Monday, August 20, 2007

Heard at the Art Fair...

Over the weekend, we were at an art fair (which is why I didn't post, being outdoors in the cold wet rain all weekend is not conducive to blogging) and one of our customers had a remarkable story.

Last year, she had told us that her dog had cancer. This is a precious dog. So, she was going through chemotherapy. For a dog. It was costing something like $4-7000 and of course, she had no doggy health insurance.

So, this year, I asked after the dog, knowing its importance to her, and she informed us that the dog had passed away.

But, she said, she had a grand send out. The dog had a full funeral, open casket, huge gravestone (with picture and the words "Mommy loves you very much") grave (in a human graveyard, with a section set aside for pets) and a minister who gave a eulogy. Price tag: somewhere around $6,000.

I didn't ask who attended the event, wondering what I would do if I ever was invited to such a thing.

It seems to me that something needs to be said about the increasing devotion and attention and money being spent on pets. I think it is a sign of our society's breakdown. When pets are given such high value, and families are neglected; when pets are given chemotherapy and children can't get health care; when pets are loved to such a degree over people; when money is spent on pets which might better be used to feed, clothe, shelter and care for humans; a society that has so much love to expend on pets, and so little to expend on other humans is a sick society. A person who says that their pet was worth more than most of the people she's ever met, is a person with sadly mislaid affections.

The other day, a hairball floated past me and onto a pathway that many people use for running, biking, and walking dogs. As I was walking behind a dog, it quite rapidly and disgustingly sniffed and then ate the hairball before I could react (which I would have tried to do, given time). Dogs are affectionate, but lacking in common sense because they aren't people. And they don't love back. If people mistake the affection of a dog for love, it tells a lot about what we haven't, as a society, learned about love.


  1. People say that we don't know when life begins - which merely tells us that they have never studied biology. Abiogenesis went out a couple of centuries back.

    And then people (usually philosophers, who would never be caught dead in a laboratory, or they would know better) say that we don't know when a human "becomes a person" - perhaps the unborn baby does not really have "personhood"...

    This is odd, since our Federal Government clearly knows that the unborn turtles in their eggs already have "turtle-hood" - and will prosecute bitterly anyone who aborts such turtles.

    As you might expect, this reminds me of a Chesterton quotation:

    Whether the turkey which Scrooge gave to Bob Cratchit had experienced a lovelier or more melancholy career than that of less attractive turkeys is a subject upon which I cannot even conjecture. But that Scrooge was better for giving the turkey and Cratchit happier for getting it I know as two facts, as I know that I have two feet. What life and death may be to a turkey is not my business; but the soul of Scrooge and the body of Cratchit are my business. Nothing shall induce me to darken human homes, to destroy human festivities, to insult human gifts and human benefactions for the sake of some hypothetical knowledge which Nature curtained from our eyes. We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty. If we catch sharks for food, let them be killed most mercifully; let anyone who likes love the sharks, and pet the sharks, and tie ribbons round their necks and give them sugar and teach them to dance. But if once a man suggests that a shark is to be valued against a sailor, or that the poor shark might be permitted to bite off a nigger's leg occasionally; then I would court-martial the man - he is a traitor to the ship.
    [GKC, ILN Jan 4, 1908 CW28:17-18]

  2. "I always like a dog, so long as he is not spelt backwards."

    -Father Brown, "The Oracle of the Dog"

  3. One of my favorite quotes froma great story!

  4. Yes, I too have to worry about the dedication to pets these days. Think of the recent death of a notorious wealthy woman who left 12 million dollars to her dog. Nothing to the needs of the poor and even less to her grandchildren. We see of the wealth of the pet industry and the negligence of the human health industry. Priorities in so many areas of our society have gotten mixed up. Worship of pets is only one more reminder.


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