When Your Children Have Four Legs and Excess Body Hair
For many families, pets are people too. Pets love unconditionally, just as your toddler does. They depend on you for your care, just as your toddler does. They need to be supervised, praised and redirected by you in order to behave in the way that is consistent with your family’s expectations . . . just as your toddler does. They are excited when you are excited, and they comfort you when you are sad . . . just as your toddler does (usually). They are always there for you. They can be your best friend and your biggest household handful at times. And like children, each pet has his or her own unique personality traits; traits that amuse, frustrate, and enliven family time.
Our society, however, does not reinforce the perception of pets as children. Thus, the parents of pet-children may be perceived by society as quirky or unusual. Emotional events in the lives of a pet-child’s parents may go unnoticed and without validation from society: worse still, the parents may be societally redirected for experiencing emotions due to their pet-children. For example, when a pet-child dies, the parents may feel like they must hide their grief as other people may view such grief to be situationally inappropriate. By contrast, if the parents had lost a human child, no one would deny the parents’ right to grieve. Family and friends would rally around the parents, giving love and support in the parents’ hour of need. But for the parents of pet-children, that support network is often absent. To further diminish the parents’ opportunity to experience their grief, there is no paid bereavement leave from work due to the loss of a pet-child; however, almost all employer bereavement policies cover loss of a human child. Finally, it is common for parents of a recently deceased pet-child to be asked if they plan to adopt another pet soon: but who would ask a parent who had just lost a human child if that parent would try to conceive again soon? Such a question implies that what is lost is easily replaceable, without recognition of the individuality of the child (or pet-child) lost and without validation of the relationship severed.
A new day is dawning, however, as consumer-savvy retailers are capitalizing on the pet market and animal rights activists gain momentum. According to the New York Times “Americans spent an estimated $40.8 billion on their pets last year, up from $29.5 billion just five years earlier, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, a trade group.” And what conclusion does the article’s author draw from this statistic? “It’s a financial commitment that shows that more pets have become full-fledged members of the family.”
As more and more mainstream retailers are marketing to parents of pet-children, animal rights activists are taking heart, and the social conscience is shifting. The cumulative effect is a societal shift toward greater understanding of the influence we each have on those with whom we share our lives (regardless of their species). As we humans collectively come to understand that all creatures think, feel, and experience . . . that we all need to give and receive love . . . our social conscience awakens to a new world of untapped love and empathy.
We at Care4hire.com take to heart the commitment that you have made to your pet-children. When you must be away from your pet-child, you can turn to us to help you find a pet-sitter who will provide your pet-child with the best care available. Whether to cover for an out-of-town trip or your daily work-time, you want the best babysitter for your children and the best pet-sitter for your pet-children. We are here to help.