Four legs good, two legs bad

Posted: October 31, 2012 in Personal
Tags: , , , , ,

We lost the family pet just over a week ago, a loveable mutt I had known all of my adult life. He was crumbling with age: his heart, legs, teeth and throat were all sickly, and so he was put to sleep.

When I was half my age I had a pet cat that I had known all my childhood. Eventually, his time also came and he was put to sleep. I was distraught, and I couldn’t express how the death of an animal had cut me so deep. Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I think I can try to articulate why some will mourn the death of a pet more than some other relatives.

Pets are completely dependent on us for food and shelter, and in return are loyalty personified. They follow you around, are hostile to intruders and try to sleep on you or in your sleeping quarters. They whine when you are away and always happy to see you come home.

Pets are subordinate to humans, and yet are not servants. We do not expect them to toil all day for our benefit; on the contrary we spend time and money to ensure their health and comfort.

Most of all, pets are how we wish humans could be sometimes. Uncomplicated and unconditionally devoted.

Pets are a perennial background of our lives for long periods. They do not betray us. They do not get drunk and humiliate us in public. They don’t leave us for a better-looking or exciting owner. They don’t put us down or slap us around. They don’t step on us to beat us to a promotion. They don’t talk down to us, mock us or deride our beliefs. They don’t care what job we have, or if we even have one. They don’t care about our hairstyle, hygiene, weight or height. They pine over our absence and fret over our sickness. They defend us blindly. They are oblivious to the concept of death.

In short, pets do not share any of the shortcomings of people. They merely reciprocate devotion. This is why it never surprises me to see people sometimes more apparently cut up over the death of a pet than a family member. They have my empathy.

I miss you Montague.

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