A Pet Like a Dog

Apparently there’s some TV show about marital spats mediated by celebrities. I didn’t catch it, but I happened upon an Internet discussion about the show. One of the couples were arguing about the husband’s pet tortoises.

“He keeps pet tortoises like dogs!” one person exclaimed.

“What kind of person in his right mind keeps a tortoise like a dog?” another asked rhetorically.

Apparently, the whole discussion was so urgent it was picked up by Oprah right where Alex Baldwin and Jerry Seinfeld left off. Should folks have tortoises like dogs? Oprah asked. To her credit, I’m told she took the side of the tortoises.

Whassup, T Dawg?
moar funny pictures

Still, I’m bemused by the repetition of “like a dog,” as if that’s the only frame of reference for a pet. I keep cats like dogs who never go outside. I have kept hamsters like little cage-dwelling dogs and fish like little brightly-colored aquatic dogs. I have friends who keep horses like big, rideable dogs in a stable. I have friends who keep lizards and turtles like little tiny reptilian dogs. I’ve read about people with pet owls, monkeys, elephants and pigs. It’s actually a favorite topic of mine — there are all kinds of incredible animals in the world who can have great relationships with humans. This is a major theme of my second novel, though it’s also a major theme that people shouldn’t keep wild, dangerous animals as pets.

Still, I was struck by the silliness of the conversation. It’s not the biggest problem in the world or anything, but I’d like people to be a bit more broadminded about what constitutes a “pet”, rather than assume anyone with an exotic pet is out of his or her mind.  To me there’s no discussion about whether a tortoise should be kept “like a dog,” although there may be a very sensible one about whether and how a tortoise should kept as a pet “like a tortoise.”

2 thoughts on “A Pet Like a Dog

  1. I’m a pretty broad-minded person, but I think wild and/or exotic animals shouldn’t be kept as pets. There is a certain amount of vanity involved with it, even if there can also be a lot of love.

    As far as exotic animals go in this country, the animal trafficking business ranks right up there with guns, drugs, and slaves in terms of how much money is involved. It’s really sad. I don’t think folks who keep tigers, tropical birds, etc. are out of their mind, just incredibly vain and selfish.

    • Christina, I really agree with you. I am enraged by stories about wild animals kept as pets, then get euthanized because they hurt somebody. I was just more reacting the insistence on comparing them to dogs, as if the tortoises themselves were to blame for being bad pets because they hadn’t evolved with fur. I do think some reptiles can be good pets, but I’m not that informed on which make the best pets.

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