The Worst (& Cutest) Little
Gift Some Forget Not to Give
For those still looking for that perfect gift, one that will save the holiday cheer, and prevent anyone from calling you a Grinch, we’re sorry but you won’t find your last-minute redemption in this post. For that, please scroll down, or, since we’re in a giving mode, go elsewhere.
Just hope you won’t settle for a particular kind people continue to give each other this time of the year: pets. It may as well be the topmost mistake, in the season’s long tradition of mistakes, right up with getting drunk in the office party, and wishing Merry Christmas to everyone.
One may feel tempted, though, and perhaps animal shelters share part of the responsibility for some of the disappointment such a gift usually ensues. During the holidays, those heartbreaking late night ads with sad-faced cats and dogs up for adoption are shown at an earlier hour, just in time to offer you a quick fix for guilty feelings.
Well, don’t fall into that trap. Even if you had to go to the kitchen to grab some tissue, missing the part where they say that these rescued animals need the safety of your home, not that of your siblings, you’re still not excused. After all, it’s not the poor things’ fault that you still don’t know your nephews’ names.
FOR THE LOVE OF OUR PETS
Thus, as they say somewhere, ‘nary a Christmas’ goes by without someone having the astonishingly misguided idea of bringing a pet to a family who hate cat fur, or what they do to the furniture, or simply can’t be broken into walking a dog three times a day. They’ll most certainly return the animal.
That’s often the beginning of their martyrdom and ultimate destruction. Like you, most people mean well when they think that giving a living, breathing being to someone who didn’t ask for one, is the same as to give them an iPad, or a gift certificate for a spa massage. By the way, we charge for these kind of suggestions, so don’t get fresh with them.
Or rather, since we’ve said we’re in a giving mode, go ahead, knock yourself out, and toss in a few lattes too, for good measure. The point is, there’s an estimated 170 million cats and dogs in American homes nowadays, along with another 180 million in assorted little critters. Don’t you think these people would specifically ask you for a pet, if they thought they couldn’t get one themselves?
By all accounts, Americans are number uno in the world in their love for pets. Do you know how much they spent on their companions? Never mind food, just in Halloween costumes they’ve spent $310 million in 2011. And just to throw a fish to cat lovers out there, felines do outnumber dogs specially in cities, at least among animals that come when you call them.
Some trivia about all that: Brazil, which is a close second in its love for pets, is also home for a growing urban demographics who’s crazy about their small dogs. In 2012, someone even opened a love motel for dogs there, for Poochie’s sake. Animalle Mundo Pet, in Belo Horizonte, was an eight-story enterprise, supposedly for the ancient arts of canine breeding. And romance, we guess.
STRAYS & FERALS ON THE ROUGH
However ambiguous pet lovers may feel, and if you’re really partial to animals, you may have considered at least a few times the level of vanity that it can be ‘owning’ a living being, at the end of the day, ‘the love you take is equal to the love,’ well, you know the rest. Which makes us wonder whether that was the true meaning of those verses.
In any event, despite the over breeding, the puppy mills, the greed of some professional breeders, the staggering amount of money spent and made on the backs of animals, there’s still an undeniable merit to all that: the immense meaning these mostly little beings bring to anyone’s life. If you can’t see that, you probably never had a pet, or maybe a heart, and that’s OK, but you wouldn’t be reading this.
You see the miserable life cats and dogs specially, who have been loyal to mankind for thousand of years, lead in the city, eating from garbage dumps, being run over in the streets, even the mythical feral cats of Rome and Paris, and you wonder, where do they all come from? Guess what, many of them were once cute little things that fell out of luck. Just like little cute babies, who turn into hardened career criminals.
THE COMFORT OF FURRY FRIENDS
So, the fact that you don’t see that as often in American cities, may explain both how they thrive in this country, and why it’s so crucial that you, dear reader, don’t show up with ‘one of those’ under your arms. It wouldn’t stay under the tree, anyway, and you won’t probably be invited next year either.
Forget, just for a minute, all about the pampering, the pet cemeteries, the over the top adoration some of us may dedicate to them, sometimes to detriment of 40 million or so of American kids who’ll be sleeping hungry tonight. That’s stuff for another conversation. To many of these kids, having a pet is the most genuine form of love they’ll ever experience.
After all, how many serial killers you know of who were fond of their pets? On the contrary, to many who’re hanging on to life all across the land, thousands of recovering or terminal patients, the elderly and the disabled, seeing a cat or puppy running around is often the highlight of their day.
We’d have never been able to survive on this planet without the unrestricted love of animals, and if that sounds like a cliche, which it is, it doesn’t mean that it ceases to hold its meaning. The same way that, despite all the above, there’s still someone very special who may deserve to get a pet as a gift this holiday season: you.
* Combat Pets
* Half-Past Time
* Shipmates Ahoy
* Originally published on Dec. 22, 2012. For more, write Pets, Cats, or Dogs on the Search field.