Julie Seedorf: Do we carry things too far these days with pets?

Published 9:30 pm Sunday, October 29, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

I asked my furry babies what they wanted to be for Halloween. Natasha meowed, telling me she wanted to go as Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle since that is who she was named after. Boris, on the other hand, wants to get away from his Rocky and Bullwinkle namesake and meowed that he wanted to go as the Hulk since he has the cat stature of Hulk, weighing in at 17 pounds.

As I walked around the pet store one day looking at all the costumes and clothes for cats and dogs, I wondered what the tipping point was for us humans personifying our pets.

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As a young child, I attempted to dress my toy terriers in my doll clothes. My cats weren’t quite as accommodating. They would scratch and growl and bite if I tried to make them into one of my dolls to play with. Now it seems acceptable to dress our pets.

I must admit I find some cute clothes for my cats, but I know they absolutely hate to dress up and so I honor their wishes.

When we had Sam, our pooch, we did buy him a doggy Vikings jersey. He wasn’t impressed and always tried to scratch it off.

If you look around at Halloween, the pet hotels and pet stores have Halloween parties for animals. There are prizes for the best costume and treats for the furry creatures. It is big business.

Our compassion in society also extends to our pets with cancer treatments, mending of bones and other ongoing treatments for diseases. The pet industry is a big business. I worry I might not be able to afford to treat Natasha or Boris should they get cancer or a serious ailment that needs ongoing treatment.

Do we carry things too far these days when it applies to pets? In the years I was growing up, if an animal broke a leg, got hit by a car or had a serious illness it usually was the end of their life. People accepted the reality of a hurt pet. Pets did not have clothes for every occasion. They didn’t have their own buggies for walks and they weren’t allowed in hotels and motels. It doesn’t mean they weren’t loved; it meant people didn’t put feelings and personas on pets as if they were human.

I like the way society now treats furry creatures. I feel if you can have compassion and love for a pet you will treat people better. Pets give unconditional love. There is responsibility in pet ownership and there is healing power in the bond between pets and their owners. My fur babies are my babies.

We haven’t yet expanded our human personification to all animals. We eat a lot of beef and pork. We raise chickens for eating, not for petting, although I do know a few people who own chickens for pets. What makes the difference in the way we see each animal? I know I myself turn a blind eye to where that hamburger or steak I love comes from.

Enjoy your trick and treating. Make sure you take care of your pets and are watchful so they don’t get hurt on Halloween. Keep your cats inside especially if they are black cats. I understand they are in more danger on Halloween nights from pranksters.

In the meantime, I have to go shopping and see if I can find Boris and Natasha their costumes. Perhaps we will invite Josie and Jake, our nextdoor neighbor dog and cat over for a party. I can make a skeleton out of dog bones, and we can play swat the ghost hanging from the scratching post. I am sure the cats will have a purr-fectly good time.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.