Cats live for 10-20 years. Dogs live for 10-15. Human beings in this country live to almost 80.
Doesn’t something seem a little off there? The two most popular pets in the United States will barely make it two decades. Theoretically, and many times in practice, a person could own one dog at a time over the course of his or her life and at the end, he or she would have acquired eight different labradoodles.
Eight times an owner has to watch their dog die. Eight times they have to question whether to get another. Eight times they have to, in all probability, be the one who makes the call to euthanize a near-member of their family. Why do we put ourselves through this? Why has humanity chosen some of the most transient of animals to call our pets? You know what would make much more sense? Owning tortoises.
Think about it. A tortoise gets to practically outlive its owner. We wouldn’t have to deal with the pain and suffering of a pet’s death over and over throughout our lives. Are they as cuddly as tabby cats? Maybe not. Are they as loyal as beagles? I’ve never known tortoises to be disloyal. Are they the perfect pet in every other way? Yes yes a thousand times yes.
Okay, not every other way, per se, but think of the long life – 80 years of the same pet. Knowing that tortoise intimately; every action and reaction. You’d be best friends with your pet and have a closeness that cats and dogs just couldn’t compare to.
Or maybe you’d get sick of it. Hmph. Eighty years is a long time to be with anyone and anything – person or otherwise. It would turn into the biggest commitment of one’s life – forget marriage or raising a kid; turtle is forever.
Maybe that’s part of the reason why cats and dogs (and fish, hermit crabs, etc.) are the perfect pet. Their ephemeral nature and temporary status are great for the commitment-phobe in all of us. It’s actually nice to adopt a pet that won’t last 50 years. It’s a little bit freeing for people.
And you know what, the pain and suffering you go through when a pet dies is worth it for what you and that cat or dog get in return.
Forget the logic and reasoning behind buying a tortoise as a pet. Forget that cats and dogs will die and leave us heartbroken. What it boils down to is that human beings generally love cats and dogs, so much so that we’re willing to see them die after a life of loving friendship. They’re inherently adorable, lovable, and brimming with personality that other animals just don’t have. Sure, there’s probably a scientific reason out there as well, but for right now, that’ll suffice.
Cats and dogs as pets makes complete sense. We suffer at the end because it was worth it right up until that point. Isn’t that the way life works?