Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rent A Rover, Rent A Politician

For any of you who missed the recent news of our new addition, Dexter (shame on you). There is an interesting development -- or, rather, two -- that pertain to our little green offspring.

First, through a friend and some good fortune and some sheer word-of-mouth blabbering (is there any other kind?), we are pleased to welcome a second addition: his name is Brooklyn and he's as friendly and happy as his brother, Dex. They look very much alike so I suppose I should wonder what Kaia's been doing while I'm off at work every day ;-)

Onto more somewhat serious business. In the past, I've waxed philosophical -- at best -- about the government's interference in our daily lives. At some point in time, I've gotten on the soap box regarding marijuana, seat belts, and, after watching "Super-Size Me" (the Morgan Spurloch documentary about the fast food industry) I weighed in on governmental restriction and/or supervision of big (crappy) food chains like Mickey D's, Wendy's, Burger King, etc. And let's not forget the whole trans fats debate (New York City and now California -- the entire state -- is going trans-fat free).

However, while I could directly address Barney Frank's recent suggestion that casual marijuana users not be penalized, I'll hold off doing so because there are still some issues to be ironed out in that regard.

There is, however, something which caught my eye -- and my ire -- that tangentially speaks to our new houseguests, Dex and Little B...

Apparently, not to be outdone in the realm of overzealous legislators with far too little TV time under their belts, this story floated in Newsweek about "Pet Rentals."

The concept of pet rentals is simple: you contact a pet rental agency and subscribe to the service. They screen you to make sure you're not a psycho or a nut and will be able to care for an animal, and then, once you are approved, you choose from the selection of pets and pay for however long you'd like to rent a pet.

Essentially, it's sort of like Zipcar except the hourly rentals aren't cars but instead are dogs, cats or other animals.

Kaia and I talked about doing a pet rental to get a cat. She can't have pets in her building in SF, so once she's a full-on New Yorker the first thing she'll likely do is get a kitten. We haven't spent much time worrying about who will watch the kitty when we/she hits the West Coast, but overall that kind of thing isn't too worrisome; things have a way of working out. But as for the concept of pet rentals, I have been thinking a bit about the whole concept and, I must confess, it pisses me off just a tad.

Aside from "testing the waters" like we were considering, ie doing a pet rental for a day or two to see how it would go having a cat floating around here, there are some people who either can't keep a pet long-term (their buildings prohibit pets) or their lifestyle (work or travel or travel for work) prevents them from being full-time pet owners. So, in theory, the concept of pet rental makes it so these people too can have a furry friend without the furry hassle of full-time ownership. The plus is that many of the "rentable" animals are otherwise likely to be euthanized or abandoned, so in theory the concept of pet rental may help save the lives of otherwise forgotten animals.

The negative side, of course, is that "renting" an animal, to me, seems really crass and low-end. What we were looking to do was simply to get a sense of how I would deal with having a cat around: we're talking not simply about whether I would enjoy having a cat (I would, so long as the dog can hang with him/her). The main issue, beyond allergies -- which I have -- is whether having a cat would be too much beyond having a dog as well.

However, for people whose lives -- whether by building policy or their jobs -- prevent them from owning a pet, I would suggest making changes to allow for a pet if it's that important. The problem, at least for me, is that pet rental is almost like prostituion. Granted, I'm not suggesting that people are doing anything improper with the rented animals; however, the whole idea of having a pet is to enjoy the companionship and the sense of responsibility that you get taking care of another living entity. The concept of "renting" something that has a soul just bothers me, even if it is for pure, positive reasons. If you really want a pet, keep in mind that change affects animals much in the way it affects humans; consider how you'd feel being shuttled from one place to another with regularity without having any control over where you were going or with whom you were going to spend time (sort of like freshman year in college, only with less sex). You never have a place to call home, and you never get to spend enough time with anyone to get comfortable with anyone, so you might as well be a living, breathing fashion accessory or optional add-on to someone else's life.

Not good.

The answer is, of course, for anyone that really feels the need to have a pet, get a roommate to insure someone can look after your pet when you're working late or in another city; or get another gig where you're not spending five days a week in other places. And if it's a matter of living in a building where you're prohibited from having a pet, the solution is simple: move.

As much as the concept of pet rental seems really superficial and plastic to me, the other aspect that seems as ridiculous as pet rental is crass is the potential interference from legislators. I understand legislators need to justify the fact that the majority thereof are inept buffoons whose lives are largely unfulfilled and empty; however, the proliferation of invasive laws -- including mandating seat belt usage -- is a problem for me. Do seat belts save lives? Sure. Is wearing one a good idea? Absolutely. Should the government force us to use them? Nope.

As for pet rental, as much as I think it's a shitty way for a dog or cat to live his or her life, I also think the government is, yet again, spending time meddling in the affairs of people who can handle their own lives without government interference.

Part of the process is for us to communicate with one another; I am sure some people reading this will not hesitate to tell me to mind my business. But I'd much rather share my opinion with other people than for all of us have to listen to some egalitarian, anal-retentive representative from Iowa telling me what I can and cannot do. There's nothing wrong with governmental restriction and protection; but all I want from the government is to be protected from maniacal escaped lunatics, crime and aggression from other nations. I think I can and should be allowed to decide whether or not I want to rent the Taco Bell Chihauha.

In other words, it's not that I disagree with the government's position, I just resent the fact that we've got so many issues to be addressed and pet rental is what our elected representatives have chosen to discuss.

Put another way, as Andrew Dice Clay once opined, "Nobody tells me what to do. Not even me."

1 comment:

Kaia said...


I want one!