I own some cats, three to be exact. They are all rescues, two of them are getting on a bit and one of them is only 3. The youngest one is skittish, but he likes yoghurt, dougnuts and beer. I think he is very funny, dumb as a box of rocks, but funny. He is a champion fly killer.
The biggest of the cats is a chatty sort of guy. He hangs off my desk every day when I work. He is there now. I can reach out and scratch the top of his head right this second. The oldest of them, well she's just an old slob and she sleeps a lot, I've had her nearly 14 years. She understands about fifteen different words and has a very distinct call for me, which I think is ferociously cute.
They are mine, I like them, even though they do nothing and use one of my sofas as a scratching post no matter how many times I throw the newspaper at them. I own them, ergo I am responsible for them, their health and their well being. That is fine, it was my choice when I took them on and I don't mind in the slightest. Except for ear-cleaning Friday, that I could do without.
The son of the couple across the road has a bulldog/staffy type of some kind. It is a young dog, strong, energetic, intelligent, no more than eighteen months old or so. I know this because I know when he got the dog. The son in eighteen/nineteen and in college all day long. The mother -naturally enough- does not want a big bouncy dog in her apartment during day.
So this dog lives 23.5 hours a day, seven days a week, on a terrace a bit bigger than my kitchen. I can see him when I hang washing out on my line. He looks over at me, wags his tail and peers hopefully over the ledge. Sometimes he barks in the evening when the parents are home, a slow monotonous sharp bark that continues for up to an hour at a time. It is not his fault, he is simply bored rigid.
Sometimes I think of what it must be like for him. He has maybe another 10 years of this life. 10 years of sitting day after day, staring at the four blank walls of the terrace, sniffing the air, watching out for the lady across the way to hang out her clothes and call a few nice words over the space.
It really breaks my heart.
What is the point? Why have that animal? The owner gets no pleasure from him, he spends every Saturday morning grumpily hosing and disinfecting down the terrace, (I dread to think what it is like during the week) He takes the dog out at night, half an hour, tops, no more that that. There is no other interaction so what enjoyment does he get from that poor dog?
Dogs are social creatures. They like company, they like to be with the family, they like snoring in front of a fire or lying under your feet where you work. They like going out and about during the day, they like a game of chase, they like chewing giant pieces of stick and playing games, they like it when you stick your foot out and rub their bellies with your foot when you are on the phone.
Buying a pup and putting him out on a terrace for endless years is a selfish and thoughtless act. The isolation creates a vicious, unsocial, poorly mannered, lonely dog.
It is the ultimate act of passive cruelty.