„My dog loves me“, optionally also any other so-called pet, „Loyal and affectionate and unbreakable“ it says. But is that really the case?
My dogs are with me. They are there. They are always there. I can’t imagine it any other way. Was there life without her? Of course, it has, but what do I know about it. It seems to me that it would never have been any different because their presence enriches my life. Wordless, but always turned to. I took responsibility when I brought her into my home and my life. It wasn’t their choice. They didn’t have to decide anything, they had to let it happen.
Choosing to take a non-human companion is to do something over someone else’s head. And he has no choice but to let it happen. There’s nothing to sugarcoat about that. It’s a dictatorial decision. Having children and having non-human companions is ultimately a deeply self-centered choice. I alone decide. In the case of children, there is a second person, but the person who is affected by the decision never makes the decision. Therefore, this responsibility is an all-encompassing one. I have to take responsibility for and carry my decision. Every moment. Nevertheless, I imagine that they love me, just as people think they are allowed to take other living beings for themselves. Can there be a love that knows no freedom? Can this be love that has no choice? Can I seriously ask to be loved, even though I have said that it has to be like this for the other person? And yet I imagine it because I want to imagine it. But not only because of that, but also and above all because I am a human being and as such act like a master over my fellow creatures. Can that really be love and not just taking and dominating?
Our domesticated fellow creatures are masters of adaptation. They accept what I decide for them without complaint. It seems like it’s no better or worse than any other decision. They live their lives with all the intensity they can. Jumping around me as I dress and grab the leashes, letting them know it’s time for a walk. Are wide awake and alert when I pick up the food bowls to fill them. It is the best of all opportunities for them that they take advantage of. I see something that we humans very rarely can.
To live day by day, moment by moment, in all simplicity and clarity. This is also the reason why so many pets are abused. It is man’s envy of this ability to be and stay in life until the last moment. They give us more than we could ever give them. A fixed point in life. Loyalty unto death. They are there, as a matter of course, do not betray us and do not want us any harm. We also abuse them in ways that we abuse them as substitutes for human attachment partners. They supposedly loved us unconditionally, let’s call it that. It is not unconditional, but an absence of choice. And if you don’t have a choice, you can’t choose love, because one of the basic requirements of love is freedom. I have that freedom, they don’t. Is it still love, one of its rich facets? It is one-sided, monopolizing and depriving of autonomy. This is what love can look like. Or is that word wrong?
Consumption does not only happen with our non-human fellow creatures. We also practice it with children, partners or whoever is in the situation of not having a choice. We meet them everywhere. The prerequisite for it to work is that the will of the defeated, co-opted and oppressed is broken. For once, we don’t know any speciesism. This is also why there are so many broken, dependent, docile creatures in our society. Because we call dependency and attachment love and think we are doing our best. Which is true to a certain extent, because the one who dominates is always doing what is best for himself. But love is not. Not the slightest trace. That makes my responsibility to them all the heavier. Of course, it would be foolish to think that I could give them freedom, because they never learned it and wouldn’t want it anymore. I made a decision for them years ago that I now have to and want to wear. If they are not allowed and able to lead an autonomous life, then they at least deserve to lead a dignified and respectful life in which they are allowed at least the piece of freedom that is possible for a domesticated non-human creature within a civilization-degenerated human world give. That’s the least and actually the only thing I can give them back.