Why You Shouldn’t Sneak Pets, an Animal’s Perspective

Many children aren’t allowed to have pets because their parents don’t want the extra expense of supporting an animal or they don’t think the kids are mature enough to raise a pet. I just watched an old episode of “Malcolm in the Middle” where Dewey snuck a dog into the house and tried to hide him from Lois and Hal. Leaving aside the obvious implications of disobeying his parents and the toll a hidden animal would take on personal property, I’d like to address the more real concerns this sort of behavior raises: the negative effect this would have on the animal.

Let’s assume it’s a dog, like in the television episode. If you try to hide a dog from your parents, it’s going to have to stay in your room most of the time, otherwise your parents would see it and you’d get in trouble. Now, if you’re going to school or to work most of the time, the dog is going to be alone in a confined space throughout the majority of the day. Dogs aren’t the brightest animals in the world, but they do get lonely. Being alone in such a small area for such a long period of time must be stressful and depressing for the animal. Furthermore, when you finally do get home, the dog is going to be so excited to see you that he’ll likely bark and run around the room from the excitement of it, behavior you’ll have to strongly discourage or else the dog will attract your parents’ attention. He’ll also probably have to use the bathroom. Over time, the dog will become a depressed, unaffectionate, constipated mess.

Feeding the dog is another challenge. You can’t exactly buy a bag of dog food, because that would arouse suspicion, so you’ll instead have to sneak table scraps and other miscellaneous food whenever you’re able to. It’s going to be next to impossible to maintain a balanced diet for the animal, and he’ll almost always still be hungry. Hungry dogs aren’t happy dogs. They get irritable or whiny. Sometimes they even become snappy and dangerous. So now you’ve got a dog who mopes around in silence most of the time, starving in your room, until at last you return, whereupon he can’t even express his excitement. Instead he has to beg and beg for the least bit of food and a trip outside to use the bathroom. He’ll never get any exercise because it’s hard enough to find an opportunity to take him into the yard to pee.

This is no quality of life for an animal, and I haven’t even addressed the eventualities of the dog getting sick and needing to visit a veterinarian. It’s not sustainable either, because the dog will eventually be discovered and taken away to be rehabilitated. I know that most of my readership are above the age of irresponsibility and few, if any, of them still live with their parents, but these are the sorts of thoughts that cross my mind when I’m watching TV shows. And who knows? Maybe these lessons are applicable other places in life.

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