I love them. Well, sort of.

Sometimes I see someone squatting on the side of the road picking up their dog's poop with a plastic sack and I think to myself, "Humans are so strange."

Yet I, myself, have picked up many a bag of dog poop in my day.

Those little 4-legged friends can be such sweet companions. Plus, there can be benefits to pet ownership even beyond relational joys and therapeutic effects:

Dogs are great for security... Cats are great for rodents... Chickens are great for eggs... Sheep are great for fields of grass... Fish... uh, decorating dentist waiting rooms...? Birds, bunnies, hamsters, snakes... ... ... I don't know, but people enjoy having them in their home. 

We innately like to cohabitate and share our homesteads not only with other humans but often also with critters. Or sometimes with critters instead of other humans. 

My dear pal wrote a post, "October: For Breast Cancer Not Pit Bulls" and received dozens of angry replies at her suggestion that human life should invariably take precedence over animals' lives and welfare. As I read through the comments of mostly-illogical highly-emotional arguments, one sad person's reply in particular has stayed with me. She said people had let her down but her dog never had.

I read that as an example of the harshness of life. How tragic that we are a people who hurt each other and are so disconnected from each other that animals rise in standing on par with or above other humans.

I firmly believe pets hold a valuable role in our lives. That's not in question here. (Okay, so now would NOT be a great time to go back and read the entire piece I wrote on the pointlessness of rabbit ownership.) But also - and much more so - we need human relationships. Healthy ones.

I find it curious that often, instead of nurturing and serving others, we anoint our pets with souls and diamond-studded collars. We humanize our animals.

Graph source: www.fool.com

Currently, we're between pets in my household.

Well, that is, if you don't count the hairy caterpillar living in an atrium box in the center of our dining room table.

My 7-year old has been pining for a pet for a couple of years now. I am, however, pretty sure his motivation is primarily born from a peer group of 2nd graders who view pets as status symbols. Plus, he forgets to drink water routinely and is not very good at wiping his own butt, so he surely can't be relied upon to be a responsible pet owner.

And then there's my 3-year old daughter, who has literally made friends with every dog in a 1-mile radius; it feels a tad cruel not allowing such an innate affection to cultivate. She, however, forgets to put the lid on her caterpillar (which I feed and give water), and so hunting for "Wooly" in our very large dining area is becoming about as common as finding streak marks in my sons underwear. I'm just hoping she doesn't "pet" the poor thing to death.

So, as you can tell, we (meaning I) am pretty primed for a pet. After all, we do own our home and have a good size yard, so there aren't a lot of excuses that remain. Well, other than that my sick body already struggles to keep up with the demands of the two mini-humans (and one husband-sized human) I take care of. And that pets are expensive. They are a commitment for many years. They require a lot of attention and care. Right, not much to stop us now.

But more to the point, even if I find myself back to taking walks with sacks of steamy dog poop in my hand, or even branch out to get my very own bunny to wake the neighbors, any pet of ours will remain simply and firmly-situated in their status as a pet -- an animal with limits on the time, money, and love they will receive.

Oh, I'm sure the time, money and love afforded it will be aplenty. But I hope that "plenty" will fall short of what we are willing to devote to other people in our lives. Helpless and innocent or not, people need our time, affection, and sympathy far more than any pet needs to be treated like a human.

If this makes you want to angrily argue about the value of animal lives, 
post on my friend's blog. She likes that sort of thing.