On Monday night (OK, Im a bit behind the pace) between episodes of Coronation Street, worth watching at the moment for Katherine Kellys wonderful comic portrayal of barm pot Becky, a serious documentary about the expense of keeping pets and how our furry friends will be affected by the recession was shown. If we follow the recommended care regime for our pets they cots a fortune it seems. Pets, like everything else are an industry in our self indulgent times.
The programme exposed all those twee, worthy programmes that ran throughout the 1990s as part of the great pet scam, a conspiracy between the Veterinary Society and pet food manufacturers in which the BBC were complicit. You remember the shows, aimed at kids they had titles like everybody loves pets
pets are wonderful
if you havent got loads of pets youre a loser and pets are better than people so kill your parents and get a puppy. There was even one terrible show in which Rolf Harris played his digeridoo at sick animals to make them whine pitifully.
It was all aimed at parting you from your hard earned. The shows went out at times when the kinds were home from school, mum was home from her part time job and Dad, who is much more likely to be totally unsentimental about animals, was still at work. The BBC would show footage of cuddly puppies, cutesy-pie kitten and wuvwy ikkle bunny wunnies thus triggering the kids pester power. Mum, soft hearted and sentimental would respond to the kids calls to come and see this and her heart would melt as the voiceover said and if you dont run out and get your kids lots of pets tomorrow this lovely little creature is going to be dismembered with a chain saw. Were Dad present he would simply grunt that no matter how loveable the little furry faces on the television were, all animals have an unlovable end and guess who would be left to clean up the mess. We men are often accused of being uncaring towards our wives but were not. Also puppies and kittens have an innate desire to shit in shoes and mens shoes, more odorous by far are a crap magnet.
Times were good, people were prosperous and the price of a few cans of pet food each week seemed trivial against the life of a cuddly creature.
BANG! Two puppies, three kittens and five wuvwy ikkle bunnies sold for an exorbitant price to the lady with the soft hear and the whining children.
Pet food was just the start of course. And gone are the days when the dog got leftovers, the cat got booted out to catch a mouse and the wuvwy ikkle bunny wabbit got a puff pastry crust and thirty minutes in a medium oven. Now there are special diets, supplements and treats that your pet musty have if you are not to be branded a bad pet owner which is worse than being known as a bad mother. ??Beyond feeding there are injections, worm treatments and constant visits to the vets because although animals are seldom ill they always have very expensive symptoms which were all regularly pointed out by the television branch of the pet industry. And there is dental treatment thanks to all those treats the good pet owner must give their pets. You have to wonder how animals survived and evolved in the wild without humans to pamper them.
Yes keeping pets these days can be an expensive business. And thanks to the ability of pathetic little furry faces to guilt trip us people (well women) who are normally prudent and thrifty are bankrupting themselves to provide care for the crippled, dysfunctional animals they have been sold by unscrupulous dealers.
One woman had spent £8000 on trying to have her dog’s dodgy legs cured. She had been told by the dealer its nothing, hell grow out of it. In another case a whistleblowing vet told how he had been sacked from a practice for not referring a pet to the animal dentist for a scrape and polish (£300 you can get a human descale and polish for less) even though the animals teeth were perfectly sound.
It is all a con of course, we lavish love, care and money on our pets and they just die on us. If they avoid getting run over, eaten by bigger animals, killed by incompetent, greedy vets, or put in the tumble dryer they die on us anyway. Pets have suicidal tendencies. We had a long haired Tabby cat once that climbed in the tumble dryer for a kip, snuggled down in the laundry and was snoozing away when Mrs. T switched the dryer on. The cat survived but spent the next three weeks walking round looking like a tumbleweed on legs.
Yes animals are costly and often their own and by extension their owners worst enemy. Why do we get conned into spending so much on them. I asked my wife this as she is the pet lover in the house. She thought carefully and answered: Kids love animals and I like to have them around because theyre amusing. But now our income is a lot lower than when you were working it comes down to a choice between a pet and expensive shoes and thats always going to be a no brainer.
A poem on the perils of owning pets, Man’s Best Friend (and particularly puppies.
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