Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Let me say up front, I don’t usually call myself a pet “parent” and the reason for that is that I have two children and they would likely be offended. I do call myself a pet guardian as it is my duty to care for the animals in my home, make sure they get their annual vet check-ups, are fed well, get exercise and are loved beyond measure.
I will also admit that now that my children are older and do not need me as much, I do lavish more attention on the diva poodle, Henrietta, than I may have if I’d gotten her when my kids were growing up. Believe me, though, if you say anything bad about my dog like, “Wow does she always bark so much?” I will take huge offense — just as if you’d said something not so nice about my children.
That being said, what are some other things you should never say to a pet parent/guardian? Here are my top six:
- Are you planning to bring the dog? Well, first of all her name is Henrietta and yes, I do plan to bring her…thank you very much. If I am planning a family vacation I never plan to go to a place where I can’t bring the Hen. Every year when we rent a house in the Thousand Islands, the first question is, “We have a poodle, can she come along?” If the potential landlord for that rental says no, then I look for another place. Why? Because I could never board her. The guilt would not allow me to enjoy my vacation and for as frantic as she gets when I leave her for a grooming that she whimpers and throws up for a day or so afterwards. If my pet isn’t welcome, then you won’t be seeing me.
- You’re taking the (fill in the blank) to the vet again? Wow, how much will that cost? Well, yes. If my pet is acting ill, or not acting him- or herself, then yes I am calling the vet. Wouldn’t you take your child to the doctor if he or she was acting sick? No, I don’t have insurance on my pets, and yes I had health insurance for my children, but does not having insurance or having to pay a lot of money for a vet bill doesn’t mean I would let my pet suffer — just as I wouldn’t let my child suffer.
- Sure, your pet is welcome, but he will have to stay outside. What?! If I brought my children to visit would they be expected to stay outside? My pets are well behaved; and if they weren’t I would know enough to leave them at home.
- When your (fill in the blank) dies will you get another? Again, what?! Oh, yes, pets are replaceable, right? If you lost a child, could you simply replace it? No. Just as each child is unique in his or her own way so, too is my pet. There will never be another Henrietta or Lucy or Parker or Clyde and I wouldn’t want there to be. All of my pets are unique in personality and looks and I love them all. If I lost one, the devastation is something I can’t even consider, but would I rush out to get another to “replace” the one lost… I don’t think so. Which leads me to…
- Your pet is pretty old. When will you put him to sleep? What if someone asked you this about your Grandma? Insensitive, right? I have had to have two pets put to sleep — one of our cats and my parents Chihuahua that we took in once my dad passed and my mom went to the nursing home. They were both heart wrenching decisions. We cried for days before and for weeks after having made the decision. It came down to the fact that both pets were suffering — you could see it in the way they moved and in their eyes. As a pet parent, it was my decision to end their suffering and it tore me apart.
- Gross! Your dog sleeps on your bed? Kisses you on the mouth? Is on the furniture? Yes, all of our animals — except for Spenser who weighs 125 pounds and has never shown any desire to be on the furniture — sit with or sleep with me. Why? Because I like it. I don’t love it when they walk across the kitchen table and the cats seem to do that regularly — I don’t see them, but I can hear them jumping off of it. Henrietta will, on occasion, jump on the chair and race across the kitchen table to greet me when I come home and am setting stuff on the table. Do I love it? I actually don’t care that much. I do keep wipes on hand and make certain the table is clean before we sit down for dinner, but do I think puppy paws on the table will kill me? Not likely. As for the bed and kisses? I feel that my pets and I have shared space long enough that if there are germs being passed, it’s a mutual thing. If you don’t want a kiss, then don’t put your face by my poodle. If you don’t want a head butt from the cats, then don’t put your head next to them, but don’t think that I am going to stop accepting those signs of affection.
What have people said to you that you’ve taken offense at? Are you a pet parent or a pet guardian? Do you have a term that you prefer?