Over on the bird forum, someone started a thread about pet peeves, especially those related to birds. Lots of people popped up saying they hated people taking unwanted liberties with their birds, asking stupid questions about their birds, etc.
My pet peeve would never survive there. My pet peeve, and this relates to more than just birds, are people who try to live vicariously through their animals or children. Since so many of those kinds of people populate the forums, my post would vanish and so too would my membership. Therefore, I’m taking the opportunity to point it out here, away from moderator eyes.
It’s far too common among animal fanciers to take their admiration and enjoyment of their pets too far. It’s not just a bird thing, it’s not just a dog or a cat thing, it happens across the board. What’s funny is that in this thread, people point out how absurd some people on other non-bird forums take things, yet refuse to acknowledge the extremes that things go to right in their own backyard. I’ve commented before on the people who don’t think birds ought to be owned and think breeders should be burned at the stake. The same thing happens on dog forums and cat forums and fish forums. Never own dogs or cats… like I do. It’s base hypocrisy and they’re blind to it.
I think in a lot of cases, you have people who are desperately trying to live vicariously through their pets. This happens regularly on the “show circuit”. People, who really have nothing going for themselves, try to look good through the actions of their animals or children. Whether you’re talking about dog shows at Crufts or Toddlers and Tiaras, these are adult human beings trying desperately to be recognized, not through their own actions, but through the accomplishments of their pets and offspring. They think it’s acceptable.
What it is is pathetic.
On a related tangent, I have a distinct dislike of fanatics across the board, no matter what the topic. TV fanatics, sports fanatics, roller coaster fanatics, it doesn’t matter. People who take their enjoyment of a thing to irrational lengths bug me. That goes for animals as well. People get so completely attached to their animals that their lives begin to revolve around them. I had a lady tell me not too long ago that she quit her full-time job and went on public assistance because her birds weren’t getting enough attention. Seriously. And she’s not alone. I see lots of people who complain about their guilt because they have to go to work and leave their birds for a couple of hours. I’ve seen people admit to going home “sick” because they wanted to be with their pets. These are people that have serious problems and need professional help IMO.
But back to fanatics, a lot of these people are far too wrapped up in the lives of their pets. They’re somehow convinced that their pet of choice is “special”, that it deserves special consideration or treatment above and beyond any other type of animal. Go read some of the pet-specific forums, you’ll be inundated with people who are supremely convinced that their particular animal should never be kept as pets, although they certainly do and often admit to being hypocritical about it, but defend their position by saying “these animals already existed and need someone to care for them”. They spend far too much time evaluating the quality of care that those around them are giving to their pets and spending an absurd amount of time and effort caring for their own. I’m sorry but how in the world can any well-adjusted adult have 12 hours a day, every day, to do nothing but cleaning up after and playing with their parrot? It just can’t be done, yet this is the level of care that many bird fanatics demand of every bird owner out there.
While I don’t want to turn this into a sexist rant, the vast majority of people who I’ve seen who do these things are female. I don’t know if it’s a mothering instinct on overdrive or what, but most of the bird hoarders, the ones who hang on every event, good or bad, in everyone else’s life, tend to be female. Now granted, bird owners tend to be largely female anyhow, but I went back and looked on some dog and cat forums and there too, the people who have these issues do tend to be female. Something else I’ve noticed, which may or may not be significant given my small sample size, is that the majority of these seem to be childless females, or females whose children have grown and left home. Perhaps they’re trying to replace children they’ve either had, or have never had and want, and substituting animals in the role. I think it’s an interesting observation, I’m sure studies have been done on it, I’m just not in the mood to go looking right now. I did find a statistic that says 2/3 of all pet owners are childless, something that doesn’t surprise me in the least.
In the end, people need to realize that these are pets. They are property. Sure, they are living property, but that’s what they are. I’m not saying we ought to treat them like baggage, animals enrich our lives and give back as much to us as we give to them. We ought to be dedicated to their best interests and caring for them to the best of our abilities, but there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed and, at least IMO, making them the center of our existence does everyone involved a disservice. Love your pets, care for your pets, just don’t be a fanatic about your pets. When they become to focus of your existence, maybe it’s time to take a few very large steps back and re-evaluate your priorities. Something tells me they’re seriously misplaced.