As usually is the case, today’s Open Forum generated several Comment of the Day contenders, and I will get to them in due course. I did not want too much time to lapse, however, before giving this lovely comment by JutGory its due. The topic was gratuitous and perhaps self-serving kindness to a dying dog who couldn’t possibly appreciate it’s details, or really have a “bucket list.”
Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: Dying Dog Ethics.
And, just because I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, I’m dedicating Jut’s COTD to Rugby, our universally loved and loving Jack Russell Terrier who left us last summer.
This is complex, but I think your confusion, flumoxxation, etc., is the result of over-anthropomorphization on all fronts.
Is the dog being used? Sure. The dog is being anthropomorphized. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
Kant said that it was bad to abuse animals, not because of the harm that we did them, but because our abuse of them harmed us by (essentially) desensitizing us to abuse.
The flip side would seem to hold true. Being kind to animals is good, not because they are deserving of kindness, but because it makes us more kind.
As for the dog, it is good because what dog would not want such attention. Take away the stupid bucket-list and the dog does not care. The only thing on a dog’s bucket list is attention. Give that to the dog, any dog (mostly), even Rugby (18 hour walks, games of fetch, and messing with you answering the door), and that dog will be happy.
But, we need the anthropomophization too. A columnist, I think it was Ellen Goodman, wrote an article about putting a dog to sleep. The takeaway was that the greatest gift that pets give us is that they teach us to deal with death, hopefully how to deal with the death of our parents.
I remember Rusty’s death, and Fred’s, Tabby’s, Spike’s, Sabrina’s, Hobo’s, Paddington’s, Ashley’s, Lexi’s, Claire’s, Felisity’s, and Schrodinger’s. My parents are still alive, but I have learned to grieve. My children have Ginger, Pepper, and Xena to prepare them. They still vaguely remember Claire and Schrodinger, but their deaths will not affect them.
So, I don’t fault the humans here either. “Be kind to dumb animals.” That is a good thing. It makes us better.
So, your alarms are ringing because people are treating things (animals) in ways they should not be treated. But, the dog is happier, and the people are better for it (even if there is a PR element to it). All in all, it makes people better (much like Christmas), even if it will not last..
So, shut off the alarms and enjoy the way animals make us better people, so that we make animals happier in their own way.