Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Going to the Dogs

Here is an interesting read,... something I have noticed myself, the less people have children, the more they have dogs... I'm just glad Canada hasn't quite gotten to the stage some European countries are at because we'd be in serious trouble for "mis-treating" our poor dog, who doesn't get much attention, since we have four kids that do...


Lady, You Have One Ugly Kid!
By Eric Scheske

If you haven't heard, you haven't been listening: Europe is grossly under-birthed, and the United States isn't far behind. (Canada can't be far behind either, especially Québec.)

For a society to replace its population, demographers say each woman needs to average 2.1 children. Germany is at 1.3, Italy 1.2, Spain 1.1, and France 1.7. The rest of Europe might be a little better or a little worse (I don't have the stat in front of me, but I believe the Netherlands is at .9). Blue states in the US are slightly below 2.1, and red states are just a little above it, if memory serves.

So am I concerned about the lack of workers to pay for my social security? The collapsing infrastructure? Muslim immigration taking over traditional Christian countries?

Naw. Those are all legitimate concerns, of course.

But I'm worried about the dogs.

G.K. Chesterton said every person ought to have a dog. I disagree. I don't like dogs, don't want one, and resent being accosted by them on my walks.

Unfortunately, based on what I see around my city and in the news, people are having more and more of them. It seems like the fewer children we have, the more dogs I see. I've harbored this suspicion for years, but I've never run across any statistics or studies to show a direct correlation.

But last week, I found something better: Caesar. A reader at The Daily Eudemon sent this along:

Caesar, once seeing some wealthy strangers at Rome, carrying up and down with them in their arms and bosoms young puppy-dogs and monkeys, embracing and making much of them, took occasion not unnaturally to ask whether the women in their country were not used to bearing children; by that prince-like reprimand gravely reflecting upon persons who spend and lavish upon brute beasts that affection and kindness which nature has implanted in us to be bestowed on those of our own kind.

Ah, perfect! Not only are all the dogs understandable, but now I could also understand some crazy pet news I've seen lately:

• Seattle has more dogs than children.

• There are currently four bills pending in California alone that deal with dogs, from prohibiting pet cloning to criminalizing the clipping of a dog's ears for cosmetic reasons. (note: I am NOT for the clipping of dogs' ears myself, or of their tails or whatever else, if God/nature made them that way, there is surely a reason why, so leave them that way, poor things.)

• In London, it's reported that "Dog-lovers have taken 2.7 million working days off to care for their sick pets over the last two years.... Ten percent of owners missed five days of work, with half of these taking up to two weeks off to look after their pets. Dog owners are so concerned about their pooches’ well-being that 55 percent admitted they paid more attention to sick pets than an ill partner."

• Dog owners in Turin will be fined up to 500 euros ($650) if they don’t walk their pets at least three times a day, under a new law from the city’s council. People will also be banned from dyeing their pets’ fur or “any form of animal mutilation” for merely aesthetic motives. (Now this is where we'd be fined horribly,... we would definitely NOT have a dog in Turin, we don't even walk our dog ONCE day!! However I agree for the pet mutilation, that's just cruelty, and ridiculous.)

Contrary to the childless cultures of the West, the Church teaches that couples should have children. From the Catechism: "Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful" (2366). "Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life..." (2367). "Sacred Scripture and the Church's traditional practice see in large families a sign of God's blessing..." (2373). (Have talked to a number of people, especially women, who secretly would like more children and who actually think there is something WRONG with them for wishing so,... not to mention those who decided to get tied, snipped or whatever and then have little regrets now and then although they don't seriously want more. The natural inclination IS still there though...)

Whenever we look at the Church's teaching, especially when it comes to morals, we need to understand that the teaching is always consistent with man's nature. F.J. Sheed in Theology and Sanity wrote, "Religion is a relation of man to God, and a true religion must be true to both. God will treat man as man is, and man will react to God's act as man is." The "supernatural does not ignore the natural or substitute something else for it."

When it comes to children, fecundity is natural. People are "hard-wired" to have children, and often lots of them, and the Church's teaching reflects this natural trait.

But when something natural is suppressed, something odd erupts to take its place. In today's world where the natural inclination to have children has been suppressed, I believe an unnatural affection for pets has erupted. (As a child, I was a die-hard dog/cat/animal lover. I didn't think that would change. I enjoy animals however, since taking in a dog last year, I have discovered that I no longer get very attached to animals. I don't think I'd miss him much if he died, and I'm not too sure we'd get another one. However, my children, at least the younger ones, love to play with the dog. I think that for children, pets are nice to have. For older, lonely people like my mother-in-law, a small dog is nice to have. Our neighbours couldn't have kids and they have our dog's sister, and I have to say she probably gets a lot more love and attention than our poor Toby. I have nothing against dogs myself, however when one is practically obliged by law to treat them like human children, that is just a little exagerated.)

And as a result, the Western world is going to the dogs.

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