Fur vs. Flesh

It appears that a great division is forming within our nation.  No, it has nothing to do with politics.  The chaos is being caused by…fur parents!

This term has become quite popular within the last few years.  And there certainly is no lack of propaganda.  I own a t-shirt that reads “Dog Mom” and proudly display a magnet on my car that reads the same.

But, not everyone is happy with this term.  Who, you may ask?  Those that have human children.  To them, fur parents are two steps away from being carted off to a padded room.

Clearly, we are crazy because we speak to our pets (like they do to their babies) dress them up (like they do to their children) and make them a part of our families.

Quite honestly, I have never felt the dire need to be mother, like so many women claim to have had.  The idea of waking up at all hours of the night to feed and change a baby just doesn’t appeal to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly glad that my mother wanted to, but, it isn’t a part of my life plan.

So, the battle begins. Many people seem to think that fur parents are not able to have children and are compensating with animals.  Really?  I don’t remember reading anywhere in the Constitution where it states that all married couples MUST have children.  Yet, we are judged as “freaks” for exercising our right to not create a life.

More ridicule comes when we refer to our animals as “fur babies.”  I don’t see why this term is so offensive.  We take care of our dogs just like any human takes care of its’ child.  We take them to the vet for check-ups; we buy them food and treats; we provide a loving home where the dogs are safe.

But, because we did not birth our dogs, we should not call them “babies” or ourselves “parents.”  Interesting.  I remember the time that Adriel began yelping for no apparent reason.  Any time you tried to touch her or pick her up, she would let out a blood curdling sound.

Matt and I were scared.  I cried because more than anything, I just wanted to hold and comfort her.  Yet, my touch seemed to only bring her pain.  We took her to our vet where she was given an antibiotic.  However, in three days, she continued this bizarre behavior.

Of course, she decided to do this on a Sunday evening when all of the local vets’ offices were closed.  Without hesitation, we carefully loaded her into the car and drove for an hour to Hawthorne Animal Hospital.  Even after the $100 check-up and medicine, she was still yelping.

Our vet thought she may need a cat scan.  We were terrified.  Luckily, the vet prescribed prednisone, of all things, and Adriel’s pain was gone!

Doesn’t the above story sound just like what a child’s parent would do?  If your child is sick, don’t you worry?  If his/her condition worsens, do you not take them to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital to try to get them the best treatment possible?  Us fur parents may not be so different from the human kind after all.

I think where people believe we cross the line is when we choose to dress up our animals.  I will agree that I do not think animals need to wear clothing 24/7.  But, I see nothing wrong with dressing them up for Halloween or Christmas.

Every year, Petsmart holds a costume contest the Saturday before Halloween and offers a photo opportunity in front of a spooky background.  How is this any different from taking photos of your child all dressed up for Halloween?  Keep in mind, my husband and I are NOT actually going around the neighborhood trick-or-treating with our dogs.  We like to dress them up FOR the trick-or-treaters that stop by.

Petsmart also offers a photo with Santa every weekend in December.  My husband and I have a collection of “ugly” dog sweaters that we like to make our dogs where.  It is a funny commentary on the old style family Christmas photos.  Once again, how is this any different than dressing up your child and taking him/her to the mall to wait in line for your photo opportunity with the man in red?

I used to be embarrassed of how many dogs I have.  But, then I discovered that there are actually a lot of people out there just like me.  The more dog centered events that Matt and I attended, the more we met people who felt the exact same way about their pets as we do.

And we found out that we are actually part of a very large fur parent population.  It is wonderful to feel the love and support from fellow animal lovers at these events.  A sort of animal support group, if you will. 

Have you also noticed the emergence of specialty shops for dogs?  Treats Unleashed and Three Dog Bakery come to mind.  They sell everything from homemade treats to healthy food and everything in between.  Plus, pets are encouraged to come in to the stores.  And one of the new strip malls in St. Louis, MO welcomes pets

Yes, we love to brag about our fur babies and their many talents.  Let’s face it, if you owned a three-legged dog that could jump over a pet gate, wouldn’t you brag about her, too?  This is no different from a parent whipping out photos of their child or talking about their latest finger painting.

Play dates and birthday parties are staples in a child’s life.  Why does this concept suddenly become strange when animals partake in these events?  Animals need to be socialized.  And why wouldn’t we celebrate the birthday of the pets that are such a huge part of our lives?

So, why all the hostility?  We are not trying to diminish or mock the importance of people parents.  We are simply asking to be acknowledged as parents in our own right.

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