02 July 2006

Part of the family

The disheartening news this week that Magazine Man's faithful dog Blaze has apparently been dogknapped (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) has had me feeling hope, concern, dismay and growing apprehension for Blaze's safety, a dog (and his family) for whom I have much affection even though we've never met. I've offered every suggestion, scenario, and lead I could think of, as well as what emotional support I could convey via email and comments. Given MM's anonymity and the fact I'm reasonably certain he doesn't live anywhere near me, that's all I can really do. Now there's just waiting and hoping.

In his latest update, MM wrote something that has me contemplative today. In a survey he'd recently seen, more than 75% of the people surveyed considered their pet a member of the family. He goes on to wonder how people define "family," and offers his own definition:
For me, it means simply this: If you are part of my family, there is nothing I will not do for you, there are NO lengths to which I will not go to help or comfort or support you. If you are in trouble, I will be there for you. If you are lost, I will come for you. If you are in mortal danger, I will use every resource at my disposal--including my own life--to save you.

I wonder how many of the people in that survey shared the same definition of "part of the family." And if that definition of "part of the family" was articulated to them, I wonder how many of those survey respondents would still have said yes, their pet was part of their family.

What about you? How would you answer?
I'm not sure how I would answer as the query raises more questions for me. Does the lengths to which you will go for "family" include all relations, all blood relatives, just one's immediate family (of which people can have 2)? Does it just apply to the people and animals you live with? I imagine there's always some prioritization that occurs. Or is it something one can even rationally decide in the moment?

I admire MM's commitment to doing everything he can to find Blaze, but I would hope that he wouldn't give his life for him. His wife and kids might respect the effort, but ultimately, I think they're better off with MM around.

I suppose I wonder how many people would actually go to the lengths he describes even for human family members. I'm sure most people would say they would, but I also suspect that MM's boy detective days, his journalism background and his connections as a magazine man yield possibilities that many people would never even think to try. Blaze is lucky to have him on his side.

One year ago at TTaT: Midnight confessions
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  1. Wow! that sure sounds... huh... "too much"!

    And you're right Claire, many people don't even know or care about families let alone contemplate doing any of what MM is talkin about!

    BTW, what did you finally do about your brother's B-day? si ce n'est pas indiscret!

  2. Ah, tu parles francais...mais je pense que je le savais (not sure about that final tense but you get the idea...and forgive me for skipping accents...)

    L'anniversaire de mon frere n'est pas arrive yet. It's actually still a month off. I'm still leaning towards just calling him on the day, but if we go down to visit around then (or during the throws of his family's bday month), then I may feel obligated to get them all something. We'll see.

  3. I love animals, but my family has lost pets and put down pets many times throughout the years. They have been beloved, but not human. Perhaps I have a lesser degree of sentimentality than most. I very, very sincerely hope that MM doesn't get injured/in trouble trying to search for Blaze.

  4. Merujo: It's interesting, I just started reading Cesar Millan's book (the dog whisperer guy) and his basic point is that dogs are dogs, not humans, and that Americans humanize their pets and often make them neurotic by doing so.