19 July 2011

In Defense of People who Dislike Pets

I distinctly remember the moment when I knew that Angel was the perfect man. That’s a little odd, because I only vaguely remember our wedding day, and I can’t recall what he said when he asked me for our first kiss. However, the time when I knew that Angel was the one for me was the precise moment when I learned that he was allergic to cats and dogs.
                Before I knew that fact, I had liked Angel, of course. I found him attractive and interesting. He had that rare trait of being willing to listen to my long and passionate tirades on random subjects, which was definitely a plus. Still, it wasn’t until I found out that he was allergic to cats and dogs that I knew that I wanted to marry him. I can prove it, too. Analytical person that I am, when Angel and I first began courting, as I got to know him, I wrote a list of all the reasons why he might make a good husband. I think  the purpose of the list was so that I could take a logical, reasonable look at all the facts I knew about Angel and from that decide whether I ought to say “Yes” when he proposed marriage (yeah, romance was really non-existent during the early part of our relationship). I still have the list, and on there, along with all the other characteristics I appreciate about him, is the fact that he is allergic to the typical household pets.
                I can imagine that to many people, that doesn’t sound like a sure-fire sign of a good marriage partner. However, I was thrilled to learn that Angel is allergic to cats and dogs because of how much I dislike animals. It’s not that I’m scared of animals or that I hate them. It’s more of a civil aversion to furry critters. In fact, I enjoy a trip to the zoo or a horseback ride as much as most people. I don’t mind at all if other people have pets. I simply don’t enjoy petting animals, and would definitely never want to own an indoor pet. Honestly, I don’t really understand pet lovers, who put so much time, effort, and expense into owning their pets and keeping them well fed and healthy. Let me affirm, though, that I have nothing against people who own pets. In fact, most of my favorite people either own pets or love animals. Angel actually really enjoys playing with cats and dogs, which I why I am so glad that he is allergic to them. His allergy is what gives me confidence he won’t try to coerce me into having indoor pets—after all, I always have the excuse that it’s better for his health if we have no animals indoors. I’m really just thinking about him.
                It is quite well known among my family and friends that I am no pet lover. The dogs that belong to my relatives don’t always understand that. One of those dogs was following me around a living room, trying to sit next to me or put his head in my lap wherever I went. One of his young owners, my cousin, yelled at him, “Can’t you tell that Rachel doesn’t like you?” My cousins laughed at me when I refused to pet their new hamster, even when they promised me it wouldn’t bite. They were probably telling the truth, I just preferred not to test their word.
                I really don’t know why I dislike animals, particularly house pets. It’s not that my family never had any pets growing up. Over the years we had countless outdoor cats, who I always got along with; two evil hamsters with a mission to destroy everything they came into contact with; dozens of harmless fish, usually named after movie characters; and a runt of a dog that slept all day. No one in my family liked the hamsters, and very few liked the dog. But I don’t think there are any deep, dark experiences in my past which can explain my disdain for furry housemates.
                I do think, however, that people who dislike animals are unfairly discriminated against in popular culture. Haven’t you noticed that in movies, it’s always an early sign that a character is the bad guy if he or she dislikes cute little animals? Cruella DeVille, anyone? I want everyone to know the truth—a lack of affection for furry creatures is not a sure-fire sign of an evil person. Just look at me. I may dislike animals, but while I am mischievous and have a bit of a temper, let me assure you that I am certainly not qualified to play a bad guy in a Disney movie! Again, in a movie, you can always tell that a couple are going to end up together by the end of the show when the woman finds “love at first sight” with the man’s dog. It's always the "bad girlfriend" who doesn't get along with the dog. I can tell you from experience, an animal lover and one who is not so fond of animals can enjoy a very happy marriage—especially when the animal lover happens to be allergic to the animals he enjoys so much.
                In fact, these days, I actually am a pet owner. In spite of his allergies, Angel truly enjoys playing with animals, and today, we have a cat who lives outside, and roams the countryside at will. Angel feeds her semi-regularly, sometimes with cat food, and sometimes with leftovers that we decide aren’t worth putting away. He still hasn’t been able to train her to eat baked beans, though he has tried several times. I never feed her, nor play with her, but she doesn’t seem to feel any loss. This is exactly my idea of pet ownership.
Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Your right when you say that this culture frowns upon people who don't like animals. -Angel

Hayden said...

Goodness, I feel the need to comment because sometimes I feel like the only person out there who's not an animal person. I feel much the same as you do on the matter. Yay! I'm not the only one :)