I grew up in a household with a lot of pets. I remember one summer when we had two wolfhounds, a medium sized black dog of questionable lineage, three cats, an eighty year old parrot, and a cage full of mice. Outside of the house were three horses. There were also five children. Four boys. One girl.
It was 1867. My brother Aaron, the middle child was the most responsible and serious of the lot. He was eleven at the time, and feeling as if he was living in the shadows of his eldest brothers. He was also tired of feeling responsible for his younger two siblings. The wolfhounds belonged (if they could belong to anyone) to our eldest brother Max. The black dog was the family dog. The three cats belonged to themselves, but spent most of their time with me. The parrot was named Louis and was just there for the summer while it’s owner (Tellias) was traveling.
Anyway, to make a non-story short, one day Aaron came home with a Pug. It was adorable. He’d found out that Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale, two gentlemen who shared a fashionable home and had no wives, had a litter of puppies. Aaron took it upon himself to bring one home without the permission of our parents.
My mother told Aaron to bring the puppy, now named Mercutio, back to Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale. Our father said we had to defer to my mother. He was of no help. So we started to yell loudly that it was so unfair and that we loved Mercutio with all of our cold little Vampire hearts. Max, being the eldest and for some reason my mother’s favorite, put in his opinion that we should keep Mercutio. So my mother gave in. I think the fact that my brother Andy told my mother that Aaron would never forgive her. So we kept Mercutio who was a fine dog and a grand addition to our household.
Fast forward to 2018. We’ve had four dogs since my children were born. We had two dogs when we started to have children. Then we had one dog for 12 years. Now we have one dog. We also have two cats. One dog, two cats. I’ve avoided the never ending revolving door of rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and other small caged creatures.
Before I became a responsible adult, and before my brothers became responsible adults we thought we were responsible enough to have pets. We adopted cats and dogs then after a few years they somehow ended up with our parents. At one time the family home contained six dogs, eight cats, and no children.
Looking back, as a parent, I told my children NO. Don’t bring me pets.
A lot of young adults start to collect pets as soon as they move out of home. Unfortunately shelters are full of these pets. As kids move around, as young adults do, they find themselves unable to keep their animals. That is where the parents come into the picture. Just drop the critters off with Mom. NO.
A dog is a 12-16 year commitment. A cat can live for twenty years or more. I can’t stress enough that having a pet is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for a life – the entire life – of a living creature.
Sure dogs and cats are fun. I love my dog. I love my cats. That said, I don’t want anymore right now. I’m at full capacity. There is delicate social balance. If one of my kids brought in another animal at least one of the cats would start having behavioral problems. The amount of fur in the house would be almost too much for me.
Beside that it is just irresponsible for young adults to start collecting animals. At a time when they need to be able to get out and explore, or move someplace else and find new opportunities, a pack of dogs, or two or three cats will just home them down. And it is unfair for the animals, and unfair for the parents who end up taking the pets in. No animal wants to be re-homed.
And while I’m on the subject of pets…if you or your children adopt any dogs or cats PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Do not let your son equate his dog’s balls with his own balls and is misplaced manhood. It is not the same with dogs as with humans. The only balls your dog needs is tennis balls.
Before your children move out, have that talk about pets. You’ll be glad you did. My parents wish they had.
And that concludes my public service announcement.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman