Guest Author - Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
Popular wisdom holds that a woman’s maternal instinct is an inborn, naturally occurring feeling. Maternal instinct is an imagined, ineffable bond between women and their children. Nevertheless, many women opt to pass on procreation and instead choose to direct their nurturing needs toward domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, horses, and birds. As a friend once told me, if you’re contemplating having children, first try adopting a dog and taking care of it a while. If your desire to have a child persists, adopt another dog and take care of both of them. If you succeed at providing two dogs with a loving home, essential training, and regular exercise, then you are probably ready to add a baby to your already sizeable family. For many women, however, owning a pet does more than enough to satisfy their nurturing needs.
Animals with childfree owners probably think themselves the luckiest animals in the world; they can always count on being their owners’ top nurturing priorities. These days, such animals are commonly referred to as Furkids. Let me make it perfectly clear that the childfree do in fact realize that Furkids are not human beings, even though many Furkids live lavish lifestyles. Why shouldn’t they? They are God’s creatures, too, and as such, deserve to live healthy and happy lives. The fact is that Furkids can be wonderful companions for senior citizens and couples without kids; they might even turn out to be best friends. “Dog is man’s best friend” needn’t apply only to men.
The need to care for other living creatures is part of the maternal instinct, which is not necessarily fulfilled by procreation alone. Many individuals without children feel no void in their lives whatsoever because of the love and companionship animals provide them. Like children, animals such as dogs and cats require a great deal of love and affection. Caring for them is a long-term responsibility. You should consider the decision to take in a Furkid a permanent one, not a testing phase to see if you like dogs or cats. Furkids have feelings like humans do, and they consider their homes places where an extended family lives and takes care of them.
Animals such as dogs and cats make great pets whether you have kids or not. Shelters across the United States take in approximately eight million unwanted and stray animals each year; almost half of these animals must be euthanized because good homes are not found for them. (Euthanasia is the leading cause of death for both cats and dogs.) If you are a current dog or cat owner, please remember this sad statistic and practice having your pet spayed or neutered. If you do not own a pet, remember that those who do have taken on a weighty responsibility and regard their Furkids as family.