Prince William’s Top Priorities: Wife, Baby, and… Dog?

Prince William’s Top Priorities: Wife, Baby, and… Dog?

I am as gushing and glowing as the next mom over the birth of His Royal Highness, Prince George of Cambridge. And I am a big fan of the Royal Mensch Prince William. So I am sorry that the JewishMOM.com response to his first official interview is going to be a gripe about something the Prince said that really got on my JewishMOM nerves. You could call it my pet peeve– literally.

Here’s the offending excerpt from Prince William’s interview with Max Foster:

MAX FOSTER:
So you’re up at night, you’re pretty tired.
PRINCE WILLIAM:
A little bit. Not as much as Catherine. But, um, you know, she’s doing a fantastic job.
MAX FOSTER:
How is she? Okay?
PRINCE WILLIAM:
Yes, very well.
PRINCE WILLIAM:
For me, Catherine, and now little George are my priorities. And Lupo. Um, and so-
MAX FOSTER:
I was going to ask you about [your dog] Lupo. How’s Lupo coping?
PRINCE WILLIAM:
He’s coping all right, actually. As a lot of people know who have got dogs and bringing a newborn back, they take a little bit of time to adapt, but, no he’s been all right so far. He’s been slobbering sort of around the house a bit, so he’s perfectly happy.

Catherine, little George, cocker spaniel Lupo. What?!

Prince William, Princess Catherine, and their cocker spaniel Lupo

Prince William, Princess Catherine, and their cocker spaniel Lupo


I know that people love their dogs. Some love their dogs a great deal.

But I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend over the last few years, which was highlighted through a few strange things that I heard and saw on my recent 10-day trip to America:

1. An elderly relative with no grandchildren showed me photos of her “grand-dog.” She was a little bit joking, but mostly not.

2. I noticed this bumper sticker:
dog sticker

3. And this one:

dog sticker 2

4. And to top it off, this is the movie the woman sitting next to me (and therefore I) was watching on the flight home…

It looks to me like society is crossing a line in the relationship between humans and animals: dogs are no longer considered only beloved pets– they are considered family members.

In his must-read editorial “Dogs, Strangers, and God,” Dennis Prager writes:

“Participants in [a recent] study were told a hypothetical scenario in which a bus is hurtling out of control, bearing down on a dog and a human. Which do you save? With responses from more than 500 people, the answer was that it depended: What kind of human and what kind of dog?

“Everyone would save a sibling, grandparent or close friend rather than a strange dog. But when people considered their own dog versus people less connected with them — a distant cousin or a hometown stranger — votes in favor of saving the dog came rolling in. And an astonishing 40 percent of respondents, including 46 percent of women, voted to save their dog over a foreign tourist.”

Dogs are dogs. And people are people. And IMHO, relating to a dog like it is a person or even one’s child is yet another symptom of an everything-goes society gone totally overboard.

What do YOU think JewishMOM? Do you agree that society is crossing the line, or do you think I’m overreacting?

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26 comments

  1. Overreacting, for sure. You’ve never had a “fur-child?” Go spend some time at your local animal shelter, and you’ll be singing a different tune.

    Even HaShem punishes Balam for bringing harm to his donkey. Halachally, we are to be kind to animals, and as parents who had fertility struggles, bringing kittens into our home gave us something to nurture. They were indeed our first children!

    • Shelli….Wonderful answer!

    • Same here! During my 20 years of infertility, my dogs gave me valuable training in how to be patient, how to baby proof, and how to train with love and not fear. By the time I was finally able to adopt my daughter, I was MUCH better prepared to be a mother!

      Now that my daughter is becoming an independent teen, my little chihuahua lets me fuss on her and baby her the way that would make my daughter do “Eeeeew! Mom, quit it!”

      My motto has always been “People before Pets”, but pets most definitely have a place in my life. People with pets live longer, have lower blood pressure, and tend to survive trauma and stress much better than people who don’t. I dog or cat doesn’t care if you are needy for a while if you’re going through a hard time.

      All of Hashem’s creatures have a job to do, and for me, their job is to provide comfort, companionship, make me laugh, and to bark at burglars. What more can you ask, in exchange for a bowl of food every morning!

  2. I don’t see it as a problem. The dog still came after his wife and baby–what would have been better to come next? I think it is good to be compassionate to animals and to nurture them with love, as long as there is a clear distinction between actual family members and the pets in terms of morality and priority.

    I think having a pet to be attached to and nurture can be very important especially for childless couples and “empty nesters”. My father-in-law is extremely attached to his little dog, but that doesn’t prevent him from leaving her behind to come visit his grandchildren…

  3. My question for you would be: what does “a beloved pet” mean to you that doesn’t involve a pet being a member of your family? Personally, I think people who treat pets as children (dressing them up in play clothes-as opposed to practical weather wear-, actually referring to them as children, etc) is a sign of a person being self-absorbed rather than any kind of statement about the pet. It’s a sign of a larger problem that all the “things” around you are a reflection of you rather than an independent being. So in other words, I think these people are actually treating pets as objects, not a family member. And I doubt that behavior is limited to pets. I believe it is the other extreme of the pet owner who ties up a dog in the backyard and forgets it exists. The dog is an object there to serve you, rather than an individual with physical wants and emotional needs.

    As the owner of two dogs, I have found that it is inevitable that there are some correlations between children and dogs. I came to dogs as an adult but have owned cats all my life. Cats are so independent and can be left alone for long periods of time, sometimes even a week or more. I can’t plan a trip to the grocery store or out of state without taking my dogs into consideration. I have to take greater care of their elimination needs and clean up after them. The affection from a dog is also unique and similar to the way a child idolizes its parent. If someone doesn’t make a deep emotional connection to that relationship, I think that’s also a sign of something wrong that probably overflows into one’s relationships with people. It shows a profound lack of empathy, in my opinion.

    As for the bumper stickers, I think most dog owners would want to be the person their dog thinks they are. They see only the very best in us and give us every benefit of the doubt. They truly embody judging favorably. And the honor sticker one is just meant to make fun of the stickers about children. It’s satire, not a serious statement (or so I would hope).

    I just don’t understand why you would imply that a pet can’t be on William’s list of family priorities. A pet owner has accepted responsibility for a life. Those who don’t prioritize their pets are the same ones who give up a “beloved” pet of 5 years because they are having a hard time finding a pet-friendly rental after looking at only 2 complexes. Or choosing to get rid of a pet because a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t like it. As an example: I had shadchanim on SYAS regularly try to set me up with people who wrote in their profile that they don’t like pets. I openly listed that I owned 3 pets and was looking for a match who would enjoy spending time with 2 large dogs. When I contacted the shadchanim to explain that I rejected their matches because they clearly didn’t take the time to read either profile, they repeatedly responded, “Well, if it were a good match, you’d get rid of them.” Sadly, I know people in the frum community who have, and they are no longer my friends because I believe that reflects a very bad character. When you accept responsibility for a life, you should take it seriously. Would Hashem really ask you to put another creature in deadly danger to match you to your beshert? I would argue that person is NOT beshert but the single’s priorities are out of whack (a problem not limited to the pet-owning single community). Pets who are “re-homed,” assuming you can even find a new home, are very likely to end up in the shelter. They’re also likely to end up in an experimental facility rather than a home. I know of at least two cases where (former) friends euthanized pets without medical reason because the animal became “inconvenient” for apartments or fiances. Is that in line with Torah values? I would adamantly say no, though I’m sure people would argue with me.

    That’s my two cents. As a side note, I want to smack people who refer to me as “[pet name]’s mom.” Nothing has emerged from my vagina yet, much less one of those big furry things over there. Being a member of the family should be a healthy relationship, like any other familial relationship. Those relationships require healthy boundaries and a lot of love, but they can be just as dysfunctional as any other family relationship. In other words, I think you’re reading way too into an off-hand (and reasonable) comment from an animal lover. Let’s talk when he only refers to him Pookie and dresses him in pink tutus. Or, heaven forbid, finds a way to carry him in a purse.

    • I agree with everything you said, except for the last line. ;-P

      My rescued puppy mill chihuahua has a ligament disorder that makes it hard for her to walk very far. Not only that, she’s terrified of being outdoors, because she’d been trapped in a kennel her whole life. For her, my purse is the safest place for her to be.

      I only carry her when SHE needs to be somewhere, not because I need to take her everywhere. (Aren’t our purses heavy enough already?)

    • Well said, Skylar. As an aside, am shocked about what the shadchan said to you even taking your pets’ futures out of the equation. Your attitude to pets says something about you as a person and should match that of your besheret as part of why you’d be compatible. Imagine if you did give up something that important for someone – what if you had deep regrets later in life, what if it came between you? What if you wanted another pet later on and it became a great issue between you and you ended up arguing about it? You know, later on in the marriage when the initial excitement has worn off and you are left with building a life with someone for the next 6 decades or more. That shadchan is truly short-sighted. She may as well match you up with a Christian in the hope that he’d give up his religion and adopt yours if you really were meant to be together.

  4. Chana Jenny,

    Very interesting blog today. Please allow me to chime in.

    Prince William’s comment about Lupo is appropriate in context. The British royal family has a mesora (“history”) of owning dogs as pets (see this site for more biographical info on the royal hounds: http://www.royal.gov.uk/TheRoyalHousehold/RoyalAnimals/Familypets.aspx), so it should not come as a surprise that William shares his grandmother’s affection for his family dog. (Frankly the only surprise here is that he named his cocker spaniel “Lupo” – the Italian word for “wolf”!)

    Further, as a Royal and heir to the throne, William is in a unique position to be a role model for all pet owners across the U.K. He is clear about his priorities (dog is 3rd after wife and baby), and equally clear about the notion that the dog requires an adjustment period to get acquainted with the baby. The “alphas” here are the humans; the dog will be trained accordingly. Quite the opposite mentality expressed by the woman with the grand-dogs, or (lehavdil!) those who celebrate a “bark mitzvah” with their 13-year old dog.

  5. I was thrilled to see the Prince setting a positive example by saying he cares for his dog after his wife and baby, that’s the way it should be for any pet owner! I cannot understand why as RELIGIOUS people we are SO careful with the laws of Kashrut or Shabbat but so clueless about the laws relating to animals.
    There are a surprising amount of mitzvahs in the Torah relating to caring for your animals. The Torah for sure sees them as emotional beings and we are required to be their stewards. We are required to feed them before ourselves, to not over burden them, to let them rest on Shabbat, to prevent any form of suffering, they are even referred to as a “nefesh chaya”….I could go on and on. I think it is beautiful when people care for their animals like a child, they are a part of Hashem’s amazing creation and we should be appreciative of them and care for them as Hashem instructed us to.
    A favorite quote of mine from the Torah regarding animals:
    Mishlei 12:10 “יוֹדֵעַ צַדִּיק נֶפֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּוֹ” (A righteous man has regard for the desire of his beast). Prince William, you are one righteous man 🙂

    • My husband and I have undertaken to write a sefer on the halachos of pet ownership.

      It would be a HUGE help, if you could spread the word, and forward any questions to Rivkasmom@gmail.com.

      We won’t be able to answer questions personally, but we will be submitting them to rabbonim for review, and compiling and publishing the answers.

      If you’re on Imamother.com, you can submit your questions here http://imamother.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=220248&highlight=pet+lover and I’ll see if I can find answers for you.

      Toda Rabbah!

  6. Sounds like Prince William has his priorities straight to me. My dog is definitely a family member! I could not disagree more with you on this one.

  7. I agree with you Chana-Jenny. I admit I never really was a pet person, but I definitely think people come before pets.

  8. I’m surprised that you’re so insulted by his level of responsibility and care for his pet. Clearly he puts his wife and child first, but why shouldn’t a pet be a priority. They need a lot of attention and care. After all, you wouldn’t go on vacation for two weeks without asking someone to water your house plants – you would be worried that they would die. A dog is a level higher than a plant and therefore needs more care. He is right to see to the needs of the dog and worry about his adjusting to the new baby. It would be mean to neglect the dog because he is busy with his child. (And I SERIOUSLY doubt that the child is neglected on account of the family having a pet). I find the Prince to be a fine example of what a pet owner should be. He cares first about his family, but he considers the family dog a priority too as he chose to take on the responsibility of caring for him.

    On a side note: Just because your seat mate on the plane is watching something, you aren’t forced to watch it yourself.

  9. Hunh. I think that people who don’t have other love in their lives should absolutely find ways to bring it in. What does it take away from anyone if some person who doesn’t have grandchildren shows affection to something that matters to that person’s children?

    And as for coming third to his wife and child, what should come next? His car? The dog is a living being that needs care and depends on the Prince for his care. Should it be neglected since he’s had a child? (One is even able to speak between washing for bread and making the blessing on the bread to ask if the animals have been cared for.)

  10. I am a wife, a mother of 3, a Safta of 13 and a dog owner. Our Patches is an important part of our family. She is not a child, she is a pet. That doesn’t mean that she comes before my husband, children or grandchildren. Patches has her place.

    Prince William gave a beautiful interview. He complimented his wife on being a great mom, he joked that the baby needs a lot of attention and then spoke about their pet Lupo…Seems to me he has his head on straight!

    More and more senior residences and hospitals have dog visits because dogs are affectionate and calming…and human visitors a far and few in coming. I have single friends, who have a dog or two or three and they are great companions…they fill an empty house.

    Be a volunteer for the SPCA or a recuse..before you know it, you will be telling stories about how cute this dog was or that dog was…

    Miriam

  11. Correction: She is not a child, she is a pet. That doesn’t mean that she comes before my husband, children or grandchildren.

    Meant to say…She is not a child, she is a pet. That means she doesn’t come before my husband, children or grandchildren. Patches knows her place.
    Sorry

    Miriam

  12. JewishMom

    OK, OK, I can take a hint. Looks like I’m overreacting:)

    • I guess it’s an unpopular opinion on this blog, but I agree with you, Chana Jenny. A lot of people here responded about all the mitzvahs related to treatment of animals. What they fail to consider is that the Torah was talking about barn animals and other animals held for a useful purpose. A pet is just a pet. Of course if you get one, you must treat it humanely. But why would you get one? I think they are being used in modern families as child replacements. As several respondents mentioned, it’s easier to own a dog–it gives you affection without ever becoming a teenager! So in an increasingly selfish world, dogs make great children-substitutes.

      • Thank for some perspective. If you own a pet, of course you should treat it properly, but why wouldn’t you have a child, if you could?

  13. Everyone is entitled to have a little pet peeve. No pun intended I’m sure.

    I think even great animal lovers can acknowledge that some people go a bit overboard with respect to their animals. As long as we put people first (our kids, more specifically) then I think we don’t have to worry about loving our animals too much!:) We might miss the forest for the trees if, in defending our love for our pets, we ignore the growing trend among singles/young couples here in the US to want a pet but not want to be bothered with children. That’s the main point Chana was trying to get at I think.

  14. I’m not a pet lover but I married into a pet loving family, and I have learnt a lot about animals. My in-law’s dogs really have personalities and you can see sometimes that they are actually thinking and working out different situations. They have emotions too. I’m still not a pet lover but I certainly appreciate animals and understand why pet owners often talk about their pets in a familial way.

  15. I don’t think you are overreacting. I also value everyone else’s comments. I live in a city where there are more pet stores than children clothing stores! For many people looking for love and something to nurture, pets have fit that need. In our American society, you see marriage rates in decline, divorce rates climbing, birth rates dropping, and pet ownership rising. The family is slowly disintegrating among many, and pets are filling the emptiness. The stickers and such you saw on your trip are right on as examples of where society is heading. To the dogs…

    That said, I am also very fond of animals. My kids adore my father’s dogs and will empty the fridge feeding them if I don’t stop them!

  16. and just one more point!

    It is not a given that everyone will have children or even grandchild, as they are no guarantees.. a pet, whether a dog, a kitten, or a parrot..brings warmth to the heart, a smile on the face and joy in one’s life. pets do not come before one’s children or grandchildren, but in lieu of the former, they sure may a wonderful addition or substitute for what could be a lonely life..Try putting a very depressed person in front of a talking parrot..watch the smile grown on his face..it works like a perfect charm..thank G-d we have them. Even the Alte Rebbe the Baal ha Tanya talks about the value of a talking bird, brings simcha in one’s life, cognitive dissonance and the unexpected!!!

  17. JewishMom

    If people had to choose between saving the life of their dog or a stranger– 40% would save the dog..An important article on the same topic as this post by Dennis Prager.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/356221/dogs-humans-and-god-dennis-prager

    • Wow! That article is just what I wanted to mention to you. Pets can be very helpful for people in many situations. Not all pet owners have their priorities correct. The Torah allows us to eat animals and use them for korbanos (in the Bais Hamikdosh SOON!) which demonstrates that they are a step below man in the ladder of creation. At the same time we are urged to treat all animals humanely, not just our pets as we see from the universal law of “Ever min Hachai” – prohibition of eating a limb from a living animal which applies to all people and is interpreted to include all forms of cruelty to animals. Rescuing abandoned pets is great but puppy mills are cruel.

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