To the Dogs?

As a kid, I was prejudiced against dogs.  It all started with my Mother who loved children.  One of my uncles married  an older woman who came with a dog, but no kids.  We kids loved to have them visit because at Christmas time, this couple brought us the best presents.  Every year, after my uncle and aunt left with their dog, my Mother would say something like.  “A dog instead of kids.  What a waste.”  At the time, I wasn’t sure what was wasted; but in time, I realized what my Mother meant.  To Mother’s way of thinking, spending time, money and affection on a dog that might have been spent on a child was a waste.  As a result, neither my Mother nor I acknowledged, petted or played with a dog for years. Little by little Mother and I came to appreciate “man’s best friend” as one of God’s friendly, sometimes useful, always loyal creatures.  In the back of my mind, however, I resent the affection that people have for dogs in preference to children.

Many years ago, just hired as a teacher of Gifted and Talented ten year olds, my supervisor told me that human nature, being what it was, if people were  given a choice between doing the harder thing or the easier thing, they would chose the easier.  That maxim stuck in my head as I prepared lessons for my gifted students.

Therefore, having lived through the prosperity of post WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s lib, birth control pills, the sexual revolution, the demise of communism, the rise of capitalism, (especially in Asia), the legalization of abortion, the welfare state, the decline of religion, etc., it comes as no surprise that in the US and in many Western European countries, more households have dogs instead of children.  Sociologists make all kinds of speculations on why this is so.  I believe that the time is right for the reason put forth by Toro Suzuki, ” Under the social and economic system of developed countries, the cost of a child outweighs the child’s usefulness.” 

The “Material Girl” is the prophetess of our age.  Short-sighted as it is, having a dog is easier than having a child.

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