This article supports what I believe to be a deeply annoying trend: The treatment of pets as little people. Now, these shelters do represent a genuine improvement for the animals in their care, but it’s also clear they are designed to make people feel better. I mean, feng shui?
I believe that cages for animals are not, by default, always bad. Certainly they can be, but in my experience, people are more disturbed by many crates and cages than are domesticated animals.
Example: I have a Jack Russell terrier and, although I do not crate him, I know folks who do … and the Jacks generally seem to like the safety and security provided by the crates, which serve as little caves. And if you’ve ever seen a pet freak out or get spooked when wandering around a big new house (or seen that selfsame pet urinate or defacate all over the place in an attempt to mark it), you know that wide open spaces aren’t always the best alternative.
You see this thinking in pet food, too, with “steak flavor,” “gourmet chunks” or dry pieces that are molded into little fire hydrants. Want a dog to like his food? Make it intestine-flavored and see what happens. Of course, people don’t want to buy that — but dogs, like most carnivorous animals, like organs.
Heart-flavored dog food won’t sell, so the closest you get is “beef” flavored with “byproducts.” You can buy liver-flavored dog food, which in my experience drives dogs into yips of delight, but you can do that because people eat cow livers. Again, it’s all about the people, not the pets.
I really, really like my dog, but my wife and I had some pretty serious discussions before we got him. We agreed that he was not a “family member,” or a child substitute, and that we wouldn’t make heroic efforts (i.e., chemotherapy and the like) to treat him if he became seriously ill. I think this has worked out well for everyone — including the dog, who acts like a dog and not some neurotic overstressed child.