« The unpopular kid | Main | Why I will never buy another Renault »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My husband told me that when his grandfather cmae to the States (from Poland) to visit in the 70's, he was astounded that there was an entire aisle in the grocery store devoted to pet food. To him, dogs lived outside and they ate scraps. I agree with you (and your sister, :o) which is why we don't have a dog)

Long time reader, first-time poster. I knew I'd give to the dog tin, but I didn't know why. I thought about it and maybe it's that the dog seems more defenseless and call this what you like, but I think that most people would give to the kid. Maybe I'd shake or weigh the tins first to see which one had less and I'd give my dollar to that one. I know how it sounds to say that someone else will give to the kid and how if everyone thought the same thing then the kid would get nothing, etc. But that's probably what I'd do. Then I'd go home and get another dollar :)

I've always thought that if you adopt a pet, you have a responsibility to keep them healthy and well cared for. Like shots and such. (But I don't think they necessarily have to live inside, if outside is safe and comfortable. I live in Florida though, and it's too hot for dogs to be outside in the summer or they can die from heatstroke.)

Growing up I had a beagle. He was an outdoor dog and a basement dog when the weather got too cold. My mother would have had a stroke if his paws had touched her carpet. I do not have a dog because I would feel guilty for leaving him/her outdoors but I do not want him/her inside. I do have indoor outdoor cats, though. I only feel guilty when the 17 year old one gets locked out for the night.
In my way of thinking it is people before animals. Always.
Tertia, you can't save the world, but you could find a vet that donated spay/neutering services to those who can't afford them. We have a few of them in my city and I chose to visit them when the cats need attention because it gives them some much needed income.

Tertia - I think most people see the world in very concrete terms... the world IS ______, people are ________, dogs should _______. I think we often forget how very subjective our experiences are and how very much they are framed by the experiences we've already had and the place in which we live. I think this is relevant both from a cultural standpoint (one culture or another) and from a historical standpoint (one time period or another).

Just last wk my daughter was studying the solar system and I made a point to read 'Starry Messenger' to her about the life of Galileo. I wanted her to realize that while we often just accept that the earth revolves around the sun, there was a period in time when that was an outrageous suggestion (so much so that Galileo was persecuted, tried, and convicted for believing it - he spent the rest of his life under house arrest).

I think your observations about people and their pets are similar. We blindly walk along thinking ours is the "normal" way to do things and we are sometimes taken aback to learn that everyone doesn't do it just like I do. Sometimes we've never even given much thought to why we do things the way we do. I think this is what I love about your blog. The discussion is often so thought provoking and forces me to give deeper thought to the why's and hows in my life. Plus I think it enlightens my view of the world and gives me greater perspective about life on another part of the globe. The cultural context is significant in framing the discussion, but we often forget how important and pervasive it is.

At the moment all I have are my dogs... make that "dog", after my beloved 3 year old mini dachshund died last week. We have been married ten years, TTC for 6, and all we have are our pets. And we spoil them rotten. They are not children, I know, but they have filled a void in our lives, and for that we owe them a lot.

Sheesh, it's not as if your puppies will freeze to death in your back yard. You have a very temperate climate. Whereas in Europe and North America, homeless people can and do die outdoors every winter. I hope every Westerner who's been shocked that Tertia's dogs live outside volunteers or donates to agencies that help house and feed the homeless...

Yeah, put me in the kid tin category. And adults. Which reminds me—Americans with money to spare should consider supporting their local food pantry. The government, for a variety of systemic reasons, is no longer providing as much food to food pantries, so private donors need to make up the shortfall. And with the economy in this state, more and more families need the pantries' help to feed themselves.


I read your blog daily and absolutely love it. I'm 22 and not yet a mother, but look forward to the day I will become one. I am currently preparing to move to Tanzania and adopt an almost 2 year old boy. This post finally brought me out of lurkerland. I made my first trip to Africa in June of 2007 and spent another month in December. In June, I was with a volunteer org with lots of American college kids (and a few "older" adults). I was completely taken aback when one of my fellow volunteers got incredibly upset about the cows being tied up through their noses. That girl went on and on about cruelty to animals and I sat there thinking, "Don't you see that child with only a tattered shirt? What about that mother over there selling corn on the side of the road with a baby on her back and 2 toddlers beside her? And that boy there, he doesn't get to go to school."
Your post catches me a day after a 20 month old at the orphahange I work at died. He could have been treated here in the US and his chances of surviving leukemia would have gone up dramatically. Instead, he sat in an orphanage in rural Tanzania with only "vitamins." Yes, I loved my childhood dog (who was an inside dog :) ) and was devastated when she died 2 years ago, but that is nothing compared the feeling of seeing children not even having a chance.
I apologize for the novel, it's been a rough day. All that just to say the kid tin. And thank you for your honest approach to motherhood. Kate and Adam (and Marko) are so lucky.

Kid... Much as I love dogs. Although if I spend too much time thinking about this, I won't be able to decide.

I have to disagree on dogs in Africa - growing up, our dogs were indoor dogs (and they were boxers, so big dogs) and I can't really think of more than a handful of people in my 30+ years there who had outside sleeping dogs.

Now - what HAS surprised me is how few cats in the states spend any time outdoors. Many seem to live their entire lives indoors. Amazing. Of course, almost none are lost to cars, whereas almost every South African cat owner I know, has had at least one cat run over...

well here it's harder to have an outside dog in the city because of the danger that the animal would freeze to death overnight ...

Just wanted to share another perspective from the "horror" category. People in the states who have animals, rescue animals, care for animals, work with animals know that outside dogs lead to more dogs. One of the biggest problems with the animal overpopulation in the US is that people don't spay/neuter their dogs. Then if they are outside dogs they go off and get another dog or get themself pregnant. The southern shelters are overrun with puppies that are dropped off at the shelter because their outside dog got pregnant. And these puppies have 3 - 5 days to be adopted or they are euthanized. And this doesn't just effect puppies. Many shelters across the states can't handle the overpopulation and 3 - 5 days is all these dogs have on death row.

If people were responsible dog owners as you are (getting vaccinations, etc) and actually spayed or neutered then less people would be aghast at the mention of an outside dog. I think it is just a different view. Also I wouldn't be ashamed of how much you paid for your puppies vaccinations. You chose to have two dogs and to give them the healthy life they deserve. In doing so there are costs involved and you need to pay them to be a responsible dog owner. You also give back to the world in many different ways.

The reason it is preferred that dogs sleep and live inside doesn't have anything to do with temperature. It is because dogs are pack animals - in the wild they always live together in packs. Since we have domesticated them to such an extreme, we, humans, are their "packs". Most dogs become very sad if separated for long period from their pack. And most people only have one dog. Now, you have 3 dogs, so I wouldn't think it would be unhealthy to be outside since they have each other.

Why must it be "either/or" -- pet person or kid person? These things are not mutually exclusive as far as I'm concerned.

It really sucks that you got judgemental comments in the post where you talked about your dogs, but now it feels like you've sort of turned that around and there's judgement cast in the direction of those who dote on their pets. Please know that there are plenty of petandkid people (because I refuse to "either/or" myself ;)) out there like me who *didn't* judge you for how you care for your dogs (or think a thing of it, frankly...I grew up in a rural area where lots of folks kept their dogs outside, though my family did not) and who have room in their hearts for both human and animal causes.

I was the biggest dog and cat lover before I had kids. 4 stray cats and an rescued retired racing greyhound all lived INDOORS (ugh! I'm embarassed to admit it). Then came my son. And suddenly all of the fur, care, expense - it became too much. We gave away the cats and tried to keep the dog for awhile, but it didn't work out.

Now that we are pet free, I can't imagine having indoor pets again!!! EEEk.

I also think I must be a South African on the inside, because the only thing worse than putting shoes on my feet is putting shoes on my kids feet. (and don't get me started on the helmets...)

So, I guess I am going to offend pet lovers everywhere when I say I choose the 'kid' tin EVERY TIME.

I'm with chasa; it's a false dichotomy. Your either/or choice is silly. If I have no money and one dollar to donate to make the difference, then I donate to the child fund. If a dog and a child are drowning in front of me, I save the child. If I have money (which I do) I donate to them both. If I can I save them both.

You seem to do well enough to provide an excellent life for your kids. Providing an excellent life for all of your family, including the dogs, is great.

We're not talking about which charity to give to, we're talking about family members that we're responsible for. Loving and caring for an animal who is a family member does not ipso facto, mean you are leaving children to starve.

Just like going out to dinner does not mean you are leaving a child to starve. Or going to the movies means that someone will die BECAUSE OF YOUR SELFISH MOVIE-GOING!

Loving and caring for our animals, keeping them safe and warm with us, does not mean that we are indiferent to starving children.

Where I live dogs live very shortened lives if they live outside. They often get lonely and go fairly mad when left to themselves. People here buy or rescue dogs and then leave them without company or love and the pain you see there will break your heart. A dog crippled by neglect and cold and outside living in this area is just pain personified. The suffering of a creature totally dependent on people who don't care about it.

How can you ask someone to compare that to the pain a child feels? Aren't they both valid?

A dog, where I live, should not be left outside. Neither should a child. I work hard to make sure that I'm part of the solution for BOTH problems.

On the other hand, in your temperate climate, if your dogs are well socialized, fed and have somewhere to get out of bad weather, go for it.

"We gave away the cats and tried to keep the dog for awhile, but it didn't work out."

We rescue the dogs that get dumped because they are "too old" or "too hairy" or "too inconvenient". And we even have a kid! We foster them and try to find them homes where they are wanted.

These dumped animals have horrible, horrible nightmares. Don't you ever believe that damage isn't done when an animal is ditch by its family, because I've seen it first-hand. And if they aren't rescued they are killed horribly for no other reason than the person who was supposed to love and protect them decided they had hair. As if that was something new. An unforseen development. The dog had HAIR? Who knew??

I have seen the fallout of the casual giving-away of family pets. It's heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking.

My parents were turned down once when they tried to adopt a stray dog. There was one question on the application that asked if you would consider the pet a "member of the family". My mom marked "No" and explained, "My daughter is a family member, this dog would be a pet. A very well-cared for and beloved pet, but a PET nonetheless."

They turned her down and kept the dog at the shelter. A shelter that euthanizes. Talk about lacking perspective.

I put a dollar in BOTH :) It's only a dollar, and I am in the circumstance to be generous. If I were not, I would probably not put a dollar in either because my children come first. My dogs are inside dogs, at night, but they spend the majority of their day outside because they prefer it. However, I live in town, and if my dogs are barking outside at night, which they will do because there are deer and other wild life, then I will disturb my neighbors, which I just won't do. Also, where I used to live which was out in the "country" there were coyotes and dogs allowed out that roamed in packs, which was very dangerous. I wouldn't allow my cats to stay out at night because of the coyotes and fisher cats, if I had they would never have come home, and I'm sure my dogs would have been badly hurt. If there are wild animals roaming your backyard, I'm assuming you won't let your puppies fend for themselves? My dogs are very energetic and active and love to play outside together, but at night they want to lie down at our feet by the fire (I draw the line at letting them on the furniture)and you know what? I like them being there. After all, they are companion animals, not livestock, working dogs, or guard dogs. I don't think that giving your dog a spot on the floor at night is particularly lavish...it's just a spot on the floor, a little shelter and comfort at the end of the day. In any case, we humans, at least us Europeans, have been giving dogs a spot on the floor for over 1000 years.

Things ARE different here in the states, although I'm not horrified at the thought of outdoor pets. I grew up with them - and the heartbreak of losing them to cars on the highway and wild animals - lost an entire litter of kittens to a bobcat as a teenager. Now that I'm on my own, I've chosen not to run the risk of letting my current cats outside. I've also accepted the fact that they're the closest I'll probably ever have to children of my own, so yes, they're pampered - to the point that they even sleep on my bed. That, though, will change when I get married...

I admit my dollar would go in the pet tin. There are so many other programs here that help people, and while yes, the charity is legitimate, I'm not certain the recipients are. Yes, I know I sound horrid, and I know I would feel differently if I were in South Africa or even if our own economy was different. Here, though, I've known too many people who CHOOSE to live in their circumstances. I know parents who can't afford to buy school lunch for their kids, so the kids are in the free lunch program, but yet the same parents spend more than that each day for cigarettes. Too many people happy to accept food stamps, but too proud to work at McDonald's, because someone might see them. Animals can't help their situations; people here generally can.

I voted for the dog tin. I have a child and no pets and don't plan to get any.

My rationale is that most people would vote for the child tin, so I'd give my money to the dog.

Even though I am not a pet person in any way, I can't stand the thought of dogs or any pets being mistreated.

Of course ideally, I'd put money in both, but that was my choice of the either/or.

Been reading for years but first comment. Love your blog. I would always give to the kid tin. I think after having kids of my own my cats became just pets and no longer "fur babies". And yes they did sleep in my bed and I did kiss them so we were very close. That being said, cats and dogs are required to be vaccinated for rabies in my U.S. state (Connecticut). You really don't want to take any chances on your pet exposing you to rabies. Vets in the U.S. cost alot b/c they went to very expensive vet school taking around eight years. Someone has to flip the bill for that. I feel if you get a pet you have an obligation to look after it(at least rabies vaccinations and spay/neuter) I only have cats and they are indoor animals b/c it is too dangerous outside for them. We have lots of foxes and the odd coyote around.

On the subject of doggie cultural differences, I'll never forget the day I learned about "crating" dogs.

Most people I know around here (Australia) put the dog out at night or while they're not home, and have the dog inside while they are home. There are exceptions to this on both sides (some dogs are always out, some dogs are always in). But when I say outside I mean in a fenced yard. Most dogs are sterilized anyway, but in theory it should be pretty hard for it to get out and make puppies.

When a friend in the US told me that her dog was crated all day while she wasn't home, I was absolutely horrified! She then went on to tell me that it's thought to be beneficial - a cosy area for the dog to feel safe. I'm still not sure how I feel about that one, but I guess it is all about perception.

FWIW, I gave my dollar to the kid. I love animals but to me, the kid is higher up the food chain. If there was a possibility to split my dollar, or to give another dollar, then I would give equally.

I grew up with outside dogs and in-and-out cats. I married a man who had an in-and-out dog, and my inside cat became an outside cat due to DH's allergies. We now have an outside dog and an outside cat.

Bottom line: We both got sick of all the damn fur in the house.

Our pets are healthy and have warm fur coats. And we live in a nice climate, with short and mild winters. When they do come inside, they immediately want to go back out. We spend a lot of time outside playing with them. When it does freeze here, which is rare, the pets come inside and sleep in the garage. I think this arrangement works for us, but we do get some flack from some animal-lovers we know.

First time posting here! It's always the pet thing that will bring some of us out of the woodwork. I absolutely can't stand the thought of any animal suffering... particularly a dog, since I have two of them that I love dearly. They have always been "indoor" dogs, they sleep in my bed, and I could never imagine leaving them outside other than for exercise or "potty time." Why? They are pack animals, and they crave human attention. They would be miserable and lonely outside (though far better to leave two or three out together than one poor lonely soul). They are totally delightful companions, and I enjoy having them around me... so what if there's dog hair on the carpet, that's why they invented vacuum cleaners.

I would be worried sick if I left them outside that some crazy would come along and steal them or poison them or hurt them (plus, I don't want them barking and annoying the neighbors). I have no problem whatsoever with you leaving your dogs outside, Tertia, as long as they have each other, the weather is temperate, and they get plenty of love and attention. Safety is paramount, as well as emotional connection and stimulation. What KILLS me, though, are those people like the poster above, who could just blithely "get rid" of a pet after a baby comes along, as though suddenly the commitment you made to love and care for this creature has reached an expiration date. Do you intend to "get rid" of your first child when the second one comes along then? Such selfishness! People who aren't willing to make a commitment for the lifetime of a pet should NEVER get one. They aren't just toys to be recycled or thrown out as soon as the novelty wears off. They have feelings and are deeply wounded by abandonment (as we all would be)!

As for the tins, why does it have to be "either/or"? Suffering is suffering, period. If it happens to a child (or an adult) it's a terrible thing. If it happens to an animal, it's also a terrible thing. It's our responsibility, as human stewards of this planet, to try to alleviate all suffering wherever it exists. We can't do it all alone, which is why I'm glad there are people who will put the money in the child's tin, AND people who will put their money in the dog's tin. It all has to be accomplished somehow.

Dog tin every time. I'm a huge animal lover and have 3 cats (currently pregnant also), have been my whole life and will always give to the animals over the kid. There are plenty of people/charities/opportunities for kids to get help but not so many for animals, so that's why they get my money. Plus, they are so damn cute.

De-lurking for the first time--but your post was on something I had been thinking of recently. My dad grew up on a farm in Minnesota, US but moved to the suburbs to raise his family. While we had pets growing--who lived indoors--and he was good with them--he used to say that pets belonged outside. when I was a kid i thought that was horrible. But now that I've got a 2 yr old and indoor pets that WON'T EVEN GO OUTSIDE--all I can say is that pets belong outside. so, no, it's not weird or even S African. And I agree totally.

The part of this question that made my eye twitch last time was the "people are more valuable than animals!" comments.

If we're in a burning building and I can only save one? My God, of course I would pick up the child. But my money goes to the animals every time. I don't value animals more than children, but at least in the US the problems faced by domestic animals are created by humans, and overall the problems get less attention and less money.

I do want to add one thing, and I mean this to be gentle: I have spent years working on the fringes of rescue/shelter work. The people who do it full time, though...that is a tough job that most people would not want to imagine doing. People working in shelters have plenty of perspective. At my first job, where we ran a shelter, we had one person pull the dog out of their trunk. One woman's hands were still bloody from the beating she had just given the dog. I have friends working at our local shelter who have to decide which animals live and which die. They kill many, many animals. It's an incredibly mentally challenging job, and I haven't known anyone doing it for any period of time who has come out of it unscathed.

I feel sorry for both, and will give to the dog. Because? There are so many irresponsible parents out there that do not take responsibility for their existing children and do not use birth control. That really hacks me off. Why should I now be responsible for their mistakes? Harsh I know, and controversial, but that is how I feel! (BTW: I do donate to BB!)

I'd save my pet from a burning building over a random child. That should be enough of an answer.

I voted for the dog simply because I love animals. I also think that humans can be so reliant (think of the guide dogs) on animals so they need our support.

Don't forget darling that by showing your puppies love by vaccinating them against some dreadful things to die from you are being humane, and demonstrating to Adam & Kate yet another opportunity to do good for others who cannot do for themselves. A pet is a great way to teach life lessons, beyond the circle of life.

We all make choices each day to help or hinder whether it is about the ground we live on, the people we share our space with, the animals we share our planet with, or the air we all breathe.

There are many little things positives that add up to bigger things in ways we sometimes don't consider. What if the family from whom you got the dogs now has some extra money to do good for others themselves? What if by paying for vaccines and/or an office visit you keep a vet practice open and employing people? What if that same practice can then afford to charitable work in the form of adoptions, vaccinations, spaying/neutering or simply helping an animal that has been hurt and whose owner cannot afford to pay? What if by vaccinating your puppies, you keep another family safe because your dogs won't carry disease? What if the profit off of vaccines enables research to happen on other diseases that impact animals and the humans around them? Don't feel bad about the joy that 2 adorable pups give your children and the expense of caring properly for them - you just never know where the trickle down path will head or for how long it will travel.

Also, I think we know you well enough to know that you'll still manage to find a way to find ways to help the "kiddie tin" that you see next.


O please, pack animals, blah, blah, blah. This is cultural, not cruelty to animals. We still live in a country where you can have 900 square meters of land and not call it a ranch. Big dogs belong outside. And as long as they are cared for they will not peg over and die. I've had many a dog that has lived to a ripe old age outside. It doesn't mean we didn't love or care for them more or less, just that they were where they were supposed to be, "naturally, in their pack".

As for the tins, snotty kid wins.

Keep up the good work Tertia, you'll educate nations on our backward African ways :)

I think that the differences you see with dogs in/dogs out and barefoot/not barefoot are the differences between city and country living, at least in the U.S. My grandparents lived in the country, and their dogs definitely lived outside. I grew up in the city, and the dog lived inside. As for barefoot, I am barefoot whenever I can be (and refuse to have my hard-earned callouses removed!) -- even in the winter while inside the house. Most people around here (small town) do not go barefoot, even in the summer. But, at my grandparents' house, we didn't wear shoes at all when we visited them -- unless we were going to town.

Definitely the dog tin! HUGE animal lover. We've got three Whippets, living inside, as close as possible, being hugged and kissed all day. They share our beds too! (inside, not on top!) ;)

I pay a lot of taxes that go toward the care of poor/hungry children, poor families, schools, athletic programs, etc. So whenever I open the paper and see an unwed, unemployed girl half my age with 3 kids under 3...I know that my hard-earned dollars are going toward their medical care and upkeep.

That's why when I get the chance to actually choose where my dollar goes, the dog tin gets it every time. (Typed while my formerly-abused formerly-stray terrier dog cuddles on my lap. He has nightmares every other day or so and I wish I could stop them. )

For us, the indoor/outdoor split is more of a rural/urban thing. I know lots of people on farms who keep their animals outside. It's not a lack of love, either. It's because, as you say, the dogs and cats have jobs (protecting, keeping mice away), as well as being pets.

My cats are indoor cats because it's not safe out there for them in my urban setting. Too many cars and creeps out there.

As for who has a "better" life of the two, well - that's something I'm sure I'll hear about in the afterlife.

Honestly, I was raised with dogs ... were inside/outside dogs. Never really thought about it until a friend commented on how having a 130 pound lab live indoors with you was like allowing a goat in your house. :)

Mostly, as an adult and pet-owner I have looked to the dog for the answer to the inside/outside issue. I live in an area that gets really hot during the summer and really cold in the winter so I always keep the dog inside on weather extreme days. But the rest of the time I look to the dog. I had a chocolate lab that would have liked to never come inside. He loved being "free" and just roaming around our property (we have many acres - unfenced). He was what my husband and I called a dogs dog. He had strong dog instincts and loved being outside - sleeping outside and everything. Then I had a Golden Retriever. He was like a reincarnated old man. He loved having the freedom of being outside during the day but wanted the comfort of his lovely bed inside the house at night. Now I have a yellow lab that HATES the great outdoors with a white hot passion. I swear the dog would completely avoid going outside EVER by using a cat's liter pan if I would let him. He tiptoes through the grass to find a place to do his business and then high-tails it back to the safety of his house. Big dork!

The Dog Tin. EVERY time. Am so disappointed with the human race. I like dogs better.

I loved Nicole's comment (way towards the top) about how much I/we appreciate your blog... how it broadens our perspective on the world and different cultures. So, for that T, I will always thank you! PLEASE don't let anything stop you from blogging, or make you second-guess yourself on topics! XXX

Now, on to the question at hand...

I grew up yearning for pets (cats/dogs), but could never have any because:
#1. Mom is allergic to dogs and brother is allergic to cats.
#2. Our family was on Welfare, so could barely feed ourselves - much less afford to keep a pet!

So after college, I got myself My First Dog (rescued from a shelter). I adored him, and a year later, bought a puppy (same breed) as a "friend" for him. Now, 15 years later, we have the (8 yr old) daughter from that "puppy" along with 2 totally indoor cats.

I adore my pets, but have to admit that my perspective changed (much to my chagrin!) after children joined our family. I used to think people were crazy whose attitudes towards their pets changed after they had kids, but it really CAN change your priorities. Now, certainly, I never would/could get RID of my pets "just" because I now am a mother. But my dogs/cats are now PART of my family... not my ONLY family. KWIM?

So, with that in mind, I guess I'd be more inclined to give to the "Child" tin. Though - if you had asked me 10 years ago - I might have first considered the "Animal" tin.

Kid tin, no contest EVER! I am an animal lover and have a spoiled rotten dog (i.e. she's getting her TEETH CLEANED next week and I keep putting my own cleaning off because I don't want to spend the $80 - how ironic is that?), but in day to day life I do differentiate between human family members and pets. My dog actually loves to sleep outside and prefers it over being inside...she's a "guardian livestock dog" and likes to do what she was created to do, which is be a dog and protect her turf and her family. No, we don't let her sit on the furniture, we don't let her sleep in our beds, we don't let her beg at our table... but she is loved and very well cared for - please don't call the Humane Society on me!

tertia, reading your comments something becomes apparent. africa is not for sissies (or sissy dogs or cats). we live hard, party hard, love hard, etc... i would vote 'kid' every single time. being south african (an loving it, wouldn't want to be anywhere else) i know personally the heartbreak of seeing the less fortunate scrape to stay alive.

i was chatting to someone at a party the other day about going 'organic'. i do admit, i go organic as far as possible but this twit was saying how she couldn't understand how someone would buy chicken at pnp. i just thought to myself - 'bitch, get off your high damn horse!'

i can't understand how someone would chose the animal. well, that is my opinion - everyone's entitled it their own, i guess.

Don't have postinfg regret! This is an interesting discussion :-)

I love dogs and cats but for me, animals go outside (in a fenced yard); humans inside. If I do not have a nice, well-protected yard, no pets. If I travel too much, no pets. I always thought it was cruel to have dogs living indoors all the time with little space to run or chase birds anytime they want, especially when people keep them in apartments. Weather is a consideration too but I always lived in temperate climates so I have not been in that situation.
Regarding feeling embarrassed… I think we should not feel shame for the money we have if it was honestly acquired; that includes not only your pet’s vaccines but also a nice car, house or whatever you may have. However, it is also our moral obligation to give back to those who are not so fortunate (to compensate) and I think in that regard, both you and your sister, have accomplished a lot :)

PS: I liked Nicole's comment about cultural differences

I am just curious about whether the posters who are criticizing the mom who got rid of her pets are vegetarian or vegan? If not, how do you reconcile your strong beliefs in the feelings of animals to factory farming, killing and eating animals?

Don't have posting regret! It's a very interesting topic. It's good for those of us completely on one side to read the views of others.

(Wow, I didn't realize my comment is almost exactly the same as Stephanie's.)

THe kid tin for sure. I like animals but after I had kids then our dog definately moved down on the totem pole! I kind of feel bad for outside dogs but I'm not sure why. in the wild they live outside right? our dog is little, and an indoor dog. I live in a very cold area so I think our dog would freeze when it gets below zero. We have winter at least 6 months of the year. I think some of the bigger dogs around here are outside dogs but not many are outside at all times. I'd be more willing to have an outside dog if I had more than one. Alone, they just seem so sad. And we do crate our dog when we are gone. She actually is sleeping in her crate right now (door open, as we are home). She loves it, and would be a nervous wreck if we left her out when we were gone. Maybe we have trained her to be that way. The times we have left her out when we are gone, she goes the bathroom all over the house and is shaking and whining when we get home. That is how some recommend training puppies, they usually won't go the bathroom in their crate but if left out will go.

The "dogs outside" thing is hard for me.

I know you love your dogs dearly, I know you would never hurt them. I am afraid that if I criticize your practices you will hate me.

I know you are a compassionate, ethical, thoughtful person.

But I also feel that you have some of the same misconceptions about dogs that many other people have, including here in the US.

You think that the dogs are OK because they have each other (msot people think that dogs provide adequate companionship for each other), but they're not.

Dogs feel emotionally obliterated without their pack. The core of the pack is you & Marko (you are the alpha male and female), NOT the other dogs. Every minute of their lives that they are separated from the alpha pack members is stressful for them.

Sitting outside in a yard all day, with no stimulation, no exercise, no social contact, and nothing to do but bark at random noises -- that is a miserable life for a dog. Life in the yard is basically solitary confinement for a dog, even though other dogs are present, because without the alpha male and female, the other pack members just don't signify.

Please, just let them live inside with your family. The dogs' suffering is so easily remedied (unlike the suffering of countless impverished Africans) because you could just let them live inside with you.

This comment will probably make you hate me. I understand. I am sorry. Sometimes people have criticized me for how I care for my dog, and it's always made me v. v. angry because I love my dog more than anything and would NEVER hurt the dog, and HOW DARE THEY imply that they know better than I do? Do they have any IDEA that I spend about $350/month on a dog walker service so that my dog won't be isolated and bored while I'm at work? (I waited to acquire a dog until I could afford this service because it would be cruel to leave a dog alone all day without exercise and stimulation.) Do those critics have any idea that my dog goes to the vet more than I go to the doctor? Do they have any idea that I exercise my dog every single day even in freezing sleet, walking on icy roads, and in biting wind? Etc. etc.

I don't know what to do. On the one hand, I feel that your dogs suffer if kept in the yard and that you could easily remedy this. On the other, I don't want to lose your friendship and respect.

Sorry for going on so long. I promise not to preach at you any more on this topic.

Let me jsut add: keeping dogs outside where they have WORK to do (on a farm or ranch) is not cruel because the dog is stimulated and active and working with a boss (his alpha). That is very different from a suburban dog sitting inside a fenced yard all day.

It's so interesting to me that so many people said animal because there are enough charities for kids.

In the US there were laws against animal cruelty LONG before there were laws protecting kids. In fact, the kid laws were based on the animal laws...

And I think also, animals are easier to help - you know - picking up a stray kitten is quite different, and a lot less complicated than intervening when you see a child in trouble.

It's not such a no-brainer to me that kids really are higher up on the totem pole. Just my two cents...

When we went to select our first dog, the first shelter we contacted rejected our application. Spouse had grown up putting his dog outside in a run when no one was home, and first shelter believed this was cruel and inhumane and the fact that he spent hundreds of dollars and an entire weekend building a fenced-in doggy run rendered us unfit doggy owners. We needed to understand that dogs were pack animals who, in the absence of other dogs, needed our company. When we were gone, a cave-like indoor crate was the appropriate choice.

We went with another dog shelter, but ended up with a formerly-abused dog who couldn't have been left outside by herself without causing herself physical damage. If left alone in the house, she ripped apart a couch. The crate turned out to be her salvation, on those spare days when I was at the library and not working at home on my dissertation.

In the 1950s, almost all US dogs lived outside.

If my dog and my children were starving and I only had one piece of bread, I'd give it my children. Child tin for me.

Funny - my mother is staying with me. She is from a small town and we live right outside NYC. She came home from a walk yesterday amazed - she had just seen a 'school bus' that picks up dogs and brings them to doggie daycare. She thinks people who spend that kind of money on pets are crazy and that this predicts the downfall of American civilization.

Kid tin, for sure. Not that I don't love dogs...in fact, we lost our beloved 13 y/o yellow lab 3 weeks ago today and it was one of the worst days of my life. But priority-wise, my life revolves around kids; mine and those around me. Always has, always will.

I agree with Heh's sentiment...my dogs come first.
And as a Full-time, puppy miller rescue person, Cooler Doula has no idea what she is referencing in her aforementioned statement. There are very, very few laws against animal cruelty.
Nonetheless, just like your kids, you need to keep your dogs healthy and safe, so you shouldn't feel ridiculous about protecting their well (as well) being by bringing them to the vet despite fees.

My commment was not on the *quality* on the laws - you're right - I cant speak to that - the point I was making was that in the US, animal anti cruelty laws PREDATED laws protecting child rights. I won't stoop to suggesting you don't know what you're referencing, but perhaps you might want to take a closer reading of other's comments next time.

They are dogs, not people. For the person above who said dogs are suffering outside and it is like solitary confinement... what ??? I see many dogs outside running and playing with each other. They don't look like they are suffering to me. And I'm sure that Tertia's dogs do get to interact with the family. I'm sure they aren't left out by themselves alone all day long. If you are taking your dog to the vet more than you go to the doctor, there is something wrong with that. your life is worth more than your dog's you have to admit that. And as much as you love dogs, to spend 350/mon for a dog walker sounds a little crazy. I'm sure the dog could wait until you get home to take a walk. 99% of dogs do not have a dog walker and are you saying they are all depressed and suffering?? Come on....

High fences and walls? Will that keep out the lions? It is Africa, after all.

*runs and hides*

I'm finding this a really interesting discussion. A couple of things...treating animals humanely is not the 'downfall of our civilization.' A shelter I work with has adopted a philosophy based on Gandhi's statement.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Gandhi

Also, dogs don't live outdoors in the wild. Dogs are domesticated. Dogs are not dingoes (who would certainly eat your baby if they lived in your house!) or wolves. Not the same thing at all. Domesticated dogs are much more dependent on humans.

Not touching the indoor/outdoor thing. We have a lot of ranch dogs where I live, but overall this is not a dog-running-loose friendly environment. I'm not going to try to speak to someone else's circumstances in an entirely different country.

Jennifer, the dogs that you see running and playing outside are usually accompanied by their alphas. If you videotaped dogs left outside in a fenced yard all day long, you would see that they are quite sedentary, apart from anxious pacing and checking the gate to see when their owners come home. They are NOT playing in a carefree fashion.

I say that as long as you have a nice, shaded, backyard with a place to go in the cold(either shelter or inside) and as long as you can spend plenty of time with them in the back yard, then dogs belong outside. My mother-in-law thinks leaving dogs outside is wrong, but I think that keeping dogs inside all day with only a couple of bathroom breaks goes against their nature.

I would pick the dog tin. I work in child welfare, specifically in foster care with children with severe history's of abuse or neglect, or mental health issues, a special kind of care called therapeutic foster care. I give most of my time to those children, and would choose to give some of my other attention to other causes.

It is true that animal cruelty laws were enacted before child welfare laws and that the animal laws were used to prosecute the first child abuse criminial cases here in the US. It's because children were considered legal property of their parents and therefore the government didn't have the right to intervene. Obviously that has changed.

I have 3 dogs. We have a nice size fenced in backyard. We have 2 beagles,making the fence necessary, or we'd lose them. They like being outside, they like going on walks, they like being chased by us and chasing each other. But they love being inside with us, cuddled up against us. We are their pack and have made a commitment to them. Some dogs do do ok with being outside most of the time, mine wouldln't and many others wouldn't.

I don't think its a cultural thing of SA vs US or any other country, I think its in how we were all raised and our own personal inclination. My parents felt that pets were nothing more than furry family accessories, my brother and I are both intense animal lovers. I know many people who have had animals that never came inside and some who never let them outside and both had happy healthy animals.

To whoever asked the vegan/vegetarian question. I think the person was referring to those who take in an animal as part of their family with the commitment to care for them long term and then get rid of them when it becomes inconvenient. It's a totally different issues than whether one eats meat or not.

As long as there are people in need, the kid tin gets my vote every time. Just as SOON as we've taken care of our own starving species, I'll focus on the others.

My parents live near many Native Americans who also think white people are crazy for the same reason. Our dogs also live inside but here in Puerto Rico, people think we are nuts.

Why oh why do people have to be such assholes! Really - you asked a question. You made a black and white scenario. It's your blog - you can do that. People who don't like it can close the browser window and move the fuck on, right?? AM I RIGHT???

And yes - dogs are animals and animals live outdoors. That's why they still have fur and we don't.

I left my comment on the child vs dog on the poll (sorry for the double post).
On the indoor vs outdoor question. I am moving to Canada in a few months and although my family has had a dog or dogs for most of my life, I will not own a dog in canada - at least not as long as I live in an apartment.
The reasons?
1. I would not like to share an apartment with a dog. I'm one of those "dogs belong outside" people. Our dog comes inside to hang out with us sometimes, but does not have the run of the house, doesn't go on furniture, and knows the command "outside" as well as his name.
2. I don't see myself keeping a dog in that sort of restrictive environment, especially for hours at a time while I'm at work. (I believe that dogs should have space to run around, especially the sorts of big dogs that I like.)
3. I have only read about a pooper scooper. Never seen one in my life and the thought of scooping dog poop is gag-inspiring to me. My dog goes off to do his business in the pastures around our house and comes back.

Growing up, our dogs were always outside dog. When I heard about crating, I thought it was crazy. Then I lived in apartment complexes where people just left their dogs out on the balcony all day and night to bark and bark. I swore that when I had a dog, I would not leave it out all the time--not because I think it cruel but because I wouldn't want to be the person with the barking dog.

Living in a subdivision is like living in each other's pockets. So now that we do have dogs. we kennel/crate them. I still think it's kind of mean, but they've been kenneled since they were pups, so they seem OK with it. As for socializing ... hmmm. They're nice to us, does that count? They know their names, know to sit, and bark like mad at all the squirrels. They're dogs, not children, and as far as I know, they don't have any career prospects to be socialized toward.

Dog tin, without a doubt.

A dog saved my life when I was just 2 years old. A day at the beach almost ended very badly when a rogue wave swept me into the ocean. My Grandparents dog jumped in and pulled me out. I am a bog time animal lover, but dogs, well they are special.

My Husband and I are currently raising a new puppy. We got our first dog together almost 14 years ago. When she passed in December of last year I knew that I'd have another dog. I am just a better person when I have a dog in my life.

My dog easily has a better life then many people. I take the job of raising her very seriously. We are a pack, she's a RAW fed carnivore who spends part of every day running through the woods and it thrills me to no end to watch as she becomes all she was meant to be. Today I taught her about rock jumping in the brook that runs behind my house. Each night she starts out on her own bed and then at some point she comes up onto the bed and be with her pack.

Many people put their time and energy into raising their children. Life didn't work out that way for me and so my time and effort is spent raising my dog. One is no more right then the other.

Dog tin, without a doubt.

A dog saved my life when I was just 2 years old. A day at the beach almost ended very badly when a rogue wave swept me into the ocean. My Grandparents dog jumped in and pulled me out. I am a bog time animal lover, but dogs, well they are special.

My Husband and I are currently raising a new puppy. We got our first dog together almost 14 years ago. When she passed in December of last year I knew that I'd have another dog. I am just a better person when I have a dog in my life.

My dog easily has a better life then many people. I take the job of raising her very seriously. We are a pack, she's a RAW fed carnivore who spends part of every day running through the woods and it thrills me to no end to watch as she becomes all she was meant to be. Today I taught her about rock jumping in the brook that runs behind my house. Each night she starts out on her own bed and then at some point she comes up onto the bed and be with her pack.

Many people put their time and energy into raising their children. Life didn't work out that way for me and so my time and effort is spent raising my dog. One is no more right then the other.

I, too, am an animal lover but I agree with a comment above, they are pets even when they become your "best" friends. My in-laws are so besotted with their 2 dogs that when my FIL was in hospital to have a bi-pass, he had a silver framed photograph of the 2 dogs next to his bed - his children felt quite annoyed about that. They also hate it when he refers to the dogs as their brothers....

The kid tin would always get my dollar.

I love my dog (who is an indoor dog), but humans come first. Always have, always will.

I live in the South USA and it is way too hot to keep dogs outside here, plus I live on the water and that is another dangerous area. I also could never have an "outside" dog because of the animal cruelty that is everywhere here. I do rely on my dogs for security as well, just from inside the house and they are awesome barkers with little bite. haha So it is better that they can sound ferocious from inside the house (and they do) LOL

Moving back to SA from the UK made me realise how much I had enjoyed not being accosted on every street corner by the extreme poverty that exists in this beautiful nation. The difference between the haves and have nots is stark. No doubt about it.

Like you, and many Saffas, I've found it so difficult to deal with. I've tried the blinkers thing (ie choosing NOT to see it, ignoring it completely), but wound up being hard-hearted and arrogant. I've tried the Saviour thing (ie giving to everyone in need that I see), and wound up being broke and wondering whether I'd actually made a difference at all. I've done the Reponsible thing (ie giving to a charity so that I know the money doesn't go on booze and drugs), but still wound up feeling guilty every time I drove past someone in need.

Then the other day it struck me. (OK - I'm a bit of a happy clappy like Mel, so please just bear with me here!) Even Jesus admitted that 'the poor will always be with you'. As long as this earth continues, there will be haves and have nots. That doesn't give us licence to just ignore the poor, or turn a blind eye, but it does release me a bit from the cloying guilt I feel of being one of the haves. I didn't ask to be born a have. As long as I'm trying to make a difference, I don't need to feel guilty about having.

Does that make sense, or am I just trying to delude myself again? Not sure. But it's made it easier for me to just accept that I have money, and others don't.

Reading your blog kinda makes me think how SIMILAR us Moms are, not how different. Your blog reminds me that even on the other side of the world, and in a different hemisphere, even though my (spoiled) dogs sleep on my bed, that we are all in this giant game of parenthood together and that raising kids is tough. We all feel the same fierce love for our children, and we all deal with similar problems and worries. T, your blog makes me feel better about the world because I realize at least us Moms form a global village. :)

Nixgrim, that is a huge question that we all have to deal with. Most of us in the western world don't have it shoved in our faces every day like in Tertia in SA so it's way easier to turn the blind eye but we all need to think about it.

Would totally give to the kid tin. However, my dogs are both short-haired, indoor dogs. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to leave them outside, even if there weren't wild anmimals that would rip them to shreds. (there are) Incidentally, I don't think it's terrible, or a crime, to leave outdoor dogs, out. While dogs are clearly not children, like children, each is different, requiring different consideration in housing, discipline, etc. These differences might sometimes be mere choices, and other times, requirements. Either way; judge not.

Aside - I too, feel the same pain and guilt over funds spent on animals, cars, and the like, knowing that those same funds could change the life of a less fortunate child. Sigh.

i totally agree with what you are saying. i get aggravated with people who state that you are EVIL and INHUMANE for leaving your dog outside. I don't bash or make comments of those who decide to keep their dogs inside yet always hear these people bash those who leave their dogs outside. Shut up and everything works out.

My poor 4 year old son in Hong Kong would love to have a dog. I grew up in South Africa where we had outside dogs and definitely no cats (all allergic to the fur), poor soul he is now saving for a house with a garden - he's got about HK$600 saved, which makes him only about HK$64,999,400 short of what he'd need for a small house with a tiny garden here.

On the tin thing. I'm not sure. I think the world is pretty over populated as it is. Should we be saving people or animals? Certainly not domestic pets. I'd put my money in neither, but save it for a tin for the rainforests or rhinos.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Medsitters Au pairs

More Ads

| More


Bloggy Stuff

  • Living and Loving

  • SA Blog Awards Badge

  • Featured in Alltop

  • Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

  • RSS Feed
Blog powered by Typepad
This is the Reviews Design