Once upon a time – in my lifetime, no less – people bought cats and dogs and hamsters and birds and kept them in their house for their own pleasure and amusement. They loved and cared for God’s creatures, but it was commonly understood that people owned pets and parented children.
I am a pet owner. I own a dog and a cat. I have, at various times in my life, also owned hamsters and fish and parakeets, often all at the same time.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with my pets. They sleep with me (well, Murphy had that privilege taken away because he repeatedly was waking up at 2 am to lick my eyelids, and then pounce on the dog, and then remove every item of clothing from my dresser drawers; Murphy sleeps in my office now, where he spends the night quietly shredding my files and rearranging my desk. But I digress.)
Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with my pets. I don’t, however, dress them up or let them eat at the table or throw birthday parties for them or pop DVDs in the player so they can be entertained while I’m busy. They’re pets. They know how to entertain themselves.
(Aside: did you know that you can hire a personal trainer for your pet? That’s right. When you’re at work, the folks from Go Fetch! will come to your house and exercise and play with your dog. Used to be dogs got exercise by chasing cats and diggin in the garden. But again, I digress.)
I call myself an owner because I shopped for the dog and cat, paid money for them, and brought them home, where I feed them, care for them, and am (generally) in charge of them.
Yes, I believe they have the capacity to love. Yes, I believe they have feelings. Yes, I sometimes coo and goo over them like I’m in need of therapy or medication. Yes, I am attached to my pets like I’m attached to my skin. Where I go, they go.
But in the end, I’m a pet owner, not a pet parent.
I already parent (or attempt to parent) our daughter and that’s more than enough work for one woman in one lifetime.
I’m not sure why I’m so bothered by this whole “pet parent” movement. Maybe it stems from my very basic belief that God created everything in the world and then created man in His own image.
Nothing else in creation was created in God’s image. Nothing else in creation has the ability to reason, to know and understand right from wrong and choose one over the other. Nothing else in creation has been given the opportunity to be a mirror image of the Creator.
With that, I understand that God is not my owner, but my parent. That carries on to my earthly relationships.
Parent to Cassie.
Owner of Scout and Murphy.
Pet owner. Child parent. It’s not rocket science.