In this NY Times opinion, Professor Kelly Oliver of Vanderbilt University http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/the-pathology-of-dependence-on-animals/?src=me&ref=general opines on hunting, pets, service dogs and presidents.
Apparently US presidents don’t look “presidential” unless they hunt. Needing a service dog makes one look weak, and needing a family pet is just a feminine, emotional thing that makes us look even weaker.
This is a philosopher who writes that man must dominate animals because humans have higher brain functions and need to concentrate on literature and culture, perhaps the upper class may even deign to a profession like a rich colonel who’s never served in battle, a lawyer or doctor.
Our pets are not the same as us and we should not try to prove them so, no matter how many chimps can paint, crows who can use tools to make tools or horses or elephants who can count.
Despite what the author might surmise I’m not a “crazy cat lady.” I live a normal life with a husband and older dog who we adopted as a pup. Have any of these philosophers ever walked in their front door to see an entire body wagging, begging for a pat, a walk and dinner? If not, you’ve never seen unconditional love.
I went to a Catholic college where we were required to take two semesters of religion and two of philosophy. As to the latter we were told not to think, just to parrot back what we read and heard in class on weekly multiple choice tests.
My second religion class I was railroaded into because the professor didn’t have enough students and they thought a freshman could take what he called a graduate-level class. I was so peeved at the lack of thought in philosophy and learning in religion class about speaking in tongues and snake handling that I wrote my paper on the financial practices of a well-known and respected preacher. I was 17. I got my first “D.”
Have these philosophers ever had to make the decision to willingly euthanize a pet because it was terminally ill and in pain? Have they stood by their dog’s side when the sedative didn’t take effect and their dog stood up five times with no medical attention then while I held her for the final solution?
We live mainly in urban environments and don’t really need a dog to guard sheep or herd cattle. Maybe eat rats in the big cities. A pet is a companion that a responsible owner will keep and take care of all its life and be there at its death then responsibly take care of the remains.
To Professor Oliver: our dog has “emotions… reason, love and emotional dependence….” She knows the fun guy, the food wench, where we hide her favorite toy, where her friends pee and every time I go up and down the stairs she’s with me. She’s a herder so loves “routine.” She can recognize our emotions and knows that when one is sick she’ll stay in bed to comfort or from self-interest.
I depend on our dog for companionship. She demands of me and my husband food, shelter, love and to keep her from running into traffic in front of the Russian bobsledders, who drive like maniacs while on their cell phones.
Interstingly, the required religion and philosophy courses caused me to question the faith I grew up in, catholocism. I’ve been questioning rules and government and everything else ever since. Telling a student not to think is not a good idea, especially when I’m funding a significant portion of my education. I’m still in touch with my head Prof, a priest, and appreciated the few such as he that opened my world instead of closing it. Here’s to dog Zoe. Oh, check her out on youtube. Zoe rolling over. Look it up, it’s too late for me. Cheers, Dee