I recently saw some propaganda from PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - proclaiming that people really don't own animals, we only subjugate them. Animals, like people, have rights too, and their rights are equal to ours. Thus, owning a pet is a form of slavery that should be abolished.
I find this amazing because, after owning many animals, I too have found that we really don't own them. They own us.
Take for example my faithful border collie, Whiz. She was allegedly sold into bondage as a puppy. I paid a 50-pound bag of dog food for her from a rancher who had a plethora of puppies and felt sorry for my wife Jeannie because she didn't have any.
Whiz was the runt of the litter and has struggled with self-esteem issues. It took a long time for her to learn to control her bladder. A pat on the head would make water come out of her. That's how she earned her name.
I became Whiz's property the day we took her home. I had to see to all of her needs: food, shelter, emotional support, obedience mishaps and sanitation emergencies. Clothing was not an issue since she wears the same outfit every day.
Whiz learned to control my behavior early in our relationship. A pitiful howl would bring me hurrying to pet and console her. A scratch on the door would get me out of my chair to let her in. When she stood in front of the refrigerator licking her lips I was conditioned to fetch some small tidbit for a treat. It didn't take her long to train me.
At first Whiz was afraid to ride in my pickup truck. Now she owns it. She still lets me drive, but like Jeannie, she's an incorrigible back seat driver. When I don't go fast enough she yelps and even nudges me with her shoulder. If I don't roll down her window so she can better smell the passing scenery, she licks the window to try to open it herself. Doggie slobbers on a pickup window, even a beat-up truck like Old Paint, are an embarrassment to an old cowboy like me. It tells the whole world the dog is in control.
Whiz much prefers the open-air experience of riding the four-wheeler. Like Jeannie, I think she always secretly wanted to be a biker's woman. On the bike she is free. With the wind in her hair she squeals and howls like a coyote. She draws a lot of unwanted attention to our ATV outings, but it's impossible to shut her up. Every time I walk out the back door she runs to either the pickup or the ATV and waits with a big puppy dog smile and a wagging tail, trying to talk me into burning up a few gallons of gas to entertain her.
To pay for her keep, I have explained to Whiz that her official duty is to be the watchdog and help take care of the kids. She takes both jobs seriously. She will lay in the shade for hours and watch the little girls play, and the highlight of her week is chasing that nasty garbage truck away. She tries valiantly to keep the UPS guy out of the yard, even though he's a nice guy who gives her dog cookies and tries to be her friend. Jeannie says Whiz is trying to protect my financial well being by keeping the UPS guy away, and she's probably right. We would have a lot more money if the UPS guy would leave us alone.
Anyway, in an effort to keep Robert DeBry and his legal associates away, I put up a "Beware of Dog" sign, just in case. Whiz is so proud of that sign. She will refer you to it the minute you come through the gate.
Our true relationship was brought home to me a few weeks ago while I was out cutting firewood. It was hot and I was sweating it out in the primeval forest with my rusty chainsaw and heavy wood maul. When I staggered back to the truck for a drink of water and to rest my aching back, I found Whiz sleeping peacefully on the truck seat.
We had a little discussion. I told her that Lassie would be out protecting me from bears and dragging logs back to the truck with her sharp doggie teeth. Whiz opened one eye and gave me one of those drop-dead looks, then went back to sleep. But, in spite of her refusal to help gather firewood, when it gets cold this winter and she scratches on the door, I'm sure I'll let her in to sleep by the fire.
Who's the slave in this relationship?
PETA has it all backwards.