Pets vs. children: George Clooney’s girlfriend weighs in

This article courtesy of Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA,

George Clooney’s got a new-ish girlfriend. This one’s name is Elisabetta Canalis. She made waves recently after she spoke frankly about not wanting to have children. Her dogs are enough, she explained (which seemed like a good policy to me, given her choice of partners). But it turns out her dogged honesty wasn’t as popular with others: “Where’s our society headed,” they exclaimed, “if our ‘most eligible citizens’ prefer pets to real children?”

Which got me to thinking: What kind of society do we live in where people cannot speak frankly lest others get all judgy? Hmmm …

Anyhow, it seems to me that most people tend to have more human children than they truly deserve … not less. (How’s that for judgy?) But that’s not how Ms. Canalis’s hot and bothered detractors seem to feel. “How selfish,” they waxed on, as if choosing a non-human companion in the context of a lifestyle unsuited to human children might actually be an irresponsible thing.

After all, dogs can be handled by others when you need to shoot for a month or more in far-flung locales. Children? Unless you’ve got influence, dedication, and Jolie-Pitt funds … not so much. Prefer curling up with your dogs and a bottle of champagne rather than managing a little human’s incessant demands? (Sounds real nice right about now, actually.)

Nonetheless, the very real point remains: Are we becoming a nation of “me-first” people?

Citing our animal adoption habits, some say we absolutely are. In a recent press release distributed by pet nutraceutical manufacturer, Flexcin International, the following stats were in evidence:

In an online survey, Flexcin asked approximately 1,250 pet owners nationwide between the ages of 21-30, and roughly 61 percent said they would rather adopt an older dog instead of a brand new puppy. The majority of these respondents (89%) said their reason was that they felt they didn’t have the time or the patience to house-train a new puppy because of working multiple jobs, or other time challenges to their lives. More than half (54%) also said they are choosing to have dogs instead of children because they’re not sure they can handle the larger needs of a child.

None of this shocks me and I daresay it shouldn’t you, either. It makes sense that many humans in a modern society might: (a) choose not to bear and raise children; (b) choose animal over human company; and (c) take in older, more established pets due to their perceived stability.

If anything, it constantly shocks me that such an overwhelming percentage of people in our society are willing to spend so much time, energy and money on human babies. Sure, it’s traditional. But it’s absolutely NOT practical. Not like it is in Bangladesh, anyway.

This is probably why the “selfish” thing is such an issue. Traditionalists will often go as far as to decry the morals of those who shirk their breeding duties while citing “lifestyle choices.” Even those who don’t outright say so will sometimes feel funny about those among us whose pet-keeping ways contrast with their own child-rearing norms. (Trust me, this single mom hears variations on the theme in lots of not-so-subtle ways.)

But then, I’ve got my hackles up for this kind of thing. Because if there’s anything I cannot abide it’s a brainless foray into small-mindedness.

No wonder I felt I had to rush to the defense of Mr. Clooney’s plain-spoken paramour. After all, when women speak truth to power I have a hard time looking the other way. Especially when they look like Ms. Canalis. (Just saying.)

This article originally found here at

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