The kids didn't properly latch the gate last evening, so the dogs got out of the yard. One of them was quickly corralled and returned by local neighbors, but the other is evidently wandering around a bordering city, according to updates directed at my wife via Facebook. "I saw a small white and brown dog almost get struck by a car on such-and-such street at 21:45, at which point it turned and headed North!"
When someone steals a Ferrari, the police don't bother trying to track the thief down directly-- instead, they wait for the car to pop up on Craig's List, then run a sting operation to catch the thief when the thief tries to fence the good. I told my wife that this occasion operates in the same way-- the dog will eventually show up in a city pound, or on the Humane Society's web site. Getting it back is a game of patience.
And yet, my wife is on pins and needles levels of anxiety, because she feels guilty: "It's cold outside!" I'm having a difficult time relating, and in fact this incident barely ranks past a hang nail in terms of importance-- undoubtedly the dog found a warm place to hunker down for the night. It's also rather adoit at catching small prey. And if anything, its absence saves me money on dog food.
To pet lovers, my reaction may seem callous-- but indeed, I think it's the rational view. Despite having grown up in a city, I have rather rural sensibilities regarding animals. And indeed, rural folk know just a thing or two
Pets are beasts. They don't have
natural rights. Killing an animal is as moral as trimming a hedge, or mowing a lawn. You're not committing theft by collecting honey from a bee hive, or eggs from a chicken coop. You're not guilty of manslaughter when you inevitably kill dozens or hundreds of bugs with your car each and every road trip.
Last time I was at the bug out house, I visited the family farm and was greeted by seven or eight matted and dirty cats, who nonetheless made a nice living for themselves hunting mice while burrowing into the barn's hay when the temperatures dropped.
A family member told me that last year, a couple of the cats got frostbite, at which point the family member took the pair of cats into the field and shot them, to humanely spare them the pain. This reminded me of my dad during my childhood-- he would lay out mouse traps, and when he caught a mouse, he'd drown it in the laundry tub and throw its body outside to fertilize the garden. All of this seems sensible and rational to me.
By contrast, I have a neighbor who hires a professional groomer
to put bows in her poodle's fur. She walks the dog-- an action already stretching into "bizarre" territory for me-- and talks to it like a child: "Oh sweetie, that's just a squirrel!" She falsely ascribes human emotions
to purely and trivially explained instinctive programming, coming from a being that is barely more intelligent than a sun flower.
Incidentally, this neighbor has no children, to my knowledge has never left major metropolitan city limits, and has only ever obtained ground beef from a grocery store. And I think it is that lack of perspective which leads to these plainly illogical views.
I'll admit that even for myself, having actual, real human children
framed pets and animals in a more proper vantage. I was never silly enough to treat them like people, but raising real kids was just enough of a tether to the real world to tip pets over the spectrum fence from "companions" to "nuisances."
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the principle of "construction over destruction", which is something I drill into my kids; there is no constructive purpose to deliberately making a mess, or drawing on the furniture-- or kicking a dog. "Saving the whales" is silly-- but taking positive action to deliberately harpoon them for sport is even more silly. And that is the principle which, if universalized, would prevent actions such as mass deforestation, Bejing-levels of pollution, and poaching of endangered species-- but without the need for a cognitive dissonance-laden detour into the Twilight Zone land of "animal rights", or equally fraught notions.