02nd May 2019
Foster pups Ollie and Oscar visit Hayfield Manor
Having a pet is as old as people from the Stone Age taking a fancy to a particular rock and calling it their own. So, why the sudden backlash?
For the last six years, I’ve been dragging an unknown beast around by the lead. I’ve shared a home with a monster, a living being with hidden depths. Feeding them, nourishing them and, from watching me, from listening to the tones of my voice, they’ve learned how to live a human world.
This monster is what we used to call a dog – he’s not even Harry, his given name – but he is now known as a fur baby.
Like a monstrosity born from evil toy making factories from the 90s, fur babies are what pets are now known as in the section of the press that looks for a new stick to beat millennials with every week.
Millennials can’t handle the responsibility of skin babies … they’ve already killed chlorophyll babies
You can no longer have a dog or cat in your home, it has to be a fur baby, a name that not only infantalises your pooch but places you in the corner wearing the dunce hat. A name like that connotes images of you chewing and regurgitating your food so you can feed your poor, defenceless animal like they are a baby bird and you their protective mamma bird. That you tuck them into bed every night, wrapped up in a blanket – bought from Avoca, no less – and sing them lullabies like the Baha Men’s Who Let the Dogs Out? and Holly Valance’s Down Boy until they find themselves chasing squirrels in Snoozeville.
Fur babies – not to be confused with furries – are also now replacing skin babies. That’s what we must refer to children as now – skin babies. Those are the rules. I don’t make them up.
Skin babies are too much hard work for millennials, so it’s fur babies all the way. Millennials can’t handle responsibility and they’ve already killed their windowsill full of succulents – chlorophyll babies – so they place a bonnet on their cat, shove a dodie in its mouth and they feel like they can take anything on.
When you pick up a fur baby, either from a shelter, the Buy and Sell, a neighbour with a loose living bitch or hound, an under-the-radar puppy farm or an overpriced breeder, it’s not necessarily a choice over a baby.
It’s a choice to simply have a pet. A pet that you don’t have to drop to teen discos, early morning swim meets or cash out on expensive trips to the dentist.
You can have children and pets at the same time, it’s not a case of either-or, but this argument that fur babies are replacing skin babies indicates that having children is the accepted life choice and to go without a child is the wrong choice.
Sure, the poop of fur babies is contributing to the harmful amounts of CO2, but whose poop hasn’t?
And not only are our pets replacing humans, like some sort of fearsome AI technology only found at the self-service check out tills in Tesco, but fur babies are bad for the environment, according to this Vice headline.
Unlike plastic bottles and clingfilm, our dogs and cats are not taking the ocean by siege, nor are they buying unsustainable clothing from online sites, only to throw them out by the end of the year. Sure, their poop is contributing to the harmful amounts of CO2 emitted each year, but whose poop among us hasn’t?
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But crazy cat ladies did not come down in the last shower, foxes as pets is not the latest fad and farmers and their loyal sheepdogs are not the product of techies and vapers. Having a pet is as old as people from the Stone Age taking a fancy to a particular rock and calling it their own.
This new trend that sees pets being renamed as fur babies is another way to wave the “it’s political correctness gone mad” flag for the outrage brigade. There has been some uproar with the demand for cafés and restaurants to allow animals sit in with their owners and this uproar has been painted as a drippy failure on the owners’s behalf for not being able to go anywhere with their pets. This is not the case.
Not just for Christmas
I have no desire to bring my dog out for a fancy steak but when I take him out on the town, I’d like it if we had a caffeine-based destination to go rather than the highlight of our stroll being another brick wall that’s been peed on by four other dogs.
Pets are treated a hell of a lot better than they were 10 or 20 years ago because we know that pets deserve more than being chained up in a back garden all day with nothing but an empty water bowl for sustenance. There are still some total delinquents out there who missed all the memo that dogs aren’t just for Christmas.
They will treat their pets like disposable items, returning them or abandoning them because they didn’t have the time to look after them properly.
There will always be sickos out there who will actually make out with their animals – and that’s a piece for another day – but to create a dialogue of bah humbuggery towards owning and loving their pets is proof that we’ve run out of things to hate.
In the same way that we’ve praised and then torn down pop idols, movie stars, Twitter activists and every single one of the Kardashians, fur babies are now the target.
Let’s not live in a world where pets are hated. Stop the madness. The backlash against pets must end now.
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