Did you ever have that moment... when you suddenly realize that someone doesn't like your pet... and you then you have the follow-up realization that you don't like that person very much either? Or is that just me?
I'm not talking about a friend who isn't wild about dogs not wanting your enormous greyhounds to crawl into his or her lap. I'm not talking about someone's kid who is frightened of animals and gets scared every time one of your pets comes into the room. Or someone who is allergic to cats and is sitting on the edge of your couch praying to heaven that their Benadryl is going to be enough to get them through the evening and please oh god don't let a cat jump on me.
I'm talking about someone who very clearly takes a dislike to your pet's personality, or something about him/her specifically. It's only happened to me a couple of times, and I find myself wondering if it was my pet that the person was objecting to, or if it was ME that they were objecting to, and criticizing my beloved animal because it was less confrontational then criticizing me. Or if they were reacting negatively to my level of devotion to said pet because they found it offensive.
Regardless of their reasoning, I have taken several steps back from people that I feel didn't like my animals, whether they overtly said something or if I was able to glean that information from actions, tone, posture, eye-rolls. If you can't even be polite to an animal that you are visiting, or can't even be polite to me when the topic comes up (as it frequently will; deal with it) then what good are you to me?
If you are critical about, or impolite to, my dogs and cats, I am not going to react well. These dogs and cats, all of them: Argos, Maera, Charlotte, Annie, Bit, and even foster-cat Tom, they are Very Important to Me. They are the ones that cuddle with me when I'm sad, even if I'm dampening their fur with my tears.
They are the ones that will sit beside me and listen to me without judgment.
They are the ones that are in the room when I'm talking to my husband about how much you've hurt my feelings.
They are the ones that are the first to know when something "big" happens in my life, whether that's the death of a family member or a raise at work. Sometimes they are the only ones to know (besides my super-supportive husband.)
They are the ones that are unabashedly delighted to see me every time I come home.
They are the ones that know ALL of my hopes and dreams, and never, ever say anything designed to destroy those hopes and dreams.
They are the ones that have put their hope in me.
They are the ones that admire me without a trace of their own ego getting in the way.
Don't get me wrong, they're not perfect, and I know it better than anyone. Sometimes they're naughty and steal food from the countertops, trashcans, and catbowls. Sometimes they tell me off. Sometimes they sulk. Sometimes it's very clear that they're mad at me. Sometimes they disobey me and force me to go into "discipline mode."
Just like any other family, we have our ups and downs. But that's just it. They are my family. They are the closest that I will ever come to having children of my own. Any maternal instinct that I possess is poured into raising them, spending time with them, taking care of them. And whether you agree with it or not, I view them as my children. And I will react to unfair criticism of them just like a mother with human children would.
And yup. I know that one reason that they don't engage in "asshattery" (what I call your misdeeds when you're not around) is that they are animals, with limited understanding of human ways. Though I am inclined to believe that their knowledge is not as limited as their detractors would like to think.
Don't make me choose between my beloved pets and you. You wouldn't like the results. The pets will win. Every time. Don't like it? Too bad.