My roommate Erin is obsessed with animals. She’s almost impossible to walk with, cooing and stopping to pet every four-legged creature that passes us. This is not an interest we share.
I grew up with a gray-haired schnauzer named Todd who was kind, loyal, and happy to cuddle at any moment. He died two years ago and so did my interest in animals (other than exceptionally cute puppies or Todd look-alikes). So when Erin suggested that we adopt a chubby, black-hared, blue-eyed kitten named Remy, I was hesitant but agreed to give the creature a chance. This was my first mistake.
The night we met, Remy let out massive diarrhea all over my wool sweater and Law
notes. It has been six months since this meeting and our relationship hasn’t changed much.
To Erin, Remy is a third roommate, rather, an elevated roommate. His needs come before ours and in her most high-pitched, tender voice, she frequently tells him how adorable and sweet he is. I do not receive this treatment, from her or from the cat.
He’s learned to use his litter box but doesn’t like his food, so he snacks on my nicest shoes instead. He also enjoys training for cat Olympics in my room while I’m attempting to sleep, rubbing his body all over our counter tops, and walking on my keyboard so I’ll pay attention to him rather than my work. When I told Erin that I was going to invest in a water bottle to train him, Erin cautioned me that she knows someone who tried to train her cat and now he poops in her shower.
This was supposed to be a warning, a pre-cursor “I-told-ya-so” in case something happened. But I don’t remember Remy writing a check for rent, paying for gas and electric or cleaning the counters he so happily dirties. She lives under the allusion that the cat’s right to live there was above mine. And as far as I can tell, this delusional state is a shared place among many other animal lovers.
Another friend of mine throws her dog birthday parties. Since she started college, she sends her tiny terrier named Pear birthday cards and Christmas presents. Even worse, her mother, the quintessential alpha-female with a thriving career and a demanding air, has full conversations with Pear in an insufferable baby voice and pretends he talks back.
People spend thousands of dollars on their pets, buy braces to straighten their teeth and special gels to keep their hair shiny. Some even go as far to take their animals to special pet gyms and salons.
There is no shame in loving an animal. But they don’t speak baby talk or recognize the value of a new sweater, or the beautiful sentiments you write in their birthday cards. Nor do they deserve to be put on a higher level than those you live with.
It makes you wonder: does your pet own you or do you own your pet?