The relationship between man and nature is fundamental and precious. It is not a case, in fact, that it is the main issue of Pope Francis’ Encyclical. And it is the same for the relationship between humans and animals – always marked by complicity, assistance, companionship. Over the centuries, the animal has served the man, from working in the fields, to accompanying the blind persons, with a precious instinct of self-denial.
But… Today, very often, this relationship is forced, artificial, even distorted. The human contact is being replaced by a fake relationship. And people tend to exaggerate. It is sufficient to read the announcement of a luxury “House of Pet” to realize it: “They do are our life companions, members of our family, our puppies to be taken care of, pet and spoilt”. On request, additional services are available, such as the cat&dog sitter at home, the grooming service and even the “furniture and limousine for cats&dogs”, to accompany (or pick) the animals anywhere, even without the owner. The price? It ranges from €35 per day in a hotel in Milan, up to $800 in the Far East or in Manhattan.
The painted woody house covers a great space where to move easily, then an area for games and one for the rest. Obviously, the food space is inevitable. The houses have different sizes, depending on the size of the dog or the cat, and they are painted in white/Tiffany green of in white/fuchsia. They are equipped with kennels, pillows, food and water bowls, scratching posts and litter for cats, a fake grass mat for dogs. In short, everything.
Well, this announcement shows how this relationship nowadays in too many cases has become diverted. First of all, let’s look at the terminology, which evidently is shared by the addressee of the advertisement: “members of our family”. Many usually call their animals “my son, my daughter”, even in the presence of their real children. What kind of parenting is the one who considers a beast like a son? How a child could understand the irony, if there is irony in it? And it is not just a terminological question, but behavioural. The comfort of the pet comes first. Is all this balanced?
Moreover, pets are constantly increasing in inverse proportion to the falling birth rate, and so in direct proportion to the increasing loneliness of people. But this kind of family is not real. Rather, it is selfishly comfortable: a dog cannot speak, cannot complain of the bad mood of his owner, he is always ready to interchange, and if he is rejected, he waits in a corner. But this makes him an animal, not a “friend”, nor even a “son”.
It is also misleading – as often happens nowadays – to use animals in the pictures of advertisements to legitimize other types of “unions”, as if the goal was to make any kind of “love” equal. This is a slap to the concept of the real family.
“Humanizing” them – as many do – thinking that cuddling and spoiling them is good for them, often causes disorders, especially in dogs: they suffer for compulsions and become aggressive, because their energy is not used in the right way. As in nature the dogs follow the leader of the pack, so in families they need an affectionate but firm figure, who is able to contain their hyperactivity, not reinforcing it.
The Pet Economy is as successful as the video poker, because in certain aspects it is a real disease. Often people even invest significant financial resources, maybe depriving the real family of it, just to satisfy a supposed need, which actually does not exist. Sometimes, pet owners invest emotional energy on their animals, so much as to become crazy, reflecting this attitude on their pets, spending a lot of money in useless accessories which satisfy only their compensatory expectations (and the multinationals behind these products know this very well..)
How can anyone believe that a dog is happy wearing a dress with a flap to open when he must do his business, or wearing a collar matched with the shoes so he would not be chilly when the roads are icy?
Animals can give much, so much. Let’s just think about the elderly persons, lonely and abandoned, whose only friend is a pet. Moving situations, but we must recognize the dignity of the animal of not being human. And, in turn, we must recognize the man’s uniqueness.
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo