Even Fur Babies Can Be Badly Parented

by admin on August 16, 2011

Repost if you love your pet…..but don’t care for your guests

There is a Facebook status that I am seeing pop up frequently amongst my on-line “friends”.  Due to the nature of the post, I have been hesitant to comment back to these people for fear of offending, but I’m sure I’ll be safe here amongst etiquette-loving friends.   I’m sure you’ve all seen the post before (those of you who are Facebook users), it’s goes something like this:

TO NON-PET LOVERS who visit our homes and complain about our pets. 1) They live here, you don’t. 2) If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That’s why they call it ‘Fur’-niture. 3) Chances are, I love my pets more then I like you. 4) To you, they are animals.To me, they are my babies and family … who are hairy, walk on all fours & don’t talk back and don’t judge! Re-post if you love your pet.

So, here is my response:

1) No, I don’t live here, but you have invited me here as your guest and, as such, should be aiming to be hospitable and make me feel at ease – not make me feel like I’m in the way of your cat.

2) See number 1). And maybe think about giving the place a little clean-up.

3) Well, why did you invite me here, then? I think I’ll just go and leave you to your pets and then we’ll all be happy.

4) If your actual babies barked at me from the second I entered the door and then proceeded to bite and scratch at my legs, you would probably stop them – wouldn’t you? You want your children to grow up being respectful adults that other people enjoy being around, why would you not want the same thing for your “hairy babies”?

Now, I’m no great animal lover, but I’m definitely no animal hater, either. I do understand people’s love and affection for their pets, but the joy of being a host and having guests in your home is to make them feel comfortable and to enjoy their company – not to stand them in a corner so as not to bother your precious pets.

I work as a community nurse, visiting new mothers in their homes to check their babies. This is a free service that mothers volunteer to undertake. I do not appreciate those families who allow their dogs to jump all over me, stick their nose in my bag and lick my hands. I’m here to see your baby, and now I have to go to another home to see another newborn baby with your dog’s lick all over my leg – now, that’s not very hygienic or fair on the next family, is it?

In short, if you can’t be bothered to try and make your home an enjoyable place for guests, don’t bother inviting them over!   0810-11

Just as there are bad parents who let their darling little Fufus get away with entitled murder, there are bad pet owners who don’t teach their pets any manners and feel that the world should revolve around their furballs.  Their pet can do no wrong and so bad behavior like licking, jumping up, barking, etc. are all condoned so that Fluffy The Special Snowflake Dog doesn’t get his feelings hurt.

{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

LeeLee88 August 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

I’m an almost-rabid animal rights activist, and I can’t stand going to homes like this. It’s not good for the humans, and it’s no good for the animal if there aren’t any boundaries and little maintenance. Would you let your toddler run around like a banshee, rolling in his own shed hair? No, you wouldn’t, and if those animals really were your babies, you’d teach them and care for them properly as you would a human baby. At the point of filth and recklessness, they aren’t your “babies”, they are your excuse to not have to be a good host or a good animal parent.

All right, I’m off the soap box now :-P

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Just Laura August 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

I hate it when I’m invited to someone’s home, and learn this person has a large dog that will jump on me. As a person who absolutely does not like dogs (I’m afraid of them), I generally avoid them as much as possible. Now, I’ve never told anyone to put their dog away in their own home. Some dogs sit nicely in the corner and don’t cause a scene. But when the person says (as the dog’s paws are on my chest and its teeth are near my face) to “calm down, he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” I find I have to excuse myself because the last time I heard that, I was attacked shortly thereafter, and still have the shirt with the ragged tear in the side.

My husband happens to dislike cats. When we visit my cat-loving parents, the cats hide under the bed… I guess that problem takes care of itself. >^.^<

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Michelle P August 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

Amen to this. Thanks Admin. My parents have two dogs, one of which they allow to jump all over anyone. The dog has knocked down my daughter repeatedly when she was a toddler, and they said nothing. To this day the dog jumps on everyone, including my mother’s elderly mother, and the most they will do is say get down. This dog is not a puppy or even a young dog, either. They will not go anywhere if they have to leave those dogs, even when visiting family.

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MGB August 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

Thank you for your posting. I agree completely. I generally pay no attention to animals in my friends’ homes. I do not express either aversion or attraction to them. Just a smile. No petting or play. Now, I hear, “We know you don’t like dogs.” I really do; but, I prefer them “over there” so to speak. My parents had our dogs and cats and birds out of sight when people visited. (Yes, I had many pets and I loved them all, a lot.) If someone wanted to see them the guest was taken to the pet. I have heard several people say how much they appreciated my parents’ consideration. Some people are actually seriously afraid of animals for real reasons. Some ladies prefer to not have their hose shredded or their dresses soiled. And what man has not been ambushed from behind by an inquisitive snout? Keep pets out until your guest asks to see them, please.

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K August 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

3 stories.
1) In Jamaica, our guide told us we wouldn’t like how Jamaicans treat their dogs. 1 American woman dared to ask. The guide answered, “We treat them like dogs, not people.” I applauded.

2) Having an open yard for the tropical fruit club. We go look at each other’s yards, share fruit. Woman calls and asks if she can bring her cat. Um…no. I don’t want your cat roaming around my yard and frankly, it’s an insane request. Cat on a leash? Or you want to put it IN MY HOUSE while you’re outside? Let it roam free and get lost or hit by a car in a strange neighborhood? Are you so daft you REALLY think the cat is not happier being left at home?

3) Friend of the family more or less invites his whole family to my house for Thanksgiving. Um…well, that’s ok (I cook a lot and I like his family ok) until they say they have to bring their dog. I have 4 cats. I’m suppose to lock up my cats for the day so their dog can run all over my house? I don’t have a dog for a reason. I don’t WANT a smelly ol’ dog in my house. I told them it was impossible and canceled. Found out later that the dog is left at home all day every day while they’re all at work so leaving it at home for one meal would not be a freakin’ hardship.

Americans have some sick issues over pets. They are animals. They are not furry children. Look, it’s a real shame that you’re infertile and could never have kids but strollers for pets, dog parks? These are symptoms of insanity. Ya’ll are sick.

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Hemi Halliwell August 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

“Now, I’m no great animal lover, but I’m definitely no animal hater, either. I do understand people’s love and affection for their pets, but the joy of being a host and having guests in your home is to make them feel comfortable and to enjoy their company – not to stand them in a corner so as not to bother your precious pets.”
Amen.

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Hollanda, UK August 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

I object to the expression “fur babies”. They are not babies. They are animals. They need boundaries and should not be treated as mini humans. I absolutely loathe seeing poor pets being mollycoddled and treated like babies – being fed whatever their owners have for tea, and talked at in that awful pseudo-baby language. That drives me absolutely BATTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pets should have their own place in the house. Their own place does not include the table (for cats), the kitchen or the bedroom. Their place does not extend to them begging for food. Sure, when we have finished food and there is a little meat left, our 2 cats get the remainder of the meat mixed in with their catfood, but they don’t beg. The kitten tries it on, but he gets put into the corridor whilst we eat if he is just too annoying.

The cats sit on our laps, but not on the actual sofas. The sofas are cleaned regularly. We love and adore our cats, but they are in no way treated like children. It’s not good for the animal to not know their proper place in a household. Dogs even more so than cats!!

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Enna August 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

@ Admin, I think you are right there are some really bad pet owners and even though they love their animals a lot it verges to such an extreme at times it is animal abuse. I watched a programme once about cat lovers. One lady had a Persian cat and spent so much time fussing, petting, grooming, cleaning, putting make-up over the poor animal it literaly fought back! She had to hold it in a head lock. To me that is just crue. She entered her pet into a competition and was disqualifed for hissing and scratching at the judge!

My next door neighbours are very good dog owners. We hear the odd bark but it’s a playful bark not an aggressive or neglected bark and doesn’t keep us awake at night. They are quite worried the dog does but we do our best to reassure them that’s not the case. When I went round their house once it was spotless – there must be the odd hair floating about but that’s expected but you wouldn’t think there was a dog there the place was so tidy. If I had a dog I would do my best to ensure the animal was well controlled like my neighbours do. Yes their dog does jump up at times but they are good at predicting this and putting a firm hand on the collar.

Sometimes animals do misbehave, but it depends on how the owner reacts. If the owner deals with the bad behaviour properly and apologises then that’s different.

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LeeLee88 August 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

Well goodness gracious, K, no need to be a shrinking violet, why don’t you tell us how you really feel? Seriously though, that last bit there was harsh and unnecessary, and I’m a bit surprised that Admin let that one through.

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Serenity August 16, 2011 at 10:34 am

While I would never post this ( or any other “chain” bs) on my Facebook, I think the sentiment is more directed at the people who are extreme about their dislike of friend’s pets. For example, a friend of mine who doesn’t care for cats was over. She was on the couch, and when my cat jumped up there, on the other side to go to her favorite corner, (not coming near or even looking at my guest) said guest started yelling at her. UH, no. It IS her house and she does have a right to be there. I would never, and have never, allowed any pets of mine to be a nuisance, jump on, etc. etc. to my guests. All my animals have been well behaved, trained, and socialized. I am not going to lock up my pet when you’re over just because you have an extreme, unjustified dislike or fear of my animals. Of course, since I’ve found “most” animal haters to be pretty unlikeable themselves, the issue usually solves itself ;)

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Daisy August 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

I’ve proudly owned dogs for 50 years. Part of the pleasure of owning a dog is hearing someone say, “My, your dog is certainly well-behaved!”. Part of the responsibility is to train my animals so they offer no offense to anyone unless I tell them to. Sit, stay, down, wait, and off are simple commands to teach, easily learned by even the dimmest little furball. It just takes time and patience. When I see someone with a poorly behaved dog, I always wonder if the same lack of care goes into raising their children. I’ve owned everything from Cairn terriers and springer spaniels to my current 110 pound Lab-Collie cross, and have never heard a single complaint about any of them. It’s not rocket science; it’s responsibility. Here’s my responses to the Facebook post:
1. I’m your guest. If you don’t want me to be comfortable here, don’t invite me.
2. Clever puns are fun, but don’t you ever clean up? I don’t want my own dogs furring up my clothing, let alone yours.
3. Chances are, I’d like your pets more than I like you, too, if you’d just make a little effort and give them a chance to be likeable.
4. My pets are part of my family, too. I didn’t raise my children to be rude, to annoy other people, to growl menacingly when disturbed, to leap up on guests, steal food, or talk incessantly over other people’s conversations. Why on earth would I tolerate it from my pets?

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Cyradis August 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

K, what’s wrong with dog parks? When I went to college in America I noticed hardly anyone has fenced yards. Their dogs are cooped up most of the day. Dogs need exercise and dog parks are a sensible way of doing this.

My two doxie mixes are my children which is why it’s on me to raise them to be balanced adult dogs. I vacuum and dust everyday so hair on the furniture doesn’t become a problem. I have good manners and I want my pets to be well behaved. A welcoming bark and a quick sniff of inquiry is all right but frantic barking, jumping, pawing or aggression are certainly not.

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Elizabeth August 16, 2011 at 10:43 am

My pets are family members. However, they are restrained as needed so as to not offend or bother others. No one is invited into my home and made to feel uncomfortable – there is plenty of room for the cats or dog to be somewhere else during the visit. My husband’s aunt was horribly afraid of cats – no problem … cat can enjoy the afternoon snoozing in our bedroom – aunt does not have to explain or justify her feelings to me – she is my guest.

My peeve is people that BRING their pets to my house. I have 2 goats, 2 cats and 1 dog. I do not bring them to other people’s homes. Do not show up at my door with your dog; this is MY dog’s house and he doesn’t want company. Shall I bring my goat to your house for that cookout?

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Rachel August 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

My husband and I are both HUGE animal lovers, and we both grew up in very animal-friendly households. However, we both also learned that, just as we children were expected to behave, the same was expected of the animals. My parents have two very large dogs (two adult rottweilers, both around 90 pounds). These two dogs are friendly as can be, and love meeting new people. However, they are NOT allowed to jump on people, they are NOT allowed to bark at people, they are NOT allowed to charge new guests (who are always warned about the dogs before they arrive), they are NOT allowed in the kitchen during meals or food prep, and they are NOT allowed in the living room, where my parents do formal receiving. If guests want to interact with the dogs, everyone sits in the den, where the dogs’ beds and toys are, and everyone’s welcome to play with them. The dogs understand the rules, and two happier and more loved dogs you have never seen. My parents would also never DREAM of bringing the dogs anywhere uninvited.

By the same token, my husband and I have three cats and an assortment of lizards. The cats are shooed away from guests who don’t appreciate their company, and we do not take the lizards out of their vivariums unless guests are comfortable with them. The cats are a little more difficult to train than dogs are, but in general they get the point and go snooze in the bedroom. They also no better than to beg for food from dinner guests.

By the same token, though, these houses are the animals’ homes. If a guest torments the dogs, cats, or reptiles, they are out and generally not invited again. Our animals have a right to feel safe and comfortable in their homes, just as we do. Also by the same token, I expect anyone hosting me to have the same standards regarding their children. Unless it is a child or family-centric event, I expect any children there to be quiet, not hassle the guests, and overall not behave like howler monkeys on crack. Animals and children need the same things; structure, rules, and limitations, particularly around people who aren’t familiar with them.

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gramma dishes August 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

I don’t mind petting nicely behaved dogs or cats. And cats seem to love me. They will invariably come and plop themselves down in my lap and the owners will often express shock and say “She hates people. She always runs and hides when we have company. I can’t BELIEVE she’s sitting in your lap!!”

Now I love animals. Unfortunately I seem to be allergic to some (but not all) of them. I can’t guess in advance which ones will cause a reaction and which ones won’t.

One night we went out for dinner with three other couples. One of the couples invited everyone back to their house afterward. No one mentioned anything about pets. When we got there they had two dogs and three cats. I wheezed, coughed, blew my nose, had watery eyes. I’ve never ever had such a strong allergic reaction to animals in my life.

The thing is, I didn’t know they had animals. If someone had warned me ahead of time I could have simply and easily taken a pill beforehand and greatly reduced my symptoms which would have allowed me to be a much better guest.

I will probably love your animals, but please just tell me that you have them when you invite me to your house so I can come prepared to be a real participant and not have to excuse myself constantly to use an inhaler, blow my nose and frantically use up half a bottle of eye drops!

P.S. I realize that I’m partly responsible for what happened and yes, I learned my lesson. From that time on I’ve always carried pills with me in my purse so that I am better prepared. And/or I just ask ahead of time.

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toni August 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

I am going to politely disagree. I feel that any place my well behaved, tiny chihuahua is unwelcome so am I. Dobie is a trained therapy dog who loves everyone, can be trusted with anyone, is completely housetrained, and is usually welcomed anywhere. I don’t try to take him to some places (eating establishments etc.) but if I’m going to a friend’s house, it is a given that he will be there. If not, than I won’t be either. And he would never be put in another room if I have visitors. You know I have a dog. Deal or don’t.

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Raven August 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

I love animals, but do not love their hair all over my clothes, hands, etc. Just like people shouldn’t assume everyone wants to hold their toddler, people shouldn’t assume people want to snuggle with Rufus. I adore my 3 little guinea pigs, but when I have guests, I put them in a spare room and close the door – some people have allergies, some people are afraid of rodents, etc etc.

As for jumpy/licky dogs (not my cup of tea either) I always feel bad for poorly-trained animals; it’s not their fault that no one has taught them how to behave.

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Allie August 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

Actually, I’ve experienced sort of the opposite problem: we have extended family with an extremly large but loveable and well-behaved dog whom I’d love to spend more time with, but they always hide him away in the garage when we visit and if they do let him out they continually yell at him when he’s not really doing anything wrong. He’ll just be sitting there and everyone’s talking happily and he’ll twitch or breathe or something equally innocuous and suddenly they’re screaming at him over top you. It’s very irritating.

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Raven August 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

Oh and I’d like to second the comment about (North) Americans twisted view of pet ownership. A pet can be part of a family; a pet has a personality; a pet’s love can be unconditional and very fulfilling. However, it’s not HUMAN love. Your precious Fluffy doesn’t need to eat off a dinner plate, doesn’t need to be carried in a baby snuggly, (or carried at all – they have FOUR legs!!)… Fluffy is an animal, not a person. Don’t bring Fluffy to the shopping mall (unless Fluffy is a working animal, of course), the restaurants – and stop trying to bring Fluffy to my house. You know the answer is no, every time.

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Ginger G August 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

Wow, “K” I agreed with your post until your last paragraph. Calling people insane and sick because they love their pets, not to mention the infertility reference was just rude and unnecessary.

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Louise August 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

“My parents had our dogs and cats and birds out of sight when people visited. (Yes, I had many pets and I loved them all, a lot.) If someone wanted to see them the guest was taken to the pet. I have heard several people say how much they appreciated my parents’ consideration. Some people are actually seriously afraid of animals for real reasons. Some ladies prefer to not have their hose shredded or their dresses soiled. And what man has not been ambushed from behind by an inquisitive snout? Keep pets out until your guest asks to see them, please.”
— I disagree. We don’t let our dog jump on people or snuffle around and beg for food or attention, but we don’t put him out of sight and only bring him out if a guest asks to see him. Our house is our dog’s home, and while we’re home, he’s allowed to roam where he wants when he wants to. (When we’re not home, he’s locked up in a crate, which I think is pretty strong evidence we don’t put our dog on par with a child :)) We always warn people that we have a dog before we invite them over; that way they can decline if they have fears or allergies or concerns about dog hair. We understand and are not offended.

“Look, it’s a real shame that you’re infertile and could never have kids but strollers for pets, dog parks? These are symptoms of insanity. Ya’ll are sick.”
— I think strollers for pets are bizarre and I can’t imagine dogs enjoy being in them, but I love dog parks. My boyfriend and I take our dog to our local fenced-in dog park just about every morning. It’s a wonderful way for dogs to socialize. Our dog gets more exercise running off leash and playing with other dogs in half an hour than he does on an hourlong walk. He’s healthier physically and mentally for it. Plus, dog parks are good opportunities for people to socialize, too. We’ve become good friends with people we met at our dog park, people we never would have met otherwise. Most of us don’t dress up our dogs or put them in strollers, and we’re not all infertile and using our dogs as substitute children. Some of us even have kids (gasp!). Really, we just like to chat with one another while we watch our dogs run and play in safety. What’s insane or sick about that?

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Lizajane August 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

I’m so grateful someone finally said this, and said it so well.

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Nicole August 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

I have a cat that is currently shedding several pounds of fur a day. (OK, it only seems that way!) If I have invited someone over, I am manic about vaccuuming and brushing all of the furniture and the carpets. BUT… if you DROP IN on me, please don’t complain about the cat hair on your clothes. I am a neat person, I vaccuum almost every day, but I can’t help it if I wasn’t expecting you and you choose sit in the chair where my kitty napped earlier in the day.

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Ashley August 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

EVERY time I see that post on Facebook, I want to scream. I ADORE animals. But that still doesn’t mean I want your dog leaping all over me when I come to visit, trying to lick every bit of open skin it can find, and leaving my pants looking like I grew my own coat of fur.

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Katie August 16, 2011 at 11:13 am

I agree with the OP and Admin.

One nitpick with the last comment “…dog parks? These are symptoms of insanity.” I think dog parks are a great way to allow dog owners to interact with other dog owners without disturbing non-dog owners. I live near a beach with a recreation path and a boardwalk and I don’t want my dog bugging other people out for exercise (he doesn’t jump, but he’s curious and heads their way so I have to keep a short leash). The dog park gives me a place to work on his training without driving other humans crazy.

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Merrycat August 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

Ugh…. people like this give sensible pet owners a bad name. I love my cats. To me, they are part of my family. I call them my babies and refer to myself as their “mommy.” I make them special foods, am constantly buying them new toys and one of my cats even got pet guinea pigs to keep her entertained when I’m at work (they’re in a cage where she can watch but not hurt them.)

But I still expect my babies to have manners. When people come over they aren’t allowed scratch at pant legs (Sophie loves doing this against denim), or bother people who don’t like or are afraid of cats. I make a reasonable effort to keep cat hair off of things by vacuuming regularly. And, when people who are allergic come over, I do shut my cat up in our bedroom.

I guess that makes me some sort of horrible pet-hating jerk?

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Meegs August 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

To K
Regarding you last paragraph in particular, this is an ettiquette forum so that kind of talk is really not appropriate or appreciated.

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inNM August 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

I’ve always wondered about the people who leave the dog in the car while they go to the mall/supermarket/Walmart/Target/other shopping location.

I mean, what’s the logic. You can’t leave your pet at home but is it really better to leave them in the sweltering heat/freezing cold with a window cracked open while you cruise the aisles? Wouldn’t poochie/furball be more comfortable at home, which is more climate controlled, with food and water and newspaper or a litterbox?

As well, I should think driving with an unrestrained pet (dog or cat more specificially, but any crawling critter) should be a safety hazard, shouldn’t it?

When I had my bird, she stayed home… in fact, she enjoyed the few hours while we were at school or work to nap, so she could stay up late with us humans. Now I inherited a guinea pig, Ms. Piggy stays home.

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DGS August 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

“Now, I’m no great animal lover, but I’m definitely no animal hater, either. I do understand people’s love and affection for their pets, but the joy of being a host and having guests in your home is to make them feel comfortable and to enjoy their company – not to stand them in a corner so as not to bother your precious pets.”
Double, triple amen!!!

@K, re:
“Americans have some sick issues over pets. They are animals. They are not furry children. Look, it’s a real shame that you’re infertile and could never have kids but strollers for pets, dog parks? These are symptoms of insanity. Ya’ll are sick.”

Let’s not generalize about all Americans, shall we? Ridiculous behavior is not exclusive to any national, cultural, ethnic or religious group (if it were, this site would not exist). Oh, and let’s not make insulting, callous and rude sweeping generalizations regarding the relationship between fertility or lack thereof and treating pets like children. As someone who is no great pet lover but has struggled with infertility and infant loss and is now happily pregnant, I take enormous offense at folks who like to make callous insinuations about people who are infertile. A dog/cat/bird/snake, etc. would not replace my dead babies or the child that is now happily kicking in my womb. And unless you’ve lived through the hell that is fertility treatments and/or pregnancy loss, you cannot imagine what that experience is like for the person(s) going through it. And none of it has anything remotely to do with this post about folks who shamelessly dote upon Fluffy the Dog and Fifi the Cat but tend to treat humans poorly.

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TychaBrahe August 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

K, a dog park is to provide exercise and interaction for the human owners as well as for the dogs. It’s a service that a community provides for its taxpayers.

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AS August 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

I am a big pet lover. I have seen these messages but never thought much about them, maybe because I knew that the people who posted them were not the ones who didn’t care for their guests.
The OP has a very valid point. I love pets, but I hate badly behaved pets. I have known families who lock their pets in a room when they have guests, because not all guests would like pets. I don’t see why all pet owners can’t be as cognizant. Sometimes, small children are not allowed to adult parties either; I don’t see why pets have to be around all the time!

My worst experience with pets was when boyfriend and I tried to test-drive a car we were planning to buy. We took it to an unmetalled field to check for any noises. A man had his dog out for a walk without leash, and the dog attacked our car (Note – the man was not the owner of the fields, but they were research sites belonging to my dept. and we often drove there for work). When we told the man to move his dog, he kept telling us to start driving (we could have potentially injured the dog and probably faced charges from him!). We kept honking, and he finally got his dog off. We went and told the car dealer, and he said we should have taken the man’s contact information and contacted authorities. Anyways, the dealer was known to us, and he did touch-ups on the scratch marks the dog made.

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Elizabeth II August 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

Um, wow. For a moment I thought I was going to agree with that status, but it’s incredibly rude and unforgiving. I do think that pet hair on one’s clothes is not that big of a deal (though if you’re getting as much on you after sitting on the couch as you would holding a shedding cat in your lap, that’s a very bad sign), but telling people to stay off the furniture? Rude, rude, rude. Oh, and jumping dogs are painful, folks. Take it from the woman one inch over five feet tall: a large dog who jumps can easily knock a smaller guest off their feet. You risk injury to your guests (and your family) by not training them properly.

We Americans really do have some issues when it comes to pets. I admit, I avoided all human contact for two days after my cat died so no one would see me cry. I would tear up out of nowhere for two months after his passing, so perhaps I am a hypocrite for stating that lines must be drawn between acceptable treatment of people and acceptable treatment of pets. I think far too many of us see pets as surrogates for human family members, myself included (I got my little Alpheratz Rex right when my mother was really becoming awful, so he was my only source of unconditional love as far as I knew). It’s a very unhealthy way of living, both for humans who need human interaction, and for the pets who are indulged as children and being denied a standard of living that applies to their species.

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Pixie August 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

@K- You had me until that last little paragraph. That was a bit uncalled for.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson August 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

Oooooh, yes — the person OP quoted is insane. As in ‘mental health issues.’ I don’t agree that household pets should be out of sight entirely when guests come, but their hair should be vacuumed up and they should have been taught good manners. One expects a sociable crotch-sniff from a dog but just the one (it’s how they know who you are,) and no licking! And if I take steps to prevent your ill-mannered moose of a dog from jumping up on me, I don’t expect to be chastised.

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Abby August 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

I love my dog. But I have drilled it into his head that he is not to jump on people, bark like a lunatic, beg for food or lick people, unless they literally put their faces in his and ask for a “kiss.” The worst he does to our guests is lie on the floor with his head on their feet, and I wouldn’t be the least bit offended if they shooed him away. He is a dog, not a human, and I recognize the hierarchy.

And mine is not an older, mellowed-out dog either, he’s a young weimaraner and a great big ball of nerves at times. It takes some patience and discipline to train a pet correctly, but I guess posting an asinine status update on Facebook and excusing myself from the responsibility would have been a lot quicker.

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Micha August 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

I adore animals, but some pet owners just should not inflict themselves on the poor creatures. Animals need training and strict limits to learn animal manners towards people. People trump animals (except in cases of animal abuse, break ins, or new beaus).

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A August 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

I can handle a little animal hair or even a little jumping/barking (as long as it’s brief and I’m not being knocked to the ground). It’s when there are mass quantities of hair floating around the room or the cat box smells as if it has never been cleaned…anything along those lines…that’s when I start to think a person needs to reconsider being a pet-owner. :S

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wolfgirl August 16, 2011 at 11:49 am

ITA! My uncle met his wife late in life, kids not possible, so they have a dog who, they totally admit, is a replacement child. That’s cool, they are amazingly happy. But, uncle, I would not be impressed if your actual child was allowed to sit under the table at family meals slobbering on my toes and jumping up trying to steal my dinner from my plate whilst you look on with an indulgent “isn’t he a little pickle!” smile, so I’m not gonna be any happier with your dog doing it! I also totally love animals btw, just feel there should be a choice about interacting with them, and not at the dinner table!… :)

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ferretrick August 16, 2011 at 11:52 am

It works both ways. I used to have a weekly card game, and we took turns hosting. At the time I lived in a medium size apartment and I had ferrets, whom I loved very much. Before hosting I made sure the entire apartment, but especially the ferrets cage, litter pan, and bedding were cleaned. However, any ferret owner can tell you that ferrets do have some smell no matter what you do. The ferrets were kept caged while the guests were there and did not bother them in any way. My friends proceeded to make “jokes” all night long about the “smell.” My apartment did NOT smell. This went on for several months before I grew a spine and told them that their comments were rude, hurt my feelings, and that if they continued to come over and insult my home they would no longer be welcome as guests in it.

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Mjaye August 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

I am allergic to cats. To the point where I get an asthma attack and have to rush to the ER for treatment. My family knows this as it had happened at my Aunt’s house mroe than once. So, Aunt and her family move to Florida and my cousin invites us to her house for Thanksgiving. We all come down from PA and enjoy the parks.
Thanksgiving comes and I go in her house and see three cats. I told her I could not stay in this house due to cats and she goes ballistic and tells me to go sit outside on the park bench. I am joined by my sister, her husband and a neice who are also allergic. Where we are sitting, I can see the kitchen were two of the cats were on the counter eating the food out of pots and pans.
I told my cousin, who again, called me a liar. Except, all four of us saw this. I left with the four to go back to our hotel and ended up eating a hamburger from a vending machine for Thanksgiving dinner.
No wonder I do not care to talk to her anymore.

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James August 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

I have a huge soft spot for animals and I think the OP is spot-on, it’s part of our responsibility to the pets we love to teach them how to behave and not terrorise neighbours or visitors.

I once offended someone greatly by referring in a text message to their cat as “your cat”. Apparently “he’s not a cat, he’s a member of the family!”

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Calli Arcale August 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

K — actually, dog parks are wonderful things, because as long as they are fenced and maintained with dogs in mind (rather than people) and the dog owners pick up after their pets, it’s a great way to socialize the dog and train the dog how to behave properly. (Some cunningly-situated dog parks have an added bonus: crime goes down in adjacent properties for very little expenditure. MSP airport learned that when a runway expansion abruptly reduced the allowable uses for a chunk of land by their long-term parking lots. “Dog park” was an allowable use, and required very little modification of the property. Break-ins at the long-term lot plummeted.) Socialization of the dog and adequately exercising the dog are both crucial elements to having a well-behaved pet.

In my experience, the people who expect their guests to conform to their pet’s needs are also people who are not properly socializing their pet, and who are not themselves socializing with responsible pet owners in a setting where they can learn how to properly care for the animal. Dogs can be our little fur children, as long as we remember that that makes us their parents and responsible for their upbringing. You clean up after your children, and you don’t let them climb all over the guests (unless the guests initiate the roughhousing); dogs should be held to *at least* that standard.

One exception: you may sometimes deliberately invite guests who are comfortable with dogs and allow your dog the chance to jump on them. This would be for the purpose of training, to test whether the dog has learned not to jump up.

As far as the original Facebook post — I wonder what Victoria Stilwell (of “It’s Me or the Dog”) would have to say about that? She’s obviously a massive dog lover, and she’d have some very choice words for those people.

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Princess Buttercup August 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m a big time animal lover and my cat is my baby, if he wasn’t so afraid of everything I’d take him with me on long trips because I know he misses me terribly when I’m gone. However, I always tell people, would you set no rules and boundaries of your human kids? If that is the case then you should never be allowed to raise ANYTHING. If you would set rules for kids, why do you not set them for your furry babies? Don’t tell me they can’t understand, yeah some animals are very stupid but most can understand quite a bit.
I’ve actually had to ban pets visiting my house with some of my friends because they do anything they want and leave a trail of destruction behind them. On the other side I had a cat hater actually enjoy my cat visiting because she was so well behaved.
You do a great disservice to your pet or child and everyone they come in contact with if you overly baby them.

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Melissa August 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I’m mildly allergic to dogs and cats (not all dogs, but I never know for sure until I’ve spent some time with that individual dog). I also like cute, cuddly mammals and provided I will have the opportunity to wash my hands afterwards am usually happy to spend a few minutes petting a friend or neighbor’s pet. That being said, I hate going into homes where I have to worry about a poorly trained animal attacking me, even if it is affectionate.

I have noticed that the dogs that that appear the happiest to me are the ones that have strict owners and are highly trained and obedient. Based on conversations with people who work with animals the reason for this is that dogs are pack animals and they are happiest when they clearly understand their place in their “pack,” even if that place is at the bottom, and when they know how to please the higher ranking pack members and avoid punishment. The dogs that are usually considered spoiled don’t have clear rules and are frequently under a constant low level strain of stress because they don’t know what to do and the rules they live with frequently change as owners who are usually permissive will randomly (to the dog’s perspective) start keeping them away from something and then stop and then its something else and then not. Then the owners want them to be cuddly and think jumping is cute but those other people seem mad at them for it…

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Jayne August 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Agreed! Too many people are inconsiderate with their pets. My greatest peeve is people who let their dogs off leash – especially when there are signs stating all dogs must be on leash – and then let their dogs jump all over me. It’s not cute – it’s gross. My second peeve is with those same dog owners who never clean up after their dogs.

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Katy August 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one that can’t stand this Facebook post. One of my Facebook friends that re-posted it actually runs her photography business out of her home. I thought that was somewhat ironic but the times I’ve been there to get photos taken I’ve never heard or seen the dogs. At least she keeps her home (where her pets rule!) and her business separate.

We had a cat who hated other cats and wasn’t very fond of dogs either. One weekend a friend of ours was visiting and a friend of his stopped by to see him because she also lived in the same town. She brings her dog up to our apartment and attempts to bring it in the door. My husband and I said the dog couldn’t come in the apartment because of our cat. Her response was “Oh, but he’s really nice.” I’m sure the dog was nice but I didn’t want a fight in our apartment. Luckily our friend understood and they went outside to talk. Another time I was at a bbq with quite a few little kids and one couple brings their bulldog with them without asking the hostess first. Their response was the same “Oh he’s really nice.” Again, I’m sure their dog is really nice but I still wouldn’t chance the dog’s idea of
“play” with a group of little kids around. I just don’t get bringing a dog (or any pet for that matter) to someone’s house without asking first AND if the hostess says “no” not getting offended.

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Jojo August 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I have two cats and a dog. Our big ginger tom tends to be the talk of the neighbourhood, he’s been known to invite himself to parties on the other side of the street and join in with local political groups when they’re canvassing. So far he’s been seen as a source of entertainment rather than a nuisance – Thankfully!
It’s kind of a given in our home that the cats will invite themselves to sit on you if your visit lasts longer than an hour. We warn any visitors that we have pets and that they’re over friendly and make alternate arrangements to meet for those with allergies and phobias.
Our dog is quite cautious of people and we always put her in a quiet room if someone is uncomfortable with dogs or if it isn’t appropriate for her to be around ( health care visits, etc). This is our home and our routine and why should we alter feeding, walking and pet care for a visitor? It would just distress the animal.
Where we draw the line is in allowing our pets to misbehave ( not easy with the Ginger Tom!!!!).
My mother on the other hand, arrives with her aggressive puppy who she refuses to discipline – I have to take my pets out of harm’s way when she’s around. As the puppy is too young to leave for long, it travels with her at all times and I can just imagine the chaos that ensues! (She’s still living down the shame and guilt of one of her dogs killing the beloved rabbit of some family friends).
If you don’t like the way a host chooses to allow their pets to behave in their own home, you don’t have to visit. Making alternate arrangements to meet isn’t a hardship.
It’s the people who refuse to control their animals outside the home that are the real liability.

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elicat August 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

@K: What an interesting assumption, K, that all American pet owners treat their animals the same, or suffer from infertility. Have you interviewed all of the 63 percent of U.S. households that own pets? Yes, I have met or seen people who treat their animals appalling (either through overindulgence or neglect), but that’s no reason to paint us all with the same brush.

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Kat August 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm

As a counterpoint to this, I really hate it when people come over to my house KNOWING I have a dog and spend the whole time complaining about their allergies. I’d have been happy to do something out of the house with them! A guest did this recently and continued to moan until we ended up buying her allergy medicine. And yes, we were keeping the dog out of her way, but we couldn’t erase all traces of our pet from the house.

I agree with most of what’s been said here, but K – how is a dog park a sign of insanity? Isn’t it just a field for dogs to run around? And I wouldn’t go making assumptions about anyone’s fertility.

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Phitius August 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I’m a cat owner, and I simply do not understand this mentality. My cat is my pet, my furry little companion, NOT my child. I’ve always found the ‘fur-baby’ thing to be creepy and weird.

That said, I vacuum and dust my house twice a week. If I’m having company over I do it again in the hour or so before people are scheduled to arrive. I would be embarrassed to have someone sit down on my sofa and come up covered in cat hair.

My cat also isn’t a lap cat, so she never crawls up and sits on anyone. She likes to hang out on her pillow by the sliding door where she can catch some sun.

I got lucky in that respect.

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