When people meet and become interested in one another, they decide they want to be near one another. Their growing rapport leads to growing closeness. And they make promises, some in words, others of a more legal sort.
Later people often break the promises. The usual consequence is heart-break or upset, possibly reconciled in some way, or leading to the end of the formal ties, legal action, and splitting up.
There’s another kind of relationship, however, where the consequences of love are more intense. When a human enters into a relationship with an animal, the disparities of financial power, of rights, of intelligence mean that for a human, there are none of the legal ramifications when a human changes their mind, compared to what happens with other sorts of marriages that go sour.
You get a kitten or a puppy. The bonding is like nothing you’ve experienced.
It’s also like nothing the animal has ever experienced. Their love is genuine because they have no agenda.
When a person brings an animal into their life they may do so ambivalently. The parents obtaining a pet for a child see the excitement, but the child doesn’t really understand the context, the chores involved. Hopefully the connection is permanent, with no misgivings, but sometimes people change their minds.
I don’t claim to understand this dynamic. I only know what i experience de facto. I live in a part of town where a lot of animals are released by their owners. I think they believe it’s more humane to set an animal free, as though it were some sort of captive in chains who will happily run into the wild, not struggle (bewildered and confused), starve, freeze, and become prey for bigger nastier creatures, or end up as road-kill. I can’t assess this one easily, when the dilemma is between alternatives that both bother me, that seem like two sorts of evil. Can I say it’s ‘better’ to take an animal and have it put down cleanly? but that still seems better than condemning them to suffer the way domesticated creatures suffer when released in this kind of misguided compassion.
There is a positive side to this conversation. One sometimes gets the chance to welcome such animals into one’s home. I’m fortunate to have welcomed cats into my house that were born in the wild, cats that were immediately fixed. Their mother? Unfortunately we couldn’t catch up with her, and don’t believe she’s alive anymore. But if you do the math, when a single fertile cat is released or born, the population multiplies quickly.
I recently had the pleasure & privilege of seeing an animal rescuer, showing some of his creatures to a group of children. The occasion was educational for the kids, and a way to turn this heroic undertaking (which in his case isn’t puppies and kittens, but snakes, turtles, and a host of other creatures) into something far more positive. (click for further information on animal rescue especially if you have a pet that needs to find a place!)
I only wish people would recognize that when they bring an animal into their home, the animal doesn’t understand anything as temporary. Their love is unconditional, a lesson we could take to heart.