Dog mum by marriage

Natasha Moore wrestles with the tough question: Is the amount of money we spend on our pets a moral issue?

I recently became a dog person, by marriage. It’s going pretty well (with some hiccups), thanks for asking. I’m adjusting to the ubiquitous hair, and the extreme attention I receive while eating. I even pick up poop sometimes.

I do draw the line at being called a “dog mum”. Finn may resemble a toddler in certain respects – one weighing more than me, which complicates things – but I am not his parent. I get that “owner” feels wrong too, though. We are his “humans”, I guess?

I don’t know if it’s joining the pet club – not that it’s an exclusive club; Australia has more pets than people, 61% of households have one – but I recently read an article about kidney transplants for cats (!) and found myself reconsidering a few things.

Would you pay US$15,000 to save your cat’s life? That’s how much a kidney transplant costs in America. My initial reaction was, this is obscene; especially in a world where most humans don’t receive this level of medical care.

But as one owner complained: “I wouldn’t think of saying to somebody, ‘Wow, that’s an expensive car.’ But people seem pretty free to say, ‘Wow, you spent a lot of money on a cat.’ ”

I’m committed, as a Christian, to the idea that humans are worth more than animals; also, that we owe care and respect to animals. But if I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at someone buying a more expensive car than they need, or taking a round-the-world trip, why feel judgy about someone shelling out to extend the life of a creature that brings joy and connection to their whole household?

Pets aren’t kids. But like kids, they confront us with our own priorities. What do you value most? Where your money goes is a big clue.