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Animals Are Not Things

Copy: Serena Faber Nelson

Photography: Petal Photography

I’ve always been uncomfortable with calling myself a dog owner. You see while I love my dog very much, I don’t like calling myself her ‘owner’ as to me that makes her seem like a possession. A ‘Thing’. Call me a car owner? That’s fine. A home owner? I wish. But a dog owner? Not so much.

I still use the term though – you’ll see in Pretty Fluffy’s introduction to the right, we’re the go-to-guide for the modern dog owner. But for some reason when I use it on a personal level, it just doesn’t sit well.

You see, we currently live in a world where for many people, animals are a commodity. They are things to be used, traded, exploited and discarded. We use rabbits to test our makeup, cram chickens into cages to collect their eggs, factory farm cows and their young to eat their flesh and drink their milk. We buy puppies only to abandon them in old age. We wear animal skins on our feet and back. We carry their hides as purses, or decorate our bodies with their fur. We use their bones in our potions and lotions. For some animals they become our eyes to guide us in the world, others our prized possessions to be traded for profit. They risk their lives for us in dangerous situations, carry the heavy loads we cannot bear, and sit in enclosures for our amusement. To be an animal in 2012 is a dangerous prospect.

Feeling guilty? Me too. But this is not an article to disparage people’s personal choices related to the issues above. For me I still eat fish and wear leather shoes, while at the same time I adamantly deplore the use of animal testing and factory farming. I’m a walking, talking contradiction. Every day I try to do better. BE better.

But despite all this, there is one thing I can define clearly. When I watch my dog play with a new toy, cuddle up to me at the end of the day, or just sit in the garden to take in the sunlight, I don’t see a possession. I don’t see a commodity. I see a life. I see a living, breathing creature with a spirit. I see a soul with the ability to feel happiness, sadness, pain, joy, loss, excitement and everything in between. Soda is as real as you and me, and deserves a life as fulfilled as yours and mine.

This insight is not restricted to my loyal friend of 11 years. When I see cows dancing at their release into the open after a life without sunlight, or watch laboratory Beagles feel grass under their feet for the very first time; I see that spirit. When I watch the reassuring embrace of test Chimps upon their transfer into a natural habitat, or watch dogs welcome home their military owners from deployment, it is there.

But unfortunately it isn’t always joy and happiness that I see in these animals. Too often I see animals experiencing fear, betrayal and heartbreaking pain. And too often these emotions come at the hands of a human who sees them as little more than a possession. I know it was only a film, but for this very reason I found myself bawling my eyes out within 5 seconds of the new Planets of the Apes movie.* And for this same very reason, I found myself cheering on the great apes as they came to power.** Call me crazy, but for me Dr Zaius was onto something.

As a world we need to start respecting our fellow species. We need to start realising animals were not put on this earth merely for our own personal gain. We need to begin to understand they’re here for the exact same reasons we are. Not to get married, or climb the career ladder, or buy a home; but to experience the basis of life. To find joy. To feel love. To connect. To live.

For a chicken that is unable to lay eggs still can enjoy foraging in the garden. A horse that can no longer pull a carriage still can feel their sun on their back. A puppy that was born with the wrong colouring may not be a winning show dog, but they still can be a faithful companion. Without us, they still have a purpose.

So as you make your way in the world this week, I have a little favour to ask. When you spend time with an animal, or happen on using a product or service an animal was involved in, make a conscious thought towards the life of that animal. Think about just how much they give to us on a daily basis, and thank them.

Thank them for being them.

* I know – I am possibly the most FUN movie date ever. I also ask questions in spy thrillers and eat Maltesers loudly.
** I also ruin endings for people who haven’t seen the movie yet. Sorry.

Copy: Serena Faber Nelson

Photography: Petal Photography

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Animals Are Not Things”

  1. Andrea says:

    Beautiful post.

  2. Serena you know I love your blog but have to say this is one of my fave posts so far! Kirby is my heart dog so you put into words what my heart feels!

    I have watched every foster we have ever had change from a frightened withdrawn animal into a playful trusting animal. These amazing creatures just want to love and be loved by anyone anywhere in anyway! Sharing this post on Kirby’s FB Page! Well done!!!

    • Thanks so much! It’s definitely one of my favourite posts too. I love all the other posts I do on here, but this is by far one of the most heartfelt pieces I’ve ever written.

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for everything you do for animals. i’ve said it before, but YOU are an inspiration to me and many others! xx

  3. You’re so right. Adopting a pet is adopting a new member of the family and should be done with the greatest care. I refer to my Lucy as my dogger because I feel like she’s my daughter and I’m her mom!
    –TS

    • Dogger is the best name! I might have to steal it 😉
      I think once you have a close bond with an animal you start to see the world through their eyes a bit more. And finding a bit more love for them all in our day to day lives is a wonderful thing.

  4. Well said, Serena!!! This is going as one of our favorite posts

    As much as we adore & try to respect all living creatures, we are also guilty of being walking contradictions when it comes to our diet and clothing choices… But the kids that happen to cross path with us are forever embeded in our hearts and owners of our souls <3

    • Thanks so much!! I LOVED writing it. It really came from a very real place and I’ve been thinking about the content for months, so it’s great to see such a heartening response. Makes me think there’s hope for the future of all the lovely creatures in our world x

  5. Beth C says:

    That was beautiful. Thank you.

  6. Naomi says:

    Absolutely beautiful! This is one of the best posts I have ever read and I am so glad other people feel the same way in a world where animals these days are disposable. I went to spend some time with some Doggie Rescue pups, and was so horrified to hear that some of the most common reasons why they become orphans is because people came to Australia to study, got a dog for their time here, and then left them here when they decided to go back overseas. I don’t know how people can do that. I see Rufio as my son and a part of my heart. He has brought so much joy and I am so grateful everyday that I have him in my life. He has made my life whole. Thank you so much Serena. This made my day.

    • Thanks Naomi! I’m horrified too to think people could adopt and abandon a dog with so little thought. They are so lucky they have people like you who care and look out for them. I can definitely relate to your comment. Soda is part of me and I too am so grateful to have her in my life. Thanks for the lovely comment x

  7. […] read a post today that really touched my heart. This post by Pretty Fluffy is a beautiful piece to remind people that animals are not things, they are a […]

  8. Kim McDang says:

    Wow! What a beautiful post with lots of heart! I think many people can relate to what you have said.

    When my hubby and I bought our little pup Evie last year, we fell in love with her and she has brought nothing but joy to our lives. She’s our little ‘fur-baby’ who we can’t live without. We’re not her ‘owners’ but her parents 🙂

    • Thanks Kim! It’s SO wonderful to see so many people relate. I was scared I could be written off as a crazy hippie 🙂
      It’s so great to see people like yourselves enjoying their own little families of fur children. They give so much love and allow us to give love in return. It’s such a wonderful addition to all of our lives. Hugs to Evie! 🙂

  9. Siany says:

    This post could have honestly been written by me. Loved it, so very true, all of it.

    My furkids are my world. I always tell people that they own me, as its definitely not the other way around! 🙂 Everyday they bring me so much joy and I don’t think it’s possible for me to love them anymore than I do. Animals are truly incredible and when I think of my furbabies it hurts my heart to imagine any animal living with any less love.

    When I think outside of my own home to the greater animal kingdom, I often find myself deeply saddened at the thought of animals living in hell, at the hands of humans, for nothing more than greed and consumption. Like you, everyday I am working towards becoming a better person and making permanent lifestyle changes for the greater good. 🙂

    • Beautiful comment Siany. You’re so right, they do own us more than we own them 🙂
      Congrats on working towards making better choices day by day. I think that is the best we can all do. No one is perfect, but by being more mindful we can make a difference x

  10. Very well said Serena,

    I can totally relate to the concerns you lay out within this post regarding animal cruelty of all kind. My partner is vegan and although I’m not (I still eat fish and very rarely dairy and wear vintage leather both on my feet and back) I still understand our overall human culture of speciesism! Most people react to animal cruelty regarding domestic pets with anger (rightfully so) yet these are the same people that see no problem with eating meat rom cows, pigs, chickens and veal which is practically all factory farmed and slaughtered so unethically that if most people knew exactly how that very food was grown and killed, they would never touch it again! Reading Jonathan Safran Foers book Eating Animals really has blown open the door on just how cruel we all are for continueing to partcipate and fund the meat bussiness every single day all for our tastebuds! This extends into over population of domestic animals such as cats and dogs as well. The statistic is that over 30,000 cats and dogs get put down a day in the u.S. Not a month, not a week, A DAY! Yet we continue to support private breeders because we are obsessed with breed status and we continue to support puppy mills and the pet stores that sell these animals, and in the process, these abnadoned dogs and cats don’t have a chance in hell at life! This is the primary reason why we adopted Mamma Biscuit, a puppy mill bitch who was forced to have over 100 puppies during her 8 year stay at her mill to fulfill this consumer need for dogs through pet stores! Mamma was incarcerated her entire life, had never been outdoors and had never felt any love! I was also adament about adopting an older dog and to blog about her to show everyone just how fantastic older dogs can be and to give a big fuck you to the ageist ideas that older dogs and cats are undesirable! Animal cruelty can end if we encourage people to adopt a plant-based diet and we encourage adopting domestic animals for pets! We are the consumers, we are the people who are shelling out money for these goods and only we can demand change through changing the product demand! Thanks so much for writing this post Serena! Pug hugs and kisses to you and Soda!

    • GREAT comment! I haven’t actually read Jonathan Safran Foers book Eating Animals – I read Skinny Bitch a few years ago and it opened my eyes even more to how some animals are treated. For me, factory farming and puppy mills are two issues that are very close to my heart. Like you say, these animals just don’t even get a fighting chance. It breaks my heart.
      What warms my heart though is Mamma Biscuit. I just think about all the love you guys show her and how much joy she brings to your lives in return. And I agree – old dogs are AWESOME!
      The response to this post has really shown me there are so many people who care and bit by bit we will make a difference. Hugs and kisses back!!

  11. I’ve always known dogs and animals have souls and it’s lovely to see it printed on your blog! I love my puppy so much and it’s easy to see that he feels love, happiness, excitement and joy! He is also one of the most comforting loving beings I have ever known!

    • Thanks Megs! I can remember when I was about 9 years old a priest told me only humans go to heaven. I told him there was no way I was going to heaven if my dog wasn’t there! they definitely have souls – in fact they have purer souls than any of us. thanks for the lovely comment xx

  12. Serena, you’re choking me up. This post is just beautiful. I am nodding to so many words you have written. For me, my dog is my child, companion, play mate, inspiration, security guard and teammate. It’s so sad that people disregard their dogs as they age. It will be an honour for me to look after my dog as he ages, in return for all the good he has brought to our lives. I cry when I see things in movies too. And can’t stand seeing news articles of animal abuse. It hurts too much.

    • “My dog is my child, companion, play mate, inspiration, security guard and teammate.” – Now you have me tearing up! I completely agree.
      And don’t worry about crying – cry in every animal related movie there is! Snow Dogs, March of the Penguins…and don’t even get me started on Up! 🙂

  13. Aivy says:

    THIS
    Oh my god, I have always been thinking/wondering about the same thing. You very eloquently put into words the exact thoughts I am having. I love my dog more than anything and honestly can’t even image my life without him.

    • Thanks Aivy – it’s so lovely to see so many other people feel the same way. We’re so lucky to have dogs and other animals in our lives, it’s great to see so many people appreciate them xx

  14. Cassandra C. says:

    Well said. I agree wholeheartedly.

    ADOPT your pets! <3

  15. Amber says:

    I know that I am VERY late to the party… but this just made me cry. What an insightful post.

    • Serena Faber Nelson says:

      Aw – thanks so much Amber. And nothing’s wrong with being fashionably late 😉

      I’m so glad this post touhed you – it means that there are more people out there in the world like yourself that care about animals that I thought. Which is a beautiful thing! x

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