Thursday, November 4, 2010

Animal Magnetism

The Brits are obvious animal lovers. Between their passion for equestrian sport, and all those years they allowed Trafalgar Square to be infested with pigeons, it's clear they have a soft spot in their heart for their animal friends. In fact, one of the things I've loved about the countries I've lived in is that animals were always considered part of the family. Even in Korea, where I expected dog soup to be on every restaurant menu, I was pleasantly surprised at how many pet shops there were. For the record, dog soup is not eaten much nowadays in Korea, and people really do keep dogs as pets (as opposed to 'raising' them... for meat).

I know I've always loved animals. As a little girl, I wanted to be an equine veterinarian... an ambition that ended the day I realised I'd eventually have to spend time doing difficult and disgusting physical tasks. But even I think people have taken their love of pets too far.

It's fine if your pet is part of the family, but people who don't realise their pet is not actually human are really irritating. First, there are the people who let their dogs and cats lick (I don't care if you call it 'kiss', that's not what it is) their MOUTHS. Perhaps they fell prey to the old myth that dogs' mouths are cleaner than humans'. But anyone who has ever watched a dog LICK HIS OWN ANUS cannot possibly believe that there is some magic solution in their saliva that gets rid of dog poo bacteria. Do you really want to French kiss your dog's bum? Because that's what you're doing when you let Fido lick your mouth.

As for people who refer to themselves as their pet's 'mommy' or 'daddy'... well, that's where I lose all respect. Your pet is not your child. If you need further proof of this, answer this question: 'pet-mommies', did you go into labour and squeeze a cat out of your vag? no, you did not... 'pet-daddies', did you get naked and do unspeakable things to a terrier?... please, dear god, let the answer be no. Sadly, this idea of 'pet-parenthood' seems to be catching on in North America.

Despite all this, sometimes I long for a pet. I miss my parents' silly golden retriever, and I wish Michael and I could have a cat or dog. But alas we travel too much, and it wouldn't be fair to keep a pet here. Besides which, Britain has weird animal quarantine laws, believing all animals who've been abroad to have contracted some sort of disease which will then spread to Britain's entire animal population. The pigeons, of course, won't be worried. They're already carriers.

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