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Monday, February 3, 2014

Of children and pets

I grew up in a household without pets... well, at least the larger ones. We used to have fish and hamsters, but they either died out or they were sold.

Acts like royalty too...
The first actual "legit" pet that we got was Sir Duke Lancelot, a.k.a Dukie. He's a handsome American cocker which was gifted to us by relatives. His fur was of creamy cappucino, and the longer layers were slightly lighter, with big paws and fabulously floppy ears. Why I say "was" is because he's no longer a part of our household - he was given to another distant relative due to multiple reasons.

We had some first-hand experience in dealing with 3 large Beagles at our relative's place, so raising Dukie and approaching him wasn't a problem. And fortunately, my mother raised us to be socially-acceptably civilized people who would know how to "play" with a dog.

My family and I went to an open house recently in the wake of Chinese new year, and the house owner had a handsome border Collie called Kenzo. Gentle, excited, and cuddly, he was the complete opposite of what you would stereotypically assume of, let's say, a Rottweiler.

Where open houses are, there will be masses of children of practically all ages - literally. Naturally, the younger ones (the pre-teens) were more curious and wanted to "play with the dog", and since my sister and I had entered Kenzo's custom-made compound with no problem, the two girls asked to be let in.

We did, and that was the biggest mistake we made.

"Playing with the dog" would encompass touching it, having it sniff you (anywhere), and licking if the dog feels you're friendly, which is - to me - common sense.

Unfortunately, the girls would have none of it. Perhaps it was the sheer size of the dog that intimidated them, but they were running around screaming for the dog to not lick them or even go near them. By the time I even tried to get ahold of them to just shut up and get out, some adults had already noticed and were giving us dirty looks.

The adults managed to diverge Kenzo's attention long enough so that the girls could get out, and for the rest of the night, my sister and I were "the criminals" - the two older girls who were reckless and "endangered" two little girls.

This is just one of the less serious cases of disastrous kids' encounters with animals (the two girls were unhurt, lightly scratched by the claws, but one decided to go all out to accuse Kenzo of biting her).

Some parents don't bother to teach their children manners and about treating others. Sure, teach them to say "please" and "thank you", to shake a person's hand when they first meet, to greet a person, etc. But they miss out one crucial point - how to say "please" and "thank you" to an animal (in this case, we'll be talking about cats and dogs and larger-ish, non-fishtank animals), how to greet an animal when you first meet them, how to be polite to them.

There are some cases where parents allow their children to play with an animal - let's say, a cat or a dog. By "playing", we're talking about throwing things at it, pulling its ears and/or tail, pinching it, hitting it - in other words, treating it like a toy. And with all these actions, parents just smile and encourage their "smart baby". When you get mistreated and hurt, you lash out - you defend yourself. The animals do the same, in the only way that they know: since they can't speak out language, the defend theirselves in their own language, which is by scratching and/or biting.

When they start defending themselves, it becomes their fault - the poor, helpless child is mauled almost to death by a crazy mutt. At least, that's how I imagine the "victimized" parents describe the situation to anyone. Reverse the order - you're a pet, but your owner keeps abusing you. Would you lash out? Let's say you didn't know civilization. Let's say you didn't know how to speak, and you didn't know human mannerisms. Let's say you were WILD. You would do the exact same thing.

So dear parents, regardless of whether or not you decide to have a pet in the household, teach your kid how to properly treat animals. Even if they're not gonna come into contact with them within their own household, your kids are gonna meet them at one point of their life or another.

And to the uncles who gave me dirty looks for the rest of the night: divert your attention please, to the two little girls. They asked to be let it, and we did since there was no foreseeable danger. Take your discriminating eyes somewhere else.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chean,

    It's a big NO from me towards animal cruelty!!! You are right that we should be treating animals with dignity!!!

    Nice to have you airing your good intention at your blog. Keep it up, girl! Happy to follow you :D