Monthly Archives: April 2012

Remember Pet Parents On Mother’s Day

I actually don’t call myself a “pet-parent,” nor do I call my dog my “fur-baby.” I like such terms, but I tend to avoid using them, myself. The only reason for this is because I don’t want to give ammunition to people who would accuse me of doting on my dog only to “make up” for not having children. There’s nothing more irritating than being told that I’m misdirecting my “natural maternal instincts” whenever I take care of my dog properly. 

I understand why people do call themselves “pet-parents,” and their animal companions “fur-babies.” It seems cruel, for one thing, to refer to pets as property to be owned. Animals aren’t toys, or decorations, or accessories. They’re thinking, feeling, living beings who we are fully responsible for as caretakers. It is our duty, when we take animals in, to see to their physical and mental wellbeing to the best of our ability. We are to raise our animal companions in stable, loving homes. To do any less is negligent. From the moment you bring an animal home, it is your responsibility for the rest of its life, not just until caring for it becomes inconvenient for you. If you aren’t prepared for that responsibility, get a picture of an animal instead. “Pet-parents” understand this. The specific things one is responsible for may be different, but the level of responsibility between caring for pets and caring for children is the same.

Additionally, the use of the terms “pet-parent” and “fur-baby” relate to the pet’s role within the family. It doesn’t matter if the animal isn’t a human child, the bond between someone responsible enough to take pet care seriously and that pet, is comparable to that between a mother and human child. This is especially pronounced in families without children, which are a growing segment of the population, but is a dynamic that should be present in any home with a pet anyway. My dog is certainly part of my family of three, and we take good care of her and love her dearly. Mothers don’t have the monopoly on love, on bonding, on care-taking, or on family.

In outrage that us mere non-moms would use such terminology, Susan Maushart, has written a piece for Huffington Post attacking the convention.

Because Pet Parents Are Moms Too!

I hate to be a bitch about this — but hey, female dogs are people too, right? — but when I read that subject line on an ASPCA email this week, it really gave me hairballs.

This reminds me, I really should subscribe to the ASPCA’s newsletter.

As for dogs being people, some people would argue that they could be considered such. I’m certainly more inclined to consider a dog a person than I am to consider a corporation or a human fetus to be such. 

I am a pet owner and I am a mom, and frankly, my dear, the two have about as much in common as a goldfish does to Godzilla. Rub my nose in it if you like, but it’s about time this whole “Pet Mommy” thing got some serious yanking back.

If you’re a responsible caretaker of your pet at all, then the burden that comes with that should be at least comparable to childcare. Dogs have needs beyond kibble and water. They need love and attention. They need socialization. They need positive reinforcement and encouragement. They need to be played with. They need to exercise. They need to have fun and experience new things. They need to be given rules and boundaries. They need to learn and be stimulated mentally. They need to be respected. They need to be rewarded with treats and toys and experiences they’ll enjoy. If you’re taking care of your dog right, you’re doing a lot of work.

For years now, it’s been accepted usage for pet owners — invariably child-free pet owners — to refer to their dogs and cats as their “kids,” and to do so without apparent irony. And an estimated $50 billion a year in pet-related goods and services currently fuels this delusion. Doggie daycare. Pet strollers. Halloween costumes. Veterinary insurance.

She says “invariably,” but non-childfree people often refer to themselves and others as “pet-parents” as well, especially if they work in a field that involves constant interaction with pets. There aren’t that many of us childfree folks, you know.

Animals are expensive, especially when they’re cared for right. I’ve had Molly for less than a year, and I’ve already dropped over a thousand dollars on her in 

the form of a plane ticket, a crate, food, toys, a bed, a home pet-dish, a portable pet dish, a harness, a seat-belt, a car tarp, treats, training tools, hygiene products, two leashes, a collar, tags, pet fees at home and when traveling, training classes, a backpack for hiking, and veterinary bills. And every bit of it was absolutely necessary in order to take proper care of her.

Doggy-day care is actually a great idea. Dogs have feelings too, and it’s not uncommon for them to experience separation anxiety when left home alone. Their nervousness at this situation may cause them to be more likely to be destructive than they otherwise would be. Dogs get lonely, bored, and scared just like anyone else. And if a care-taker is likely to be away for an extended period, it’s nice to know that the dog will be let out when it needs out, and that it will have adequate food and water. Additionally, dogs are social animals and being around other dogs is great for their enjoyment, and their emotional wellbeing. It’s good to socialize dogs with strange dogs and people. It’s certainly better than leaving them at home alone all day. I don’t use doggie day care myself, as someone is usually home, but I certainly see the appeal.

Pet strollers are another good idea for small breeds. Little dogs still need exercise, but they might tire on a walk long before a human does.

Halloween costumes are just a bit of fun. The author even admits to having her own dog wear one.

Veterinary insurance is a must! Medical care for pets can be expensive. I hate to see animals that could otherwise be saved and restored to good health simply because the care-taker was to cheap to actually follow through on their responsibility to their pet. I’d like to remind the class that animals aren’t toys to be discarded when broken. They’re living beings who you take responsibility for.

What? No college fund?

Actually, I’ve already spent a pretty penny on training courses for my dear Molly. When I get the time and the money, I’ll bring her to more classes still. Eventually, I’d like to have her certified as a therapy dog. It’s not exactly a four-year university, but it’s a considerable amount of training for a dog, and a considerable financial investment for myself.

There’s even an entire new literary genre riding on the back of our boundary confusion: “dogoir” — a heartwarming, first person narrative centering on the relationship dynamics between ordinary pet-owners and their spiritually gifted-and-talented woofspring.

Do you feel your ears perking up? Think about it. When’s the last time you picked up an inspirational book about child-rearing? Never. Because there is no such thing.

Actually, yeah, there is a ton of baby-worshipping, diaper-sniffing, umbilical cord-gazing drivel literature out there. It’s a flat lie to state otherwise. Hell, there are entire blog communities centered not just around the practical aspects of child-rearing, but the qualities of the relationship that are either romanticized or entirely imagined.

Real parents write bestsellers with titles like Go the F**k to Sleep and The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Real parents write survival guides. Field notes. Training manuals. Not freaking fantasy fiction with fur.

Actually, most “real parents” don’t write anything at all except facebook posts about the latest diaper blowout.

It’s become ideologically unsound to say so in public, but you and I both know that pets are stupid. Not just “slow” or “differently intelligent” — just plain stupid. (When we say a poodle is intelligent, we forget that we are speaking in purely relative terms. Compared to a pincushion, sure.) That’s not a moral failing. It’s not something we love them in spite of. It’s something we love them because of.

Pets aren’t stupid. It’s nonsense to say they are. It’s nothing but speciesist snobbery to hold the intelligence of another species to the standard as a human. Suppose I said humans were clumsy and compared them to cats to do so? Suppose I said humans were blind and compared them to hawks? Suppose I said humans were slow and compared them to antelope?

These “kids” of ours eat their own vomit, run straight into oncoming traffic and hump the furniture. Hello? Is that a reflection of their intelligence? Even more to the point, is that a reflection on our “parenting”?

Human children do the same things and worse. Both need to be taught not to. If the author’s pet does the things mentioned, then she has failed in her responsibilities to her dog.

As for dogs, most can be housebroken within weeks of birth if the human cares enough and knows what they’re doing. Cats can be litter-trained at a similarly young age, often with little involvement on the part of any human. Cats can even be taught to use toilets. Human children? You’re lucky if they’ve stopped wetting the bed by age five.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me significant that we cannot crate our children. Nor can we expect them to heel, appreciate table scraps or take well to shock-collaring. At the same time, we do not fight for Angry Birds access with our cats. Our dogs waste little time on social media, and can almost always be counted on to say ‘no’ to drugs. And if they dress provocatively, I think it’s fair to say we only have ourselves to blame.

Actually, human children do get “crated,” if you think about it. They’re called cribs and play-pens. Even older children are often “crated” in their own bedrooms. And if you’re a decent parent, you’d better be able to expect the child to heel.

Shock collars are abuse. They shouldn’t be used on any animal. Shock collars are used on dogs and not on children because of speciesism. It’s as simple and horrible as that.

As for the rest, the author has only demonstrated why pets are better than children.

This Mothers Day, let’s remember that, as much as we adore our animals — and full disclosure: I dressed my pug as a monarch butterfly last Halloween, and it was awesome — they are not our children. To pretend otherwise makes monkeys of all of us.

Until there is a nationally-recognized holiday specifically celebrating pets, I think Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are perfectly acceptable times to celebrate our animal companions. (Share!) Anyone who would call themselves “pet-parents” is completely justified in doing so.

As for myself, apart from occasionally referring to Molly as my “baby,” I don’t pretend that my dog is the same as human child. She’s better, as far as I’m concerned. I much prefer dogs. Why would I pretend that she was something less desirable to me, right?
Kidding aside, no one is affected by using the term “pet-parent,” especially as the prefix “pet” makes the term very clear in meaning and avoids any confusion. So there’s really no sense in getting pissy over it. Calm down, Maushart. 

Happy Mother’s Day, pet mamas!

10 Tips For Getting Fixed (MOVED!)

Woops! This blog post has moved. You can find it at its new home HERE.

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam…

Update: Dr. Berger has assured me that he has nothing to do with the spam bots.

I recently checked my blog’s automatic spam filter. It seems a number of not spam comments were falsely flagged as such. They are now up. I apologize for the delay to those comment authors. But as I was checking my spam notices, I discovered something weird. I have a disproportionate amount of spam related to infertility, including IVF and tubal reversals, the latter of which specifically advertising one, Dr. Berger. Yeah, kind of barking up the entirely wrong bush on a childfree blog. What’s weird is a lot of these spam comments are on posts completely unrelated to my tubal ligation, or fertility, or childfreedom, or children. Weird! This was on my Sticky: WARNING! OPINIONS AHEAD! post. It contained no pictures and no mention of children. And yet:

Hi Julie,I found your blog via Wendy’s class. I’ll be in it also.Love your photos. Such an aalodbre little boy you have. You have so much good info on here. I’ll come back frequently to check it all out.-Carol

I’m not currently in any classes and I don’t know any Wendys. I’m no photographer, most of the pics on this site are from my phone or just taken from random sites. I certainly don’t have any children, let alone any boys. Imagi-Gary is not real. I can’t think of who she might be talking about, or what photo. WTF?! It gets weirder. This was on My Childfree Rules Re-Write: About Being Childfree. Anyone who read that would have no doubt about my childfree status, and yet this was posted, apparently to me (and not to anyone else.)

Congratulations on your beautiful bludne of joy and the relief of problems from your tubal ligation. I too have have so many problems of the same nature since my TL 13 yrs ago. I received my TR surgery on my birthday 4/28/2009 and turned 41. I did it due to having the same problems and to also be able to conceive again if possible. I am kind of skeptical due to my age, but I am very healthy otherwise. My husband was concerned due to my problems and is hoping I will be better than before. He is more excited now than he was before my TR surgery to be able to conceive. He is so anxious he can’t hardly wait for me to heal to try and conceive. We both have children from a previous marriage but none together. We believe it will be wonderful to have a child together and raise it together. Thank you for your encouragement.Annmarie M.Tennessee -Gina

My only “bundle of joy” would be my adorable dog, Molly. And I have had NO problems with my tubal ligation as “post tubal ligation syndrome” is likely not even real. I’m sure as hell not encouraging anyone to pollute this already horrendously overpopulated world with more children, especially when they already have some, and especially when their advanced age is likely to result in children with health problems, because such actions are selfish and stupid. On the note of not giving a crap about any Infertile-Myrtle’s non-problems of infertility, I got these two nonsense spam messages. Both of these were on Sterilized On World Population Day, which, as you might guess, was about how I finally triumphed in obtaining permanent sterilization, and just happened to do so on a day that serves to remind us of our growing overpopulation crisis.

I am so glad to see this post. I’m 45 yrs old and had my tubes tied (cauterized) 11 yrs ago after my third child was born. Same as Penni, the fertility cilnic I went to would not perform the reversal because of my age. IVF is apparently my only solution. I’ve gone through all the hormone test (FSH, sonohystogram, etc.) and I was told that there’s follicles we can work with.I have finally decided to go ahead with my original plan to have my tubes reversed. My current partner doesn’t have any children while I had 3 with my first marriage. I would really love to have another child and I hope that someday, I can have another one. I am planning my reversal for September of this year. -Austin

Weirdly, this comment was in response to Beth, who wrote:

Just wanted to say a very sincere thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences pre- and post-TL; honestly, several of your posts have been the most helpful things I’ve read so far. I’ve got a TL scheduled in a couple of days, and was doing a bunch of web surfing to try to make sure I have a thorough understanding of what it will be like and what (if anything) I need to worry about for afterward. I found it refreshing to read something that’s not borderline hysterical. :-) -Beth

Yeah, I don’t think Beth and Austin are on the same page here. Here’s another comment on the same post, evidently posted to me.

What an inspiration to read your story. I will be 46 in Sept. Had my fsh tsteed and it came back 2.9! Thats when I really beleived maybe my eggs werent to old yet -like all the other websites statistics and Dr. tell us they are at our age! Like many of you I already have 4 wonderful boys 26-11 yrs old and my fiance has none. I am torn between invtro and TR. I also want to experience getting pregnant the natural way not through invitro. Thanks for posting your story of encouragement for all of us. Many blessings and prayers to all!! -Auth

Not only is this, again, a story bout a happily childfree person joyfully obtaining a tubal ligation, and doing so on World Population Day, but his is also the blog of a borderline anti-natalist and outspoken atheist. Ok, now I start getting ads for Dr. Berger tubal reversal. Oddly, they don’t even seem to be on the post where I dismiss “post tubal ligation syndrome,” as little more than a medical myth, according to current medical research. This was on Sterilized On World Population Day.

I just finished the first and prlobaby last IVF treatment that resulted in 45 shots over 10 days, surgical retrieval of eggs, only 2 fair to poor embryos that were transplanted, and a negative pregnancy test. I was told because of my age 45 that IVF was my only true hope of having another baby (I have 3 children already and my husband has 1 from a prior marriage). My husband is 12 years younger than me and we both want children together. After getting a phone call today from my doctor on the heels of the bad news, she doesn’t think I should try again because of my age. While devastated at this news, I am taking heart and hope from the testimonies on this page that all will be well for us. We will get pregnant the old fashioned way after a little help from Dr. Berger and his team. It certainly should be a heck of a lot more fun than what I just went through. -Miranda

IVF, it’s selfish, stupid, narcissistic, wasteful, and disgusting. I hope it fails every time. Stop breeding more people into this overpopulated world and adopt if you really must have kids. And stop wasting medical resources so your narcissistic asses can have your genetic replicants. This was posted to me on the post, Kids and Soldiers, which is about soldiers in my company, including myself, volunteering to help out in child-related activities. The comment below has nothing at all to do with the content of the post.

I just want to thank Dr. Berger and staff for helping my couisn Pamela and her husband to having a baby. She tried for the longest time after she had the surgery to have a baby and had 2 miscarrages(sp) and then she got pregnant with Baby Jesus (aka Porky as we call him) he is the sweetest lil baby. Pamela and Jesus are the loving parents of this beautiful baby boy. I speak for the whole family when i say THANK YOU for helping them get pregnant and having this miracle baby. We are greatful for what you done for this family. To all the women that want to have babies beileve in Dr. Berger and his staff at Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center they will help you in anyway possible to make a miracle come true for you!!THANK YOU GUY!!!! -Sachin

This next one was posted on A Kid Visited My Home. Nothing Broke. I’m Not Surprised, which is a diary post, which is mostly about how I actually don’t hate kids, and how the stupid advice given in various child-proofing articles is completely unnecessary when parents actually parent. So, again, the comment has nothing to do with the post.

Dr. Berger, I am a 28 years old woman hoping for anohter chance to have anohter baby. I have two boys and they are 14 and 11 years old. I had my tubes tied when my youngest was 5 years old Now I am with someone that doesn’t have any kids he loves my kids and is very good to them, but I would like for us to have our own .he is a good guy and at the beginning I was afraid to tell him about my tubes tied, but god helped me and I told him ..he was sad but then we found your website and we are very excited about meeting you and hoping you could help us !!!

I am not Dr. Berger. If it were up to me, none of these idiots would get reversals. If they can’t be bothered to think through decisions like permanent sterilization, then they aren’t responsible enough to be trusted with children anyway. Think through your actions, bitches! Worst of all, these thoughtless idiots make obtaining sterilization harder to obtain for people who actually are responsible enough to think their actions through very carefully. So thanks a fucking lot, assholes. As for infertility, get the fuck over it. It is not a tragedy, or anything anyone “suffers” from. No one needs children, especially not in an overpopulated world. If infertility is someone’s biggest complaint, I’d like to congratulate them on having no real problems in life. If you really want kids, adopt.

Gun Control. Let’s Be Reasonable Adults

Some people freak out about the dumbest things. And when they do, I know I must be saying all the right things. If people are outraged by my words, then I have clearly found something that needs to be said. I have burst someone bubble, and rather than look at their own actions and views, they get defensive.

When a friend of mine, Antitheistangie, posted on twitter, advising motorists to be aware of motorcycles around them (I imagine she did so in the same vein as “look twice, save a life,”) she was surprised at the responses she received as a result. People were apparently incensed that they were actually expected to be responsible drivers. Apparently, it’s completely intolerable for Angie to interfere with anyone’s right to be an unsafe driver who endangers the lives of others.

Not long after that, a blog post written by another friend, Jessica Sideways, was beset by angry trolls because she had the sheer audacity to say that domestic abuse was not, in fact, any more funny than it was acceptable. Not only are men justified in beating women who anger them (seriously, someone responded with that,) but it was perfectly acceptable to mock victims of abuse, according to the respondents. And Jessica? Well,  she’s every unpleasant name you could possibly call a person and  deserved to be threatened with violence, and have her address made public (luckily, the troll used the wrong one,) for her “crime” of pointing out unacceptable, yet common, behavior.

Really, humanity? Really?

As for myself, despite being a veteran who knows my way around multiple weapons big and small, occasionally (although not recently) goes shooting recreationally, and has a few guns in my home (they’re my boyfriends, I don’t own any myself,) I am apparently an anti-gun “extremist” and “fanatic.” Why? Because I don’t join the Chicken Littles of the world who get hysterical over every single common sense gun-control measure, that’s why. The sky isn’t falling all over the second amendment if the state requires background checks and reasonable waiting periods. Nor are anyone’s rights to bear arms unduly infringed upon by not being able to use flash suppressors and armor-piercing rounds without having a very good, lawful reason.

When I was connecting my Amazon account to my iPhone today, it gave a number of pre-made security questions (I swear I’m going somewhere with this.). One of these questions was, “Where were you on New Year’s Eve, 2000?” Well, that’s easy to remember. I spent New Year’s in the hospital. Why? Because I’d been SHOT!

I was eleven years old, at the park late at night with my family and my best friend. We found a spot on the hill where we could see the Centennial Bridge on the Mississippi River, and laid down our blanket. I sat in my mother’s warm lap, as I had incorrectly thought that my sweater was an adequate substitute for a coat. We made a few jokes about Y2K and listened to some patriotic music on the radio as we waited for the show to start.

I only saw a few seconds of the fireworks display we’d been waiting for before I had to be rushed to the hospital, a bullet wound going all the way through my shoulder. My next few weeks were spent in a foster home. I’ll never forget that experience. I don’t think that anyone who suffers the pain of being shot, or of being wrongly removed from their family ever does.

All of this happened to me, to my family, because of a single idiot who I will never know. Somewhere, someone was celebrating the occasion the completely wrong way, by firing a gun up into the air. What comes up must come down, and the shooter might never know where the bullet will finally land, or who is hurt or even killed because of it. Hardly a New Year’s goes by where I don’t read a story in the paper about someone being injured or killed because of some irresponsible gunman’s celebratory fire. It’s sick, and irresponsible.

Will mandatory classes on local gun laws (like how it’s illegal to shoot within city limits) and gun safety (like DON’T SHOOT UP INTO THE DAMNED AIR!) prevent such shootings? Would it have prevented what happened to me? Maybe. Maybe not. But do such classes infringe on anyone’s right to own a gun? No. Hell, no one bats an eye about similar (actually, more prohibitive) requirements to get a driver’s license, and cars aren’t even intended to be weapons.

Yet people freak out while, ironically, accusing me of being the extremist. Frankly, the people who can’t be reasonable about gun control are exactly the kind of irresponsible, unstable idiots who shouldn’t touch firearms anyway.

If you’re not intelligent and responsible enough to understand the need for reasonable gun-control measures, then you aren’t the type of person who deserved to be trusted with a gun. having reasonable gun laws is not the same as banning guns. Calm the fuck down, people.

And you can take that from a rational, reasonable, and responsible person, trained in weapons use and safety. I don’t want to take guns away from anyone except those too unstable to own them.

Drive-By Thoughts: Share If You Believe

A while ago, on Face Book, I ran into a horrifying picture. It appeared to be some sort of accident, with mangled metal and bodies. Next to the army of one of the bloody corpses was a small boy, seemingly alive and unharmed, which a circle drawn on the picture around his face. The worst part about the picture was the caption “Share if you believe in God.”

Although I do not believe, I was tempted to share anyway while adding the commentary “… and believe that he’s a sick monster who has the power to prevent tragedies like this, but doesn’t. “ How is it that so few actually consider this?

Why, hello there, Epicurus. 

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

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