McGregor Says: Life lessons learned from pets

I get distressed and angry at the rise in stories about animal abuse and abandonment. I am starting to agree with the theory that rather than licensing pets, we should be licensing prospective owners and have them wear the tags to show that they have passed the test that allows them to look after animals.

Some of the tests they would have to pass would include sitting in a hot car for 60 minutes, being chained to a building without water for a day, and being pushed out of a moving car into a ditch. If they could experience these indignities, it may spark some sort of compassion and feelings for the animals in their charge.

Of course, not all pet or animal owners are disrespectful or neglectful. Most people make their pets part of the family and the bad stories make the news.

In fact, research shows that the pet industry is one of the fastest growing segments of business in North America with food products, toys, clothes and grooming services topping the list.

Here is an example. My son phoned me recently to say he needed me to help him take one of his cats, Atlas, to the vet. I asked what the emergency was. Did it get hit by a car, did it fall, or did it eat something bad? “No, dad, he has seasonal allergies and his breathing is raspy.”

I counted to 10 and bit my tongue. I was aware that some folks are allergic to cats but not that cats had allergies. Sort like having a cow that is lactose intolerant. But they don’t have kids and I knew their cats were important to them.

He carried the cat out wrapped in a towel.

“Where is your pet carrier?” I asked. “He gets anxious if we try to put him in that,” was the reply.

I counted to 10 and bit my tongue. We arrived at the vet for his appointment and things were going well until an old Bassett hound let out a mournful moan and increased Atlas’ anxiety. I was sure I was going to have to take my son for stitches, but the scratches didn’t break the skin.

The vet took Atlas for a shot and gave him some oxygen then explained that she would give them a prescription then after a month he could come back for an inhaler and he should get an infant mask to administer the drugs from the puffer.

My tongue was now almost bitten through and I was counting to 10 and saying the ‘Serenity Prayer’ at the same time. I could only think of the ‘shot’ my Dad would have given a sick cat on the farm.

But in the end, I am proud that my kids all have healthy, happy animals and they treat them with love and respect, because I know they will treat people the same way.

At least that’s what McGregor says.