OK, first off, I have no problem with the presenters of My Pet and Me. Or the programme really. My argument is larger, more fundamental, and it is with Cbeebies almost non-stop pro-pet propaganda. My Pet and Me, Meet the Pups, Meet the Kittens, Pet week, Topsy and Tim’s rabbit, Waffle the Wonder Dog, Pet Week, and on and on. And yes, the Cbeebies website does have a page where they tell you five things to think about before you decide to get a pet, but none of those five things are: the world is heating up at a terrifying rate and maybe, just maybe, more mouths to feed isn’t the answer. Pets mean more plastic needs processing, more food needs to be grown (or raised), transported, packaged, then disposed of when it has been shat out again. If we are going to solve the problem of climate change (and let’s face it, we’re not, but if we are) we are going to have to make difficult decisions. Make sacrifices. (Not literally, obvs. I want no doggy deaths, no moggy martyrs.) But a move away from pet ownership is as important as weening ourselves off eating meat, mass car ownership and long haul flights.
Cbeebies isn’t helping.
And I know what you are thinking, “But Ben, having a pet teaches children about caring and introduces them to the concept of death.” Well, to be blunt, my best friend died when I was fourteen, and believe me when I tell you that the loss of my hamster a few years earlier did absolutely fuck all to soften the blow. Maybe it would have been easier if I had previously lost a chinchilla or something, but you know what, I fucking doubt it. There is no preparing for death. You just have to deal with it the best you can when it happens. Like when the earth’s temperature rises another couple of degrees, and the seas rise, and the weather changes, huge populations of pollinating insects are wiped out, crops fail, food becomes scarce and you are forced to eat Waffle, your wonder dog. You’ll make the most of a bad situation. You’ll struggle on. It’s just what we do.