While revising my story for the upcoming anthology Pets in Space, I’m thinking about pets of all kinds.
Pets are everywhere in this country and probably other Western countries too. (From what I’ve read, even in China, where people have long been more likely to eat dogs than befriend them, a culture of dog-owning is showing up in the cities; and some folks in Muslim countries are going against the cultural grain to have pet dogs too.)
Dogs seem to have the most elaborate culture of any. Their care, feeding and other aspects of ownership occupy rather a lot of bandwidth in our society. Cats are probably close behind and horses – a lot fewer of them, but much more infrastructure per animal – a close third and then maybe birds. But there are accommodations for pet rodents, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, arachnids, and insects. (Yes, insects. A young friend of mine had a pet Madagascar Hissing Cockroach – a rather magnificent creature. When I was a kid I had a pet praying mantis named Monty in a terrarium. I fed Monty cabbage butterflies from the back yard: I’d offer Monty dinner by holding the butterfly by the wings. Monty would sway back and forth and then snatch the butterfly with his forelegs. I don’t remember sticking around to watch Monty devour one. The ones who got away fluttered and perched around the terrarium and Monty got to hunt them.
The U.S. post office has just issued Forever stamps celebrating pets, with quite nice renditions of creatures ranging from horses to hermit crabs.