C. S. Lewis on Spoiling Pets

“If you need to be needed and if your family, very properly, decline to need you, a pet is the obvious substitute. You can keep it all its life in need of you.

“You can keep it permanently infantile, reduce it to permanent invalidism, cut it off from all genuine animal well-being, and compensate for this by creating needs for countless little indulgences which only you can grant.

“The unfortunate creature thus becomes very useful to the rest of the household; it acts as a sump or drain–you are too busy spoiling a dog’s life to spoil theirs.

“To be sure, it’s all very bad luck for the animal. But probably it cannot fully realize the wrong you have done it. Better still, you would never know if it did. The most down-trodden human, driven too far, may one day turn and blurt out a terrible truth. Animals can’t speak.

“Those who say, ‘The more I see of man the better I like dogs’–those who find in animals a relief from the demands of human companionship–will be well advised to examine their real reasons.”

–C. S. Lewis
The Four Loves

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