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Somewhere along the way, somebody lost a little perspective. We’ll get to the specifics in a minute, but before doing so, I thought I’d share a story I read earlier this week.
Nicole Dorsey-Straff has built a nice resume over her journalism career. She’s the West Coast Editor of Fitness Magazine, and she’s a contributing editor to Parents and Organic Spa magazines. As part of her contributing editor job, she sometimes writes a blog for Parents magazine’s website. And I found one, titled “Adopting a dog versus adopting a child,” that you might find interesting.
On the surface, that sounds like an excellent subject. There are such drastic differences between the two, and the ability to rescue a human being’s life is one of the most noble things a fellow human can do. Adopting a pet, on the other hand, is adopting a companion. Yes, you’re rescuing the pet’s life, but is there really a comparison?
Apparently, there is.
The concept of Dorsey’s article is that she and her husband are debating the “merits” of adopting a “new dog” versus adopting a “new child.” Dorsey is on Team Canine, while her husband wants to adopt a child. I can’t fairly summarize Dorsey’s thought process without quoting what she said were her “non-ridiculous reasons for rescuing another dog over adopting a second child.” The bullet points below are direct quotes:
• Dogs stop pooping in the house a long time before the new baby will.
• Easier to leave a dog with friends for overnight Vegas trips!
• I never really want to leave my dog in the closet when he is whining. (He never whines, he sympathizes.)
• There are millions of unwanted dogs in Los Angeles. (There are hundreds of unwanted kids…) Much better odds on the dog.
• Dog adoption is much cheaper. And quicker. And if you get a lemon, you only have to keep it for, what, 10 years? With a child…
If you think I made that up, I wish…
The basic problems with Dorsey’s thought process are simple to spot. For starters, she obviously doesn’t know that she’ll have to clean to dog’s poo no matter how old he is. Second, if she’s against adopting a child because she’s concerned about her Vegas trips! – well maybe she doesn’t need a child in the first place. And of course, there’s the issue with having the desire to shove her kid in the closet, or worrying about whether the child she adopts might be a “lemon.” Dear heavens.
So your next question would be a logical one: Why, Jonathan, were you reading an article about the merits of child adoption versus animal adoption? The answer, I think you’ll find, is just as logical: We just had a pet contest at The Leader – called Leader Loveables – and the actions of some human beings, when it comes to idolatry of their pets, are horrifying.
In today’s edition of The Leader, we have announced the five animals that received the most votes over a 10-day period. The methodology, we thought, was pretty simple. People could vote one of two ways: They could bring in a paper ballot (one per day), or they could go to our website, www.theleadernews.com, and vote once a day.
We thought this would be a fun contest because, as Mrs. Dorsey suggested in her blog, people love their pets. And in our neighborhoods, the infatuation is quite obvious.
It turns out, people came out in droves to support their pets (or their friends’ pets, or their teacher’s pet). Normally, our website gets a little less than 2,000 pageviews a day. That’s a respectable number for a site that launched just six months ago and doesn’t have gimmicks geared toward artificially inflating the number. Well, during this 10-day voting period, our website received more than 95,000 pageviews, and with the exception of a few glitches – normal with something new like this – things started out pretty well. People voted for their own pets, and they were nice enough to vote for other pets, just because they thought they were cute. There were kind comments among the participants, and at our office, we had daily traffic interested in the early tallies.
Then, as you might expect, things turned ugly. Accusations of hanging chads and dead absentee voters began. Cruel comments like “A face only a mother could love” were posted beneath some of the pictures. But those were only minor.
The contest got out of hand on the final day of voting, when one of the contestants received a call from a pay phone, which I didn’t even know existed anymore. The message was kind of frightening. “We know you cheat and you’re frauding. And you’re messing up the whole dog game. And we are watching you. We know where you live… and who you are.”
You’ve got to be kidding, people. These are animals who won’t have the slightest clue if they won, and it’s not like we’re giving away 14-day cruises to the Puppy Islands. This was supposed to be fun, and to be honest, I didn’t feel like we had to worry about someone who turned in a couple of extra ballots, especially when they came by the office every five days.
Here’s what I now realize, especially as it relates to pet contests. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost a little perspective about the important things in life. Answer this question: When you turn on the TV or radio, do you hear more about animal rescues or human rescues? There’s no competition.
The whole issue irks me more than you might imagine. When I was almost five years old, I lost my father to cancer. One of my best buddies after my Dad’s death was a German Shepherd named Rocky, who followed me around the neighborhood and the creek banks behind the house.
But the companionship of Rocky was nothing compared to the blessing of having a “second” father who adopted my brother, sister and me when he married our mom. You want to talk about changing a life?
Maybe we should love our animals for what they are – animals. And maybe we should be a little more kind to each other. You know. Humans.