By: Gurpreet Kambo, Peak associate
I’m not an animal person.
Yes, I know this makes me sound like a monster. I don’t like dogs. I don’t like cats. I don’t like furry things, or things jumping all over me. I do like rocks though. They’re predictable and low-maintenance. They’re interesting. I used to collect and catalog rocks as a kid while pretending I was an archeologist. It was fun, and most importantly, they stayed where you put them.
Quarantine has entirely changed the way that we socialize with the members of our inner circle. I miss my friends, family, and partner, who lives in a different country. Zoom is the only way that we can connect now and my heart aches for it — it’s just not the same as being in the same space.
But Zoom calls have also allowed me to have the best experiences I’ve ever had with other people’s pets. While I miss seeing my friends in person, I don’t miss being barked at and jumped on by every dog in my social circle. I’ve come to acknowledge that some of these dogs have an aesthetic quality that some people consider “cute.” I can even recognize which ones are cute, so as to send pictures to my partner (a dog-lover, who for some reason will still date me). I think I’ve even found some of their antics amusing on camera, as they’re not coming into my personal space.
In my defence, I am concerned about animal welfare as a matter of principle. I’m a vegetarian for the same reason. I buy cruelty-free, free-range, non-animal tested products. I do think about the politics of animal welfare; I’m against puppy mills and I think people wanting dogs should adopt from the SPCA, as those dogs deserve homes. Just not my home.
It’s just that I don’t want to touch, hold or pet your weird furry, slobbery germ-infested thing. Many of my friends are animal and/or dog lovers. They always try to convince me that their pet is so cute, and once I get to know one, it’ll change my mind. But this hasn’t been my experience.
I previously lived with a roommate’s cat, for example. That cat and I had a five-year long living room détente where I ignored her existence and she ignored mine, and we were happy with this mutual understanding. I did clean up dead birds she caught and left lying in the living room as some kind of display of her hunting prowess.
Likewise, all the dogs on campus haven’t convinced me of the value of in-person interaction with pets either. One of my professors had a small and allegedly “cute” dog that was a fixture in his class. Said dog jumped onto my lap once and planted itself there. The rest of the class said “aww,” while I froze and recoiled, not wanting to touch this dog. Seeing my body language, a classmate quickly came to my rescue, though I feel like my reputation never recovered amongst my classmates. Unlike what many of my friends said, these experiences did not convince me to like pets.
However, I’ve found that on-camera, I don’t really mind pets. I may even, possibly kinda sorta like them a little. I don’t think I’m going to get a dog or cat anytime soon. But I’ve learned to find them OK over Zoom. It’s a small change.
But inanimate objects are still better.