Just lately, a lot of people I know have been buying pet dogs. This has got me wondering – why do we feel the urge to buy animals as pets? We spend a lot of money on buying them, loads more on vaccinations and vet trips, sleepless nights whilst they get used to their new environment, hours on our hands and knees cleaning up their mess, extra expense on food, and suddenly our lives take on a whole new responsibility as we can no longer plan spontaneous nights away or long days out – someone has to now feed and let out the dog!
So, why do we put ourselves through all of this and what do we get back? I guess it’s the human instinct to care and nurture which inspires us – having something which is purely dependant on us, which returns our care with love and loyalty is strangely appealing. Maybe it’s also the sense of achievement we feel when we look at another living creature and see it happy and healthy and know that it is because of us? I know that I get that fuzzy feeling when my son picks me out of a crowd, holds out his arms, smiles and shouts, ‘Mamma!’ – He is mine, I have raised him well and now he loves me more than anyone for it. I guess it’s the same kind of feeling with a loyal pet dog.
Ok, so having a dog or cat as a pet could be quite rewarding as discussed above, however, I simply can not understand the need to keep smaller pets such as tortoises or stick insects as pets. Surely they do not give back any kind of loyalty or love at all? Maybe this kind of pet is more of a ‘hobby’ than a companion? Something which makes a good focus point in the living room or topic of conversation? I once had two pet snakes and although there is no doubt that they had their own personalities (one was inquisitive and active, whilst the other very nervous and jumpy), I didn’t get any form of ‘love’ from either of them and in the end, found them a chore. But thousands of people keep these kind of pets so there must be something about them which brings joy to some people? I wonder what it is?
So does the love and loyalty we get from our pets out-weigh the cost and commitment it takes to keep them? For me right now, I would say no, but that is probably because I have enough work on my hands, and receive enough love from my young son. However, who knows, in a few years down the line, when my son has grown up and no longer needs my constant care, I may feel the urge to nurture and protect once more and maybe I’ll turn to The Battersea Dog’s Home!