Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pet peeve

I'm not a pet person.

Don't get me wrong — I love animals, and animals love me (indeed, I've been called "-whisperer" more than you might expect). I've capably pet-sat on occasion for everything from chinchillas to Rottweilers. But the responsibility of feeding, walking and generally caring for a critter (or arranging for someone else to do all that in my absence) on an ongoing basis is just not a fit for my lifestyle. That's a personal decision and I don't judge others for not sharing it. The opposite is sometimes not true. 

Some people are really, really into pets, to the point of taking offense when someone doesn't have one. They share with the more evangelical parents a suspicion against those who choose not to assume the role of caregiver. 

Regarding both parenting and pet-owning, I've been told repeatedly that I'm missing out on a glorious bond that I can't possibly understand in my selfish circumstances (not in those words, usually). Granted, I do understand the joy that comes from playing with puppies and babies, and I see why a more permanent extension of that is a positive thing in people's eyes. But you're never going to convince me that poop, pee, sticky messes, gross odors and pet dander are anything more than necessary-evil byproducts of that bond at best. It's when people celebrate those nasty things on nearly equal par with the pets/babies themselves that I tune out.

That's why Patty Khuly really pinched my nerve with "Five reasons I don't trust non-pet people." The title's premise is bad enough, but she goes off the deep end with her virtual worship of pet hair.

I love my parents' and brother's dogs. BUT. I. HATE. THEIR. SHED. HAIR. Eight months after moving away, I still have hair in my car from putting something in there that had been somewhere that a dog had once been (this despite vacuuming my car more than some people vacuum their floors). And I have a blanket that's still half-dog despite several machine-washings and pass-throughs with a lint roller. Like man's best friend, pet hair is a faithful traveling companion.

Like secondhand smoke, pet hair is a nuisance you sometimes put up with to be around cool people, but it irritates your nostrils, is hard to wash off your clothes and you're always glad to not be around it when you can help it. And, like with secondhand smoke, many people are oddly surprised that anyone would find pet hair irritating.

Khuly's problem isn't that she loves animals and isn't bothered by pet hair — it's that her love for her pets overrides her concern for other people's boundaries and hygiene. For some people (and return desks), there is nothing "superficial" or "inoffensive" about unwanted animal sheddings. She doesn't have to agree with that, but she can at least try to comprehend it.

Just like most pet-owners (and parents, and smokers) do.

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