Friday, December 1, 2023

Societal change has elevated pets to the status of people

The word an-thro-po-MOR-phism refers to attributing human motivation to animals and things like furniture, rivers and coleslaw.

To many people this definition might be puzzling, convinced as they are that their  furry friends are motivated by the same emotions we humans experience.  “Woofie is a member of our family!” they gush about their mutt or purebred. “Oh, Meowie is my baby,” we hear time and time again about someone’s — yeah — cat. 

No dictionary I’ve found has a note appended to this definition of anthropomorphic, such as “A prevalent belief in places like San Francisco or San Miguel de Allende,” but they should have.

I love San Miguel and have loved it since the first time I visited here, around 1961. At that time there was one car, one taxi and one burro to be seen in the center. There was probably one dog too, though I don’t recall seeing it in my four days at the Quinta Loreto.

Now, nearly 60 years later, it feels like there are more cars, cats and dogs in SMA than people. In my colonia, dogs roam as freely as sailors ashore on holiday. Whenever I’d see a dog I’d do my Cirque de Soleil improv of finding a brick wall or telephone pole to scale, or leaping on to a parked car, as I screamed like an opera diva with her wig on fire.

I realized early on that this behavior was causing me not only emotional distress but bodily harm as well, and that something had to be done. So I did it. I stopped leaving the confines of my house.  As the Ink Spots sang in the 50s, “Don’t get around much anymore.”

Of course I miss the Parroquia, and the Jardín and Parque Juárez and feasting at Hidalgo 50 on their delicious salmon. But truly, “Vale la pena,” as Mexicans say. It was worth the sacrifice no longer having to dread cardiac arrest or a stroke every time my feet hit the pavement.

Apparently I’m not the only one who’s noticed the societal change that has elevated pets to the status of people (sort of like the way a worm morphs into a butterfly). If you research why this phenomenon has occurred and keeps escalating, you’ll find pages and pages on Google with headings like these:

We need to stop treating animals like humans, Why people sometimes care more about dogs than humans, Face it: Pets aren’t people and Fur babies: why treating our dogs like our kids is bad for everyone.

These are only a few examples. You could spend all day reading these articles, as well as heartbreaking stories of infants and children mauled to death by “man’s best friend,” around 2,000 yearly.

I’ve also noticed that while no one so much as blinks if you suggest nuking a Hollywood celebrity or D.C. politician, or declaring that you hate babies or welfare for the blind, only imply that you hate dogs and you’re automatically put into a category with serial killers, pedophiles and people who eat their young. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

I’m a person who has never once harmed an animal, but neither have I ever had so much as a glimmer of affection for one, going back to childhood, when my father utterly failed to find an animal I could tolerate being in the same county with.

Just for fun, try this hypothetical with me. You’re a young woman who tells your mom you’ve fallen in love. “What’s he like?” she inquires. “Well,” you say, “his nose is always wet and cold, he sheds hair constantly and slobbers slimy strings of saliva on to sofas and stuff, he loves to lick his own testicles and any others he can sniff out, and he’s always up for a snack of fresh feces, his own or anyone else’s, so long as it’s homemade.”

Can you imagine your mom responding with “He sounds fabulous! Could you bring him over for dinner on Sunday, d’ya think?” Might you find Mom’s response a tad, ummm, counterintuitive, shall we say?

But this is the situation that prevails. Dog licks toilet bowl, then dog licks baby’s little pink face. How precious (albeit unhygienic).

Okay, reader, you believe I’m the quintessential monster, don’t you? I won’t even waste your time or mine describing how much I adore babies. But before you tar-and-feather or burn me at the stake, check out the 61 videos on YouTube with the title I Hate Dogs. I might just have found my soulmate in this guy . . . .

The writer is an occasional contributor to Mexico News Daily.

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