A family I know is having a disagreement that’s worth talking about. The little girl in the house badly wants a kitty, even though she’s never really met a cat and the parents are not sure she’s quite mature enough to really know how to deal with one. The boy, who’s a few years older, is determined that this will be his year of a dog. A big dog…or maybe a wookiee. Mom would like either or both. Dad, however, was raised in a house without pets. His mom thought furry animals were unclean things that should be kept in barns and far, far from any house and he never got close to any other pet to ever disagree with her. Dad’s thinking is more along the line of fish tank aquariums.
Try as Mom and the kids might, they cannot persuade dad that, as pretty and interesting as fish are, they are not the same as a pet that you can actually touch and bond with. Dad counters that if the family needs more love, they should get it from each other. The boy says he’s not about to let his sister pet him like a kitty for hours on end and his sister reminds him that she has no desire to do so. She also remarks that she wouldn’t let him wrestle playfully the way he might with the giant sized canine of his dreams. Meanwhile, Dad just keeps looking through online catalogs for the latest saltwater aquariums.
The whole thing got me thinking about how human beings are pretty much the only species we know of to keep pets. Seems to me that when we humans lost our fur and the grooming behaviors you learn about in zoology and anthropology classes, we lost something forever. Even the most demonstrative and affectionate family doesn’t seem to quite fulfill our need for tactile affection, and so humanity befriended the feline and the canine. Freshwater aquariums can be beautiful, fascinating, and highly educational, but until they the day they grow fur and purr, they’re more like paintings than pets.