The other day I came across an article from The Guardian that was titled: “Pets Can Wreck Relationships.”
The article basically concluded that people who spoil and excessively love their pets will have a hard time attracting a potential mate.
A nationwide survey of attitudes to pet ownership was conducted with more than 200,00 people in the UK. The online questionnaires revealed that the type of a pet a person owned, the way they treated the pet, and the number they owned had a significant influence on how they looked as a future partner.
Women were not fans of men who owned spiders, with 48% admitting to being repelled at just the thought. Men were turned off by partners who spoiled pets and spent an excessive amount on accessories and grooming for the pet. One in four men said they would not date a woman with two or more cats and a third of women said they would avoid men who let cats sleep on their pillows.
25% of men and women questioned said that if push came to shove, for example if a new partner was unbearably allergic to their pet, they would still choose to keep the pet.
After reading this article, I got to thinking about why does the majority of society think that pets ruin relationships. Why is a woman that has more than two cats considered a “crazy cat lady” and is someone that men should run away from? Why is a man that owns a cat sometimes looked at strangely compared to a man that owns a dog? Why do we put the blame on our innocent pets when it is a person’s fault for judging someone that has numerous pets or allows a pet to sleep in their bed?
I even got more frustrated when I read stories of pet owners giving up cats and dogs after their boyfriend, fiance or husband didn’t want the pet anymore. The love for a relationship and partner in life had been put above the life-long commitment that someone made to take care of this pet for the rest of his life. When we own a pet, we too are entering into a relationship with them and have promised them that we would love, feed, and care for them. I was saddened when people lost the sight of their commitment to their pet in their quest for love.
Many pet owners only date other pet owners because they have had those horrible experiences when a non-pet owner couldn’t stand the pet or felt that the pet got in the way of the relationship. They don’t want to deal with someone who has no experience or may not understand why they may be spending money on a pet or treating them like a member of the family.
Because of this, the dichotomy between pet owners and non pet owners has gotten wider. Is there any way for us to all get along? (I know… sounds cheesy. Perhaps I will break out in song and dance.)
You may ask why would we want to change a non pet-owner’s mind to actually date someone with pets? If pet owners are happy dating pet owners, and if some non pet-owners don’t want to date pet owners, then everything seems fine, right?
But I see this as a way of educating more and more people about the importance of pets and how they truly do enhance relationships between people. It could possibly be a chance to turn more non pet-owners into pet owners.
I admit, I was one of these non pet-owner people. I did grow up with pets like fish, turtles and birds when I was younger — they were all containable, so they wouldn’t get out and destroy my parents’ furniture. But as I grew up, I was neutral towards animals. I would pet them whenever I saw one, but I really didn’t think I would ever own a cat or dog because it seemed like too much work. I figured that life was fine without pets, so there was really no need for them in my life.
This all changed when my boyfriend at the time (now husband) placed a pet in my life. I came back from a weekend out of town, and when I stopped by his apartment, I saw a bounding furry thing coming towards me. I said, uh, I think you need to call animal services because an animal broke into your place. No, this was not a loose stray animal. He had adopted him over the weekend.
For the next few months, this new member of the household followed me around while I kept my distance. Whenever he was on the couch, I sat on the other side of the couch. But then he would move right next to me, and I couldn’t escape.
I still didn’t know how I felt about him. I had to clean up after him and he was still getting used to everything in the house, so he was having accidents and that was yet another thing I had to clean. I simply couldn’t understand the love that my significant other had for the dog.
Finally, after two months, Nemo wriggled his way into my heart. I don’t know at what exact moment that I turned from someone that was neutral about pets to someone that was head over heels in love with animals. But I just knew that I was. He was a member of the family and I couldn’t imagine life without him.
A non pet-owner had changed into a pet owner. Actually I wasn’t just a pet owner, I was a pet parent. Through my significant other having a pet, I had become more educated and open-minded towards pets. I became someone I had never thought I would be — a person that didn’t mind picking up poop in the middle of a cold winter night, a person that allowed a pet to sleep in the same bed, a person that treated pets as a member of the family, a person that was simply crazy in love with all animals.
In contrast to The Guardian article, pets have never caused any strife in our relationship. Instead they have made it even better — they have given us love and laughter. They show us the happiness and simple pleasures of life. They make us slow down to enjoy the world and each other. They love us for who we are even though we may get upset or frustrated at them. Their love for us never wanes or is conditional. They show us how to be accepting and patient.
Through the love they have showed me, I am able to love my pets for who they are. I know that there are some things I can’t change about them (like waking me up at 3 am to go outside), but I still love them regardless. With pets, I can put my guard down and not hide anything because I know they won’t hurt me. The same goes for my husband. I love him for who he simply is. I give him my love, wholly and without any limitations. And he does the same for me.
So, for all the non pet-owners out there, please give pets a chance. A woman with more than two cats is not a crazy cat lady. She is someone that has a lot of love to give and is nurturing towards others. Take it as a good thing. This means that she is loving, caring, and someone that has a good heart.
For those pet owners looking for love, perhaps don’t be so hard on someone that is a non pet-owner. Maybe he or she just needs a furry animal to wriggle into his or her heart and show how great pets can be. Soon they may be a lover of pets as much as you are.