Are Americans too attached to their pets?

by MooshiMooshi
This article, which is from the National Review, presents the idea that we have become too close to our pets and that this is getting in the way of forming real relationships.
I think in some cases, there could be some truth in that. But sometimes people become obsessed with pets because they fill a gap. I know someone who wanted kids, but her husband did not, so now that they are older she fills in by doting on her cats and dogs. She posts endless photos on social media just as we do with our kids, and she even paints portraits of them. I think it helps her, though.  I see many other parents bringing dogs and cats into their lives as their children migrate off to college and jobs. On the other hand, a friend of mine from college collects cats. He has never managed to have a longterm relationship, and I think the 6 or more cats at any time in his apartment are one of the barriers.
In this era of floof and blep and emotional support peacocks, have we gone too far in adoration of our animals?

79 thoughts on “Are Americans too attached to their pets?

  1. I don’t know. Maybe. My beloved dog recently died and I have been very upset by it. He wasn’t filling any sort of void, but I had him for a long time (longer than I have had a husband or kids).

  2. I am not a pet person myself – when it comes to animals I am indifferent at most and legitimately scared of big dogs. I do sometimes think that things have gone a bit far – e.g., sending Mother’s day cards to “dog moms” makes me roll my eyes a little. I am extremely irritated at the explosion of dogs on planes and phoney “support animals” in stores/restaurants, etc.

    BUT I would never want to take away from the companionship and purpose that people find in being pet owners, especially people who are lonely. If pets fill a gap, I think that is mostly a good thing, not a bad thing. I’m not sure that taking someone’s cats away is going to magically make them ready for a long-term relationship, and if it provides comfort and the animals are treated well, who am I to judge?

  3. I don’t have an opinion on this one.

    We do not have pets, and I don’t think we have really never been directly affected by people canceling or avoiding doing stuff with us because of them having a pet they need to take care of.

    I like dogs, DW is a cat person. We’ve never really tried to bridge that difference, and, honestly, neither one of us wanted one more being to take care of every day when the kids were young. Once the kids got old enough to do everything for a pet they were not as interested in getting one. And now, I’m back to not wanting one more thing in my life. I do not feel less fulfilled for it, though I know plenty of people who just always want to have e.g. a dog around so when one dies, they get another pretty soon.

  4. Scarlett – the term you are looking for is “emotional support”. And yes, they should. The bigger problem is the “service” dogs that provide no service, in my grocery store, ER, etc. Employees are (rightfully) afraid of ADA complaints and don’t challenge anyone with a dig wearing a vest.

    I have seen truly discriminatory care in the ED the only time the OCR got involved was due to an allegation that we discriminated because of her “service” dog.

  5. I was at a local Starbucks last year and noticed a woman at the next table who was wearing a small dog in a baby sling. (At first, I thought it WAS a baby.) She was putting bits of pastry on the table, and the dog was excitedly licking the table clean. After they left, I spoke to the staff to make sure that someone cleaned off the table before anyone else sat down. Also inquired about the rules regarding pets. The barista was extremely apologetic and as the shop was brand new, they evidently hadn’t yet trained the staff on this issue. Maybe it’s like the new restroom policy, and all forms of animal life are welcome. No purchase necessary and you can even take the dog to the restroom with you!

  6. “noticed a woman at the next table who was wearing a small dog in a baby sling. (At first, I thought it WAS a baby.”

    Someone was pushing a small stroller down our street last week while I was outside. I peeked in the stroller expecting a baby and out popped a little dog face that yapped at me. It made me laugh. At least they were outside and not in a store with food. But what is the point of taking your dog on a walk in a stroller?

  7. My DD is very interested in getting a dog when she is on her own. I pointed out that as a young person on her own she would be out of the house for long periods- so would need a dog walker, have to pay vet bills, board the dog if out of town etc. I took care of the pets that my family acquired and I felt all of responsibility. I didn’t want to be the backup caretaker for my kids pets.

  8. I foster rescue dogs. I wish people were more attached to their pets. I’ve seen too much nastiness. I’m about to get a new dog today.

  9. Louise: How about having your DD walk or pet sit dogs or cats for neighbors? She can get all the dog cuddles she wants without you actually owning a pet. She will actually earn some money, too!

  10. BUT I would never want to take away from the companionship and purpose that people find in being pet owners, especially people who are lonely. If pets fill a gap, I think that is mostly a good thing, not a bad thing. I’m not sure that taking someone’s cats away is going to magically make them ready for a long-term relationship, and if it provides comfort and the animals are treated well, who am I to judge?

    I agree. I love animals and have always had pets, but they are pets, not children. I would never even think of bringing them to the store or a restaurant, other people’s homes, traveling with them, etc.

    Pets are wonderful. The effect they have in nursing homes and assisted livings where I see patients is remarkable. But they are still pets.

  11. We have a cat (whose birthday was yesterday), acquired a few years ago. He is an inelegant oaf of a kitty, but he got rid of all our mice, keeps the critters away from the garden, and the kids totally adore him. When my oldest discovered that the college where he is heading has a process for applying to keep emotional support animals in the dorms, he started threatening to apply for it so he could steal away the cat. I am a little concerned, though, about the emotional support animal thing because my kid has a serious dog allergy (not cats interestingly).

  12. “I peeked in the stroller expecting a baby and out popped a little dog face that yapped at me. ”

    I used to see that when I lived in Manhattan. Also dogs in slings and other carriers. And in the seat of shopping carts in the supermarkets. They were always one of those fluffy little dog breeds. I used to call them the legless dogs because I could never see their legs under the floof and they never seemed to walk. The owner was usually a little old lady.

  13. We don’t have pets, and I have never really been an animal person myself, but the older I get, the more I think I understand people who are very attached to their pets. I used to think the attachment that many people had was over-the-top, but now I think it’s really sweet. Animals really are amazing, and I think there really can be a very strong emotional bond between people and pets. Seeing that bond is really does warm my aging heart. Who knows, I might end up being a pet owner someday.

    That said, as much as I love and appreciate most of my fellow human beings, I hate, hate, hate people who don’t pick up after their dogs. If government is going to have a zero-tolerance policy for anything, I think it should be for people who leave dog poop on the sidewalk.

  14. Growing up had cats and dogs (no more than 2 pets at any time). As a young adult, I had dogs. SO is a cat person, when my last dog died, we stuck with cats. The breed we favor must have a companion if you are not home most of the day, most days of the week. With a variety of issues over the past few years, including taking my mom’s cat when she passed, we have 5 in the house. They are clustered (2 + mom’s cat are in the 9-12 range; the other 2 are in the 2-4 range) and this works out as they are at the same level of playfulness.

    The only thing we have ever cancelled due to a pet issue, was when we had to take one to the emergency vet on a Saturday evening right before an event.

    I think the type of pet and the connection you have to that pet makes a difference. One cat we have doesn’t like women in general and only tolerates DD#2. I don’t interact with him much and likely wouldn’t go to “heroic” efforts medically for him. The cat that is “mine” follows me around like a dog, and interrupts me several times a day to be petted. While I am still not one to pay thousands on a pet, I would go further for her.

  15. I was pretty sad when my first cat died. It was right before DD arrived in our family, so she never got to overlap with that cat. My oldest two remember, though. My cat had been through so many phases of my life with me – being single in Manhattan, the rental house in rural MA, apartments in Westchester and finally our own house. That kitty dutifully made all the moves with us, though she was famous for the fact that she couldn’t travel in a car more than a mile without puking. She was the opposite of our current cat – little, intensely affectionate, terrified of rodents…

  16. We were close friends with one of DH’s relatives for many years and used to do lots of social things with them. But then they acquired a dog. Once they had that dog, they could never come our way because they couldn’t leave the dog alone for more than two hours. Worse yet, my kid then developed his dog allergy and would start wheezing if he was anywhere near it. so we lost touch with them.

  17. Houston – she does go dog walking with various neighborhood kids and their pets. I will suggest pet sitting to her.

    At the apartment complex where my parents stay there quite a few single people, both older and younger and their pets. My parents know the names of the dogs but not necessarily their owners. They will say things like “We saw Louie and his owner” today.

  18. “But what is the point of taking your dog on a walk in a stroller?”

    My mom just bought one of these strollers (at a yard sale) for our new puppy (not yet obtained) without asking first. Good grief. I politely informed her we did not need it so she’s selling it in garage sale. Unless your pet is injured I do not see the purpose of these strollers.

  19. Pets, at least dogs and cats anyway, have so much variation in their personalities. I find that fascinating. I definitely can get attached, though I have never had pet insurance. Our cat goes outside. He is so cautious though that he rarely leaves our yard. He has a tag and is microchipped too.

  20. DD – Yes, I was able to take my mom’s cat to visit her in skilled nursing, the hospital, and hospice. However, before this she was never taken anywhere but the vet and it was very hard at first to get her to the point that she could be easily transported. I think socializing animals (more dogs than cats) helps not only in your home, but if you are trying to take them into other situations.

    That said, I don’t think they should go with you every where, all the time unless they are an actual service dog. I am not convinced that the therapy animal has been well enough defined to allow people who really need something vs those who just want to take the pet along.

  21. I thought some owners used those strollers because their dogs may not have the stamina for longer walks.

  22. Not too long ago, a lady brought her little dog to the grocery store in a tote bag. The staff politely told the lady that she couldn’t bring the dog in. No fuss, she left to leave the dog in the car.

  23. We have a small 14 lb dog that is loved by everyone in our extended family. My mother calls him her granddog. My MIL takes care of him for weekends and vacation periods, and we pay a dog walker to take him out when he’s with her. Before she became too infirm, it was really good for the dog to stay with her because it forced her to get out of her condo 3-4 times a day. She met other residents, socialized and got some light exercise. We also brought him to visit with her when she was in rehab. The last time we were at the rehab facility, there was friendly golden retriever just wandering in and out of the patient rooms. No one could figure out who he belonged to.

    When we were first married we had a big black lab. I always thought it was good practice for having kids.

  24. I’m pet-free at the moment. DH doesn’t like pets. This is a thing you should talk about in premarital counseling. If we really start traveling after he retires, then there’s no point to having pets. I’d just have massive guilt over leaving them. OTOH, if we really start splitting time between Denver and California, then it would make sense to drive out and then we could bring pets. But I’m still grinding away at him to get him to consider moving here, either permanently or semi-permanently.

    And man, it’s so hard when they get old and die. Both kitties and the dog developed long-term illnesses that required constant treatment and it was such a pain. And then you never really know if you should have euthanized them earlier; maybe their quality of life was really bad. It casts a real pall over the whole pet-owning experience.

  25. Houston – I cannot see the kids wearing that sling with the dog.

    When did dogs stop being able to walk by themselves?

  26. Rob has carried Bucky around in a front carrier for as long as I can remember…

  27. We just acquired cat #2 (cat #1 came 7 months ago). Still skittish but we are hoping he will settle down and play with #1. They are both young (between 1 and 2) so should be good friends. :)

  28. I hope this isn’t too early for a hijack. DH finally admits that a minivan would be nice to have, so now I’m trying to research options and am not sure what to buy – probably between an Odyssey or Sienna. I have never been a big car person but now the kids are getting older and we need to carpool more and haul lots of sports equipment. One of the things most important to me is a quiet cabin. My car is very noisy at highway speeds. The other thing I can’t decide if I need is AWD or if I’m fine with getting better tires. I’ve been researching for awhile, and I can’t make a decision.

    Any recommendations? What model? What trim level? Used or new? AWD or FWD? Anything else I’m not thinking of?

  29. We had an Odyssey BITD and are now on our second Sienna (2017 model). Because we live in the lake effect snowbelt I wanted AWD and Sienna was and perhaps still is the only minivan with that option. And for some reason the redesigned Odyssey looks to me like a hearse, so there was that factor as well.
    The 2017 Sienna is noticeably quieter than the 2013 model that we sold to DS1. He looked for a used model but quickly learned that, at least in small-city Midwest, used minivans are VERY used and not really suitable as a primary family vehicle that will be driven for years. Your experience may be different in your neck of the woods.
    Be advised that Toyota is overdue for a major revamp of the Sienna, car people say, so that may affect your decision.
    Good luck!

  30. We have a Sienna and like it. I find it a tad big – I really loved our old Mazda minivan which was just a little smaller but still big enough. But they don’t make it any more. We chose a Sienna because the Odyssey is uglier.

  31. Just looking this up quickly, it’s confusing to me that the 2018 Sienna is supposed to be redesigned (or more like refreshed), but it’s expected in dealerships this Fall. It’s June 2018 right now, right? Are they only selling 2017 models? I once bought a 2004 model in April of ’03, and a ’12 in October of 2011.

    The Odyssey was redesigned a year or two ago.

    We’ve been happy with the last generation Odyssey, now with about 120k miles on the odometer. It’s still our newest car. I think the Sienna might be a little bit quieter, but I found out that keeping Michelin tires on it is a major factor in that battle.

    AWD is only available on the Sienna, but that will cost you some fuel mileage, and may contribute to noise levels. When you say “getting better tires,” are you talking about maintaining a separate set of snow tires in the winter?

  32. tcmama,

    But keep in mind the Odyssey Elite has active noise canceling* so if you don’t get the top of the line model it’s going to be a lot louder.

    * works on the sample principle as Bose noise canceling headphones. The cars stereo plays a sound that is 180 degrees out of phase with the road and wind noise and when the waves meet they cancel each other out.

  33. About a year ago traded in my 2 yr old Odyssey for a Pilot. The Odyssey is bigger, but EVERY. SINGLE. THING fell between the console and the seat. Even with my small hands is was a pain to get things out. There were a couple other annoying things compared to my much older Odyssey model. One of them was the height off the ground. I was always scraping my front under bumper on those concrete parking stops. I looked at Sienna’s too, but liked the Odyssey better.

    Not sure of the age of kids of the mound of stuff you need to carry, but I LOVE my Pilot. The seatbelt actually hits at the right place on my shoulder. My only complaint is the way it connects to the Apple Car Play. Getting it to use my phone for GPS, but play the radio is a bit of a PITA. I’ve narrowed it down to you must do things in a certain order for it to be mostly happy. Plus, I prefer my google maps to apple maps and it gets a cranky about that sometimes too.

  34. I am thinking of getting another MDX or a Pilot when our current MDX dies. I think it is getting louder on the highways now – is that a tire issue or is it because the car is 10 years old and creaky?

  35. Is it creaking over bumps, or do you believe it’s a generally elevated din of road noise? Did you use a different brand of tires, or a different style? Even quiet tires probably get louder as they age.

  36. For minivans compare the features at various price points. Chrysler had the stow and go feature which I didn’t value at all because I don’t haul stuff just people. With older kids are no requirement for in car entertainment system, I went for a cheaper model. Also, see how comfortable you are with the console and electronic gear shifting in various makes.
    My old car was so basic, that I am thrilled with my new car.

  37. or is it because the car is 10 years old and creaky?

    How many miles are on it? It could be worn suspension bushings.

  38. TCM, if you’re going to be doing a lot of carpool driving, give strong consideration to the middle second row seat, giving you 8 person seating capacity.

    It may not be good for a road trip, but being able to take one more kid the 15 minutes to practice often will mean another parent doesn’t need to drive, and those occurrences could mean fewer times you have to drive, or sometimes that other parent could be you our your DH.

  39. “I have never been a big car person”

    My experience has been that Toyotas have smaller turning radii than Hondas and thus drive less like big cars. This is something to check when you test drive.

  40. AustinMom, I have an ’08 Pilot and find that everything falls between the seat and console. Has that design flaw been fixed? I can look down and see a very old Swedish Fish and a quarter, they have been there for years.

    On topic: at a soccer game two weekends ago a dog who had been sitting quietly with it’s owner lunged and took a hunk out of the sideline ref’s leg. The ref was maybe 18 years old, and when he fell screaming he (understandably) shouted the F word. He took off limping toward the parking lot. When the center ref asked where he was going he responded “to the hospital, that Fing dog bit me and I have a Fing hole in my leg!” He truly had a hole in his leg, it looked as though he had been impaled with a spear, it was a severe bite. The dog was a pit bull mix, large and strong.

    The chatter on the sidelines was disheartening. The level of concern for the poor dog and how scared he must have been was ridiculous. When I pointed out that the young man had just incurred a severe injury, I was met with comments about his potty mouth. I am not joking. These are 8th grade girls, they have heard the F word before. There was NO concern for this ref, just dismay that he swore. I had to move away to the end of the sideline. It bothered me that day and still bothers me. This one will never be ok with me and I have changed my approach to certain parents for putting the concern of a dog over the concern of that ref.

    Are we too attached to our pets? Some of us are.

  41. +1 on Finn’s comment about the middle row. That is why we went with the Pilot 10 years ago rather than a van.

  42. Swim — That dog story is awful. I haven’t seen a dog bite someone, but there have been several times when either one of my kids or I have been charged by a dog, and have yelled to the owner to call the dog back; only to have the dog owner inform us that “he’s just being friendly!” Like I should be happy that a strange dog is running at my kid or me at full speed and jumping on us, nipping on us, etc. I do think that some dog owners just really don’t get that everyone else isn’t as in love with their animal as they are.

    Despite the fact that I am a lawyer, I am not litigious at all; however, I hope that that the guy who was attacked sues the dog owners. Why anyone would bring a pit bull (or even a pit bull mix) to an event full of children is beyond me.

  43. The National Review article was using pet ownership by young people to beat the usual drum about the ills of this nation being due to the fact that insufficient numbers of the “right sort” of young adults are marrying, having the right sort of kids, living the right sort of community based suburban or small town lives.

    Tiny dogs can’t walk very far, so if you want to take them to the park to do their business, you have to carry them or put them in a stroller/pack. Our cats are a joyful part of our lives. Probably the only negative would be if in 10 years time we wanted to take a very long cruise during the winter. So we would have to find a housesitter.

    Don’t get me started on owners of ill trained or excitable dogs. A dog is presumed to be in right even if he goes after a child, much less an adult.

  44. Pit bulls are usually very family friendly. Most dog bites happen with small dogs. In fact I had to reject fostering the dog I was going to take because he lunged at the rescue volunteer and kept growling and showing his teeth at me. This was a 15 pound terrier mix.

  45. Swim – I am surprised that dogs were allowed on the sidelines. The league my kid belongs to sends repeated emails during the season that dogs are not allowed at the soccer fields. People do bring their dogs sometimes and have them on leash away from the spectators but they know very well that they are breaking the rules.
    The league rents the fields from the schools/city, so they keep emphasizing the rules. I think it’s more the issue that people don’t clean up after their dogs.

  46. Swim – The ref should definitely file a report. if there is more than one incident the dog might have to be put down. Poor kid.

  47. The dog owner is a responsible man, he did the right thing and drove the ref to the emergency room immediately. He is also smart enough to know that this was a claim against his homeowners insurance in the making and he was doing damage control. The ref thought he was going to drive himself but people convinced him that he was in shock and should not drive. That left the dog at the field with another parent who got stuck holding the leash until the owner returned. I don’t know what happened after that regarding the dog and quarantine rules.

    I was so disappointed in the lack of concern for the injured young man who was literally DOING HIS JOB and not tormenting a dog when he was bit. I think the problem may have been that there was a “caring competition” going on between the parents (and by parents I mean the moms) as to who could be more concerned about the poor upset dog, and gosh I hope the girls didn’t hear that terrible language, and gee that poor dog must be so scared and goodness what did that ref do to make that dog bite, etc.. Despite the caring competition, I think they truly believed in their hearts that the dog’s mental state that day was more important than the ref’s ability to use his leg in the future.

    I cannot understand the value system that puts priorities in that order.

  48. “The league rents the fields from the schools/city, so they keep emphasizing the rules. I think it’s more the issue that people don’t clean up after their dogs.”

    Louise — Our local elementary school had to ban parents from bringing dogs to pick-up and drop-off, because so many parents were letting their dogs poop on school property, and then not cleaning up after them. I can excuse a lot of things, but not cleaning up after your dog is not one of them. So disgusting!

  49. “because so many parents were letting their dogs poop on school property, and then not cleaning up after them. I can excuse a lot of things, but not cleaning up after your dog is not one of them. So disgusting!”

    Poop is not the only problem. Their pee can kill plants, and commonly causes spots of dead grass.

  50. “The dog owner is a responsible man”

    Allowing his dog to bite the ref suggests otherwise.

  51. A friend of DH’s is eight weeks into dealing with a huge hematoma from a dog bite to his thigh from a neighborhood dog. And the dog has been allowed off leash in the neighborhood since. Now that the lawyers are involved it is not going to end well. Dogs being off leash, owner’s not picking up waste and excessive barking are frequent topics on our town list serve, Facebook page and Next Door. The problem is some of the owners and they have no clue how they are ruining it for others. Their arrogance in putting their “dogs” above people is astounding.

    We just got a rescue dog from a program and one of the first things we were told in the going home class was not to humanize the dog. Many of the discipline issues will stem from not establishing that you are the alpha and are in control of the dog. He has settled in well and we are so happy to have him but that does not mean that I’m going to let him run off leash, not pick up his waste and allow him to be aggressive to neighbors. But being out every day for walks, I’m amazed at the number of owners we run into who don’t follow the same rules and look stunned when you point them out.

  52. “Their arrogance in putting their “dogs” above people is astounding.”

    Not necessarily.

    I would guess that those same dog owners also put themselves above other people.

  53. Our school district also had a problem with getting parents to stop bringing dogs to school pick up. The poop was the main reason. This problem has disappeared in the last month because coyotes continue to menace people walking dogs near out middle and elementary schools. The coyote problem is not ideal, but it has put a stop to the dog problem. Our town police have frequent meetings and bring in experts to teach people how to safely walk their dogs because the coyotes have now attacked several dogs. They suggest air horns and other loud objects. I see men that look like line backers carrying bats and gold clubs when they walk their tiny dogs.

    My brother was bit my a dog last year. He was talking to his neighbor outside and the neighbor’s dog bit his leg. They are friends and my brother didn’t want to report it. He did need stitches, and the doctor insisted that he had to call the police and file a report. I am not sure if this wa a county or state requirement.

  54. Our cats are a joyful part of our lives. Probably the only negative would be if in 10 years time we wanted to take a very long cruise during the winter. So we would have to find a housesitter.

    IMO, one of the benefits of cats over dogs is when you go away, you don’t need a house sitter or find a place for it to stay. You just need someone to come every day or two to check on it.

  55. DD, that is what we do when we go on vacation. The teen across the street comes in each day and feeds the cat and does the litter box.

  56. When I was in college, no pets were allowed. But one of the girls in our suite brought her black rabbit. It mostly stayed in her room out of sight but sometimes it got out into the common area. At first we were startled because it would hop out from behind the couch but then got used to it. Everyone kept very quiet about the rabbit being there.

  57. We weren’t supposed to have pets in the dorms either. But i knew one guy with a snake and a girl who had a ferrett. The guy with the snake used to feed it live mice, and lots of kids would stop by to watch.

  58. Swim – I have lost a couple of things in the space, but not to the degree I did in the minivan. The space is small enough to keep my wallet and phone out of the void, the minivan wasn’t. And, the few things that have gone down in the Pilot made it all the way under the seat to be more easily retrieved.

    Cats – our cats are so used to people being around, that while they can go a long weekend, I wouldn’t leave them a full week without people spending time in the house. They just want the company. We have a house/pet sitter that will stay overnight in the house. Her rates for our 5 cats (and feeding the neighborhood cat) is less than boarding two of the cats.

  59. Yesterday the passenger in my car placed his phone, presumably with Bluetooth activated, on the front center console. A message came up momentarily on the dashboard screen with something about uploading or pairing phone information, but I pushed another button to change the screen before I had a chance to read the whole message. Now I wonder how easy it would be to accidentally get someone else’s phone information loaded into my car.

  60. Kerri — have you selected your dog yet?

    These two cuties are on Nextdoor looking for a good home, but they need to be kept together because they are “best friends”. The owner has to find a new home because her building only allows one pet per household. What a heartbreak for her.

  61. July – those are adorable but we can’t have two (DH would never agree) AND we have picked out a pup. It’s a cavoodle – Cavalier King Charles spaniel/ poodle mix. We pick him up in early July. The kids are very excited.

  62. Well, I am hypothetically talking about a winter-long cruise, being away for months not weeks, with cat(s) who at that time would be elderly, 15 years old. For that length of time and to make sure there is no extended power/heat issue, a housesitter would be required. With no cats, I would just drain the pipes, shut the house up like the snowbirds do, and have the mail forwarded to a family member.

  63. Though it is deplorable that some people don’t clean up after their pets, BITD most people didn’t make much of an effort at all to do so. Piles of droppings were a common sight on sidewalks that one would have to steer little children around. There were no boxes with doggie bags provided in public parks and no signs requiring or even requesting cleanup. I don’t remember many neighbors walking around after their dogs holding little bags either. It was common in our neighborhood for dogs to roam outside without leashes, and we kids on our bikes knew which houses we had to speed past lest the dog charge after us. And my brothers had constant issues with dogs on their paper route. I think that expectations regarding pet behavior are higher so that the failures to adhere to them are more obvious now.

  64. Ancestry update: I got a note back from a guy with a family tree. His grandmother and her sister come up as first/second cousins to me. He doesn’t think any of her brothers are likely suspects, but she had lots of cousins. He will put me in touch with her. Just have to find out who moved to Chicago.

  65. TCM – As a new owner of the Pacifica I would suggest looking at this car if you also think you’ll be hauling furniture or wood, or anything else in addition to just people. We recently used the stow n’ go feature when bringing home some boxes from Ikea. Last weekend we used the storage compartments of the stow n’ go to hold the kids camping toys (squirt guns, kickball, etc). It also a very quite ride. Much quieter than the prior van we had. I wouldn’t get hung up on the AWD feature. In 6 winters here with a minivan we have never gotten stuck or had issues with the snow, including winter trips to Lutsen. The weight of the minivan is significant enough to handle most winter conditions. That being said, I don’t know any Odysessy or Sienna owner that regrets their purchase. Just keep in mind that the minivan is the sweatpants of cars. It is comfy, but yes, it looks like a minivan. The valet is not putting your van out in front next to the Maserati.

  66. That’s good news Meme. I find your search so interesting. My dad, who was adopted in the 1930’s, began to check for the first time in his life when he was 80, and all he learned is that the origin/adoption story he was told was not possible. He died before 23andme became mainstream, but I’ve often wondered if he would pursue it. Tying this very tangentially to the post, his adoption papers from the 30s suggest the process was rather less complicated and invasive than adopting our cat from the Humane Society.

    Swim, what a depressing story.

  67. Mémé, will your DD no longer be living in your place by the time you take that cruise?

  68. I’m thinking those kids that flouted the no pets rules were precursors to the people nowadays who bring their pets into inappropriate places and abuse the support/service animal rules.

  69. I’ve had pets most of my life, though I don’t right now. I loved my pets. I miss them very much. I had lots of fun playing with them and taking my dog for walks, and they’re nice to sit with and pet. That being said, I, a huge liberal who rarely agrees with anything in the National Review, agreed with everything this article said. The obsession with pets has gotten completely out of hand. Many Americans treat their pets better than they treat other humans. Lots of people spend large sums of money on things for their pets. They talk about them nonstop. They freak out about leaving them when they leave town. I had a roommate once who would come home on her lunch break to spend time with her cats because she missed them when she was at school. I wonder what would upset some of these people more: the death of a family member or the death of their pet? Actually, I think I know the answer to that question. I do get why people are so attached, to an extent. We live in a time where families are scattered all over the place and friendships are often more circumstance based than anything and end once the common ground is gone. But animals are not people. They are not capable of human thoughts, conversations, and actions.

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