Animals as surrogates

I have never considered my animal companions to be my children, and nor do I call myself, or allow myself to be called, my animal companions’ mother.  I think that there is an inherent danger in anthropomorphizing animals, in that we fail to respect animals for the true beings they are and try to convert them to mini humans. This post, which discusses the growing trend in Taiwan for people to choose to have animal companions, rather than children, is a good illustration of anthropomorphism taken to extremes, wherein animal companions seem to function more as fashionable accessories.  We’ve all seen the Paris Hilton phenomenon of the pocket-sized dog who is carried as an accessory.  When I was last in Yorkville, a very exclusive neighbourhood in Toronto, I lost count of the number of tiny dogs I saw, wearing ridiculously expensive collars and clothing, and tucked into designer handbags.  I couldn’t help but wonder whether these poor dogs actually set paws to the ground. I do not doubt that these dogs are loved by their human companions, but I do wish that people would respect the nature and dignity of animal companions and not try to humanize them.  Animals deserve to be loved and respected for who and what they are, not for what we wish them to be.  Maybe I’m being grumpy, but when I look at the picture below, I don’t think “aren’t they cute,” but “how humiliating. They are not live dolls.”

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