Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Something we will (most likely) never have

Technically the subject of this post could refer to many things:
respective laptops
respective cell phones
too many children
flat screen TV
expensive furniture that aforementioned kids can ruin
But really I'm referring to pets. Primarily dogs and cats. Sometimes people ask me if we have any, and my answer is always the same: No pets. Just kids.
We may be the only people in Colorado WITHOUT pets. Don't get me wrong, I think animals are sweet. Kids love them, and mine are no exception. (That's Anna playing with my in-laws' dog at Christmastime. Not even the stomach flu kept her from hours of throwing the stick for Scrappy!) It was super fun seeing them interacting with the dog. They loved him, and he seemed to like them too. It actually made me wish we had a dog.
BUT, unless we live on acreage someday (and we're not planning on moving out of our Denver neighborhood anytime soon) where a dog or cat can run around outdoors, we will be pet-free. Because the thought of walking a dog every day stresses me out to no end. AND you have to feed them. And pet them. And pay them attention. Then there are the vet bills, and here is a confession for you all: I would not be able to stomach paying hundreds of dollars on medical care for an animal (that's not some prize-winning racehorse that earns me more money than I'm paying out.) I grew up in a rural area where most peoples' pets happily stayed outside, got foxtails in their ears, and were sometimes "put down" by their owner. (We however visited the vet for those things. My non-gun-owning family was civilized like that. :) )
So there's a glimpse into my cold, cold heart. I like other peoples' pets, but generally have no desire for my own.
What sparked this random blogpost, you ask? I recently saw a commercial on TV that was talking about the adoption of animals as if the animals were orphaned CHILDREN. Schmaltzy music playing and photos of random animals...and the way the narrator was talking, yeah, you'd have thought they were asking for donations to help refugees. Ew.
So there you have it. The cold hard truth that, at least for the forseeable future, my kids will grow up without a pet.


Rachel said...

We got our ipod for FREE when opening a checking account and my cell phone costs a whopping $40 a year! That would mean 400 minutes of actually using the thing. I heart TMobile pay as you go! I'm also over my obsession with wanting a puppy. Last time I checked, I liked sleeping through the night and keeping urine on my floor to a minimum. Until that changes, we are puppy free.

On a sidenote, I got three books from the library today that will hopefully help me not get kicked in the stomach while strapping my kid into her carseat. *sigh*

joy said...

i agree with you! pets just seem like so much work to me--i'd rather birth another baby or adopt another child than have a pet. seriously.

BJ said...

I just saw an ad on Kijiji the other day. It went something like this: "you wouldn't adopt a child then in a couple of years when you can't afford it anymore give it away, would you? So why would you do that with a pet? etc, etc." I couldn't believe it. We do have two dogs, but we are in the process of finding different homes for them as we're just overwhelmed with other details in life right now. Animals are NOT humans. Bottom line, and I'm tired of people acting like they have some kind of special status. I've even heard they are trying to give dolphins "non-human person" status. Whatever happened to us having dominion??? And you're right, pets are a lot of work and money...something we handled for a while, but for right now, with Baby #6 on the way, it's not something that is going to work for us.

Anonymous said...

Brianna, sometimes your arrogance truly kills me. In regards to your sarcastic comments about animal adoption...why is it any of your concern if certain people are passionate about animal rescue and that sort of thing? Everyone has different causes that they like to support. Are animals not "god's creatures," too??

I'm not comparing animal rights to children/people's rights, btw, but I feel like you sometimes think adopting from Africa is the one and ONLY good thing that people can do in this world. Please open your mind...just a bit.

Kristen C.

Anonymous said...

Since when did pets get elevated to the same level as children? Last time I checked, humans were still on the top of the food chain!

Don't get me wrong...I love pets too but they are NOT a replacement or a substitute for children...

Plus, I think it's digusting when pets sleep in people's beds, climb on counters, eat off dinner plates and saucers...YUCK! Leave the pets outside where they belong!

Anonymous said...

P.S. Brianna...you're not arrogant, just very realistic and truthful! Which I totally appreciate!

r. said...

I think dogs do have special status in our culture and I'm always perplexed by people who are themselves perplexed by this. For those who say dogs don't have special status--so is it okay to eat them, for instance? An animal can have special status without being the equivalent of a child.

Regarding the "whatever happend to dominion" comment, well, BJ, not everyone shares your religious beliefs.

The reason we talk about "adopting" dogs and cats is because their situation is somewhat analogous. They need people to choose and commit to care for them. Is it the same level of commitment, financially, legally, or ethically? No, of course not. But that doesn't mean the analogy isn't there.

(To be honest, what bothers me more is schmaltzy coverage of real, child adoption--if it's infant adoption it often ignores the real ethical issues involved much of the time, and if it's older-child adoption it downplays the real issues many of the children have and the experience many of the adoptive families have when they try to find help for those kiddos. But I digress . . . )

Brianna, you once wrote a post about your family's "culture," which I found very insightful. In it, you reflected that your choice to be a SAHM and homeschool was partly about values, but partly about personality as well. Could it be that as a personality thing, you're just not a "dog" person? (And please understand, if this comment sounds strongly-worded, that some of the more vehement parts have to do with what your commenters wrote, not what you wrote.)

Melissa said...

I've seen the same commercial and was shocked that it costs more to pay $40 to support a pet than $30 to feed, clothe, give medical aide, etc to a child through World Vision.

The Fearnsides said...

If you ever want to see pets vlaued more then children, move to Southern California. They have as many, if not more, animal parks, clothing stores, spas and day cares for pets. Perhaps it's a slight exageration, but not far off. Keith has actually had to stay longer at work to cover for someone who had to go pick up their dog from "Doggy Day Care." In the S.F. Bay Area 10 years ago a woman's dog was killed in a road rage incident the same time a little girl was kidnapped and missing. Oprah put up reward money for the dog. The money for info. to help find the missing child was significantly less. I think that's pretty telling..

We would love a pet, but, like you Brianna, wouldn't have one if we didn't have a massive yard for it to run in. My husband has a big no pets in the house rule, which actually prevents us from being able to adopt a cat or puppy from a shelter.

For a cat you have to sign a contract saying you'll keep it indoors and a puppy has to have someone home with it x amount of hours per day. Frankly, that's a little silly (IMO) and prevents us from being able to rescue an animal that will most likely sit in the SPCA shelter for a while.

I TOTALLY understand where you're coming from!

(Forgive me for the ramble!)


Brianna Heldt said...

Kristen C,

First off, I admit to having wondered if my having a blog in general is pretentious (look at what I'm doing, etc.), but then, I enjoy the connecting with people, so I continue blogging. Also, I can assure you that I have little reason to be arrogant. Trust me.

I adopted from Ethiopia, so that's what I blog about. I haven't rescued any animals. (Unless you count risking life and limb setting bees free from the bee traps by the trash cans in elementary school.) If YOU feel passionately about that, start a blog. I should warn you though that people may call you arrogant and close-minded.

Yes there are plenty of "good things" people can do for God's kingdom. However I will never, ever put the adoption of a child on the same level as the adoption of a dog. That is gross.

Not to mention, I do NOT see adoption as charity. The global orphan crisis is extremely complex and nuanced. I don't look at my sons and pat myself on the back for "saving a kid." YUCK. I see them as my sons. I see their past as tragic. I think of the woman who gave birth to them and feel grieved that she was unable to raise them herself. At the same time, I'm so glad they're mine.

And I'm not God. I don't know who should adopt and who shouldn't. I'm not "concerned" about whether people are rescuing animals vs. adopting children. My post was just supposed to be a sort-of-mildly-amusing look at how I don't see us having pets b/c I'm too lazy to take care of them, and I (unfortunately) included something about a random commercial I'd seen.

If you think I'm arrogant or talk too much about Africa, please feel free to stop reading. I probably wouldn't continue following a blog that I felt that way about.

Brianna Heldt said...

r., my post was never intended to be "what's wrong with pet owners?" i get why people have pets, and i would someday like for my kids to have a dog. (IF we had space outside for it.) nowhere in my post did i wonder aloud why some people are animal people.

and i'm all for ethical adoptions. agencies should not be promoting an over-simplified image of adoption. i certainly feel like i've been up front about that in the past.

r. said...

I didn't interpret your post as saying that dog people are bad. What I meant to get across was just that some of the things that you could never see yourself doing--such as having a dog indoors, spending lots of money on a dog, letting it on the sofa, etc.--just don't seem so unnatural to people who are "dog people."

Since writing my comment, I've actually given some thought to trying to figure out what exactly it is that I mean by term. I still haven't put my finger on it, but I think it comes down to a certain emotional connection some people have with their dogs. And folks who feel a strong social bond with their dogs are more likely to keep them in the home, etc. Which naturally would seem a little over the top for those who don't feel it.

I commend you for not getting a dog at a time when you don't think you're up for it. Especially since you don't want a dog in the home, I think it's great that you recognize that an urban backyard often isn't really all that great for stimulation for a dog.

And for the record, I think schmaltzy ads of all sorts suck. Sentimentality is usually a way to deflect attention from real questions to easy, fake answers, not to mention a way to manipulate people. I think it's the worst in adoption only because of the real human lives that are changed, sometimes for the wrong reason. But that particular comment was in no way about your blog at all. I've been following your blog since y'all were in Ethiopia picking up the boys; I know you're all about nuance. My main point was that schmaltzy ads about dog adoption are bad enough, but if it's between that and schmaltzy ads about people adoptions, I rather they stick to dogs, where they can do less damage. That's all.

Brianna Heldt said...

just to clarify, i really didn't say anything about a dog being on the sofa. (maybe that was someone else?)

i think people try to sugarcoat things in hopes of motivating others but you're certainly not helping people if you're keeping them in the dark about the truths behind adoption (animal or human or otherwise.)

Jennifer said...

I agree - no pets for us! I'm so glad my hubby and I agree 100% on this topic. Yes, God made animals, but I'd rather invest my life in caring for people, who most certainly have an eternity.

Rachel said...

I'm not a fan of dogs on couches. I'm just sayin'...

Mommy Laity said...

What an interesting discussion! I'm sorry you got called arrogant. =( The unfortunate thing about writing in general is that the reader can put whatever tone they would like into the reading. But other than that part I enjoyed the discussion.
I personally won't have any animals unless they give something back to the family. If we ever get to really have a farm we will have cats to eat mice and gophers, and a dog to scare away deer. We'll have chickens to give us eggs. And goats to eat the weeds. But for now my little house is full enough with the four of us. It makes me sad when people have animals and neglect them.
On the other side I have seen how a pet has been a wonderful thing. When my mom wasn't working she got a little dog and took him on walks 3 times a day. He kept her company while she was home alone during the day and she ended up getting a lot of good exercise and refreshing outside time because the dog needed a walk. It was a great thing for her and the dog.

Love you!! I will write soon!! I'm doing SO much better. I will never put synthetic hormones in my body ever again! Yuck!

Jeannett Gibson said...

dude, brianna, what. is. up. you dog hater you. ;)

somedays i hate my dogs, somedays i don't. my bigger issue is just that at some point i feel like there are just too many bodies...animal or otherwise...in our space. and it doesn't help that they shed. ultimately, though, i think that the next time we have dogs (when these ones die) they will have more boundaries...like, mostly outside and maybe allowed in a portion of the house, rather than being allowed everywhere (well, except for on furniture..sofas, beds and counters...yuck!) i agree that right now would be an awful, horrible time for you to get a dog...and frankly, anytime you have a child under 8 would be a bad time to get a puppy...you really have to work HARD to teach your dog people manners...and you can't very well do that when you have a tiny one to tend to. once they are trained, it's not so bad, but you have to get there.

now quit being a dog hater, will ya? :)

r. said...

just to clarify, i really didn't say anything about a dog being on the sofa. (maybe that was someone else?)

Nah, I just added that in there for good measure :-)

Shana said...

I'm with you on the pets! Although I'm not sure I can agree with the laptops, cell phones, ipod, iphone, and flat-screen tv. But I think I'm with you on the kids and the expensive furniture. :)

Brianna Heldt said...

Lara I'm SO GLAD you're doing better!!! I so agree about animals being useful, AND about them being great companions. My parents have two cats that they adore, and the cats are super sweet. Pets can be really therapeutic. I was so sad when our family dog died.

Jeannett HA, I love your doggies! Whenever you post about Henry and the dogs I feel a little sad we don't have any. :) Yeah the shedding is huge...when I was a kid we had a dog that shed like mad and I always hated the hair all over me...and one time I house sat for some people who had lots of dogs and they peed everywhere (when they weren't yapping uncontrollably) and it was just GROSS. Also, once I moved out and went to college and was no longer around our pets, I developed pet allergies, so oftentimes my nose gets stuffy and my eyes get all itchy if I'm in a house where animals live. (Never did at your house though, you crazy cleaner you!)

Well I've now probably been blacklisted by the National Humane Society, and various other animal shelters, so I'll probably never be able to get a pet! :)

Ginger said...

Well, we have dogs & love them, but we don't consider them "our kids" like some do and those commercials get the same reaction from us each time they come on. We always comment back to the TV something to the effect of, "yeah, for $25/month you can help a stray dog & get a free tshirt, or you can feed & educate a child in an underdeveloped country, and most likely be helping the rest of their family/community in some small way also (and that's not even going into the difference that educated child will make in the lives of many others when they grown up".

Brianna Heldt said...

Ginger heehee I love that you talk to the TV! So do I.

And I so bet your sweet kids love your dogs. I do hope one day my kids can have some sort of pet.

mayhem said...

I think it's funny that this post (among all your post about family and adoption and marriage and other things that are actually important!), generates so much strong feeling!!

We have one dog because I felt like I wanted to give my kids the opportunity to have pets that I enjoyed as a kid. And I kind of like dogs in general. BUT... He's NOT my baby, and I have never been a person who thinks of pets as actual members of the family. Worthy of respect and good care, yes.

Our dog recently got a cut on his leg, so I took him to the vet. They wanted almost $400 (!!!) to give him meds, general anesthesia, and sutures. I pretty much came to get a bandage... They made me feel like a bad person if I didn't pay for all the best possible medical care. So... several hundred bucks later (I did refuse to have them do pre-anesthesia blood tests)... If the dog ever gets a cut again I'm not taking him in unless he develops gangrene or something!

By the way, I have really enjoyed your recent posts about your marriage and decisions about adding kids. Thanks for those!

Brianna Heldt said...

mayhem, i know, i was surprised to see some of the comments and how stongly people felt about animals!

oh man, i've known many people over the years who've gone to the vet and been made to feel like horrible people if they don't shell out the money, sheesh! it's bizarre. i'm glad your doggy is doing better though!!! thanks for the comment!

shell said...

i am allergic to dogs so it makes it a great reason to not have one. :) keith worked in bran marketing for IAMS for a few years and we were always the odd ones out w/o a pet. it is amazing the amount of $ people spend. my mom and sister are animal lovers, so keith and I have to hold our tongues at times. i was amazed to hear that it costs $40 to deworm a dog for the year and 50 cents to deworm a child. that 50 cents puts that child in school over 30 more days a year and could be life change. hmm.....


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