Growing up, I recall that we always had a dog, and often one or more cats. The years when we had a family dog were spent mostly on farms or ranches, or in a small town.
Based mostly on my childhood I have developed some very strong feelings about pet ownership. And, to put it mildly, it just plain pisses me off when I see people today who own pets, but really seem to have no idea what the hell they are doing.
And, what has set me off at this time is yet another news report of someone's precious - little - doggies have reportedly been attacked by someone else's - big - dawgs. What I'm talking about, in this case, is three little cock-a-whatzits attacked by some Pit Bulls. Supposedly, this happened in the yard of the little doggies' owner, while she was not home.
Frankly, I see more than one problem here. First of all, why the hell does anyone need more than one dog? Why were those damn dogs alone in a yard? Where did those Pit Bulls come from? In my humble opinion, pet ownership has gotten totally out of hand. We should remember that most dogs are really stupid, unless trained for some specific task.
And, we should all be aware that dogs are very, very needy! They need constant attention, and what kind of attention are they getting if they are left alone for ten hours a day? They need lots of exercise, so I ask you, how much do you think they get if they're cooped up in an apartment or house all day long? Do you really think they get adequate exercise when you walk them around the block long enough for them to take a dump on your neighbor's lawn? Do you think it is dignified to be walking along, wherever a dog pulls you, with a plastic bag in your hand? And, is it dignified to be picking up dog poop from the street, sidewalk, or the ground?
Outside the confines of a city, however, a worthwhile farm dog, is very valuable. Let's face it. Dogs were bred to work, and not to just be your "faithful companion." They must be allowed to be out in the open, where they can run and exercise. They do best when they are allowed to be tough, and to earn their keep.
At this point I was going to provide my list of basic rules for pet ownership. However, a week or two ago, we spent some time with our youngest son and his family, over in Austin. They have a Lab/Pit Bull mix as their family dog, and I have to say that they seem to make it work. Biscuit is trained to mind, to stay in his own yard, and he is fiercely protective of his owners and their two little girls.
There are occasional problems, like when he is home alone, and a thunderstorm hits. He is seriously upset with thunder, and pretty much loses it. On at least one occasion, he has jumped the back yard fence, or dug under it, and taken off running down the street. And, since he can come and go on his own through a pet door, he is prone to tracking mud in when the outside ground is wet.
Yes, they do have to clean up after him in the back yard. And, they do spend time bathing him, once in a while. And, they do feed him, and watch what he eats (one huge problem I have is the very thought that a dog cannot eat everything; Our dogs always ate table scraps when I was a kid, and we would go out of our way to ask the butcher for dog bones, as well), because dogs' digestive tracts have become rather delicate over the past several generations.
All of the positives aside, ultimately, I still believe it is a crime to realize just how much Americans spend on their pets, when human beings are starving, and miserable, right here in our own country. I think we need to take care of ourselves before we decide to rescue all the dogs and cats that our long negligence has created.