Last Thursday, Caesar, a 6-year old black purebred Labrador retriever waited for someone to adopt him after being abandoned by the family where he was employed as household pet for last two years. After failing to be find a new owner who would take him in as household pet, Caesar ended his life by jumping in front of a speeding lorry. As the world's economic conditions worsens, Caesar is one of the increasing number of domesticated animals who are facing the brunt of global recession.
Presently, there is a climate of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the domestic animal market which is having far-reaching psychological effects, damaging the mental health of many animals who are still gainfully employed by humans.
Bruno, a Pomeranian employed by 13-year old girl, Annie from Montana is a harried lot. Worried that Annie's parents who are facing home foreclosure may decide to abandon him, he has become extra-obedient and extremely disciplined. Bruno, who earlier was the darling of the house, entertaining everyone with his tricks and capers, has now taken up the role of house guardian, realizing that his cuteness might no longer be enough to keep him employed at Annie's place.
While earlier he used to run up and down the house, knocking over household items, tearing apart everything he could lay his teeth upon, nowadays he sits quietly outside the door of the house pretending to guard it from imaginary intruders. His anxiety and nervousness is evident by his frequent barking at the slightest provocation or at any interruption in the daily routine. Often he barks at passersby without any reason hoping to impress his masters by displaying his alertness, vigilance and devotion to self-imposed duty.
Worried that he might be kicked out from the home of Andersons, Lucifer, a 7-year old German Shepard, employed as household pet for three and a half years, has began to take the task of entertaining his owners a bit too seriously. Nowadays, he spends at least one hour everyday learning new tricks from his neighborhood buddy Rolph, a cockier spaniel employed by the Woodson family. Lucifer is hoping that the new bag of tricks that he has learned recently will keep 9-year old Mike Anderson sufficiently amused to ensure his continued employment at the residence of Michael Anderson who was recently laid off from his job of seven years at the failed Southern Pacific Bank.
Picasso, the 7-year old Mollucan Cockatoo caged in the home of Blenda Jackson, a 34-year old divorced woman living with her 7-year old son Rex, has stopped using swear words he had learned to mimic at the home of his earlier owner, Ron Stewart. Having never stepped outside his tiny cage in 5 years, Picasso has almost forgotten to fly and his worst nightmare is being released from his secure cage and set free in the wild where he could easily become food of more agile wild birds. While Blenda doesn't really mind Picasso's explicit vocabulary and often used to show him off to her friends who would crack up in laughter hearing the Cockatoo swear, Picasso is not taking any chances. Sensing her frequent bad moods due to troubles at her workplace, he has not only stopped swearing, but instread keeps parroting 'I love you' every half an hour to Brenda and her son.
According to the latest statistics released by 'International Domestic Animals Labor Organization', there has been a five-fold rise in domesticated animal unemployment figures. In last 4 months, an estimated 350000 animals employed as human pets have lost their jobs and have joined the ranks of stray dogs and cats. Additionally, over 150000 livestock animals employed as blue-collared laborers in agricultural operations have been abandoned by their employers.
"The unemployment levels witnessed in recent times are very alarming. As a result of global recession, domestic animals are facing an unprecedented crisis of horrifying proportions. We have also seen rise in suicides amongst those who have been thrown out by their owners. As per the figures available to us, almost 8-10% of domesticated animals who have lost their jobs have ended their lives by drowning in the nearest lake or by throwing themselves in front of speeding vehicles." said Brenda Coleman, director of IDALO.
To make matters worse, animal shelters and care-centers have seen a drastic fall in donations making it extremely difficult for them to provide shelter to the increasing number of abandoned animals. "As panic of financial meltdown spreads, we are seeing a drop in donations. People don't want to spend as much money as they used to spend before" said Dr Rajesh Sharma, chief functionary of Animal Welfare Society, Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Pet Planet Times, a weekly newsletter has issued a advisory booklet on 'How To Keep Your Job During Recession'. Some of the tips included in this 4-page booklet are:
1. Learn new tricks - Keep yourself updated on the latest job-trends and keep learning newer tricks to keep your owners entertained. Don't feel shy of walking on your hind legs or hurtling out your tongue a few inches more than usual if doing such tricks can help you keep your job. Master the 'Oh-I'm-just-a-poor-puppy-please-don't-throw-me-out' look to ensure your continued survival at your workplace. Try to sense the fluctuating moods of your owners and act accordingly. For example, learning to fetch the beer bottle from the refrigerator for your owner when he has a bad day at work or if he has been dumped by his girlfriend will immediately create an empathetic relation with him and ensure that he will never let you go.
2. Work harder - Don't laze around and do every given task with sincerity. If the 5-year old brat of the house wants you to fetch the Frisbee he threw in the pool a hundred times at a stretch, do it without complaining. If you want to survive as a pampered pet in recessionary conditions, don't be afraid to get into the water no matter how much you hate getting wet.
3. Goal setting - Set new goals everyday. Your goals can include tasks like making your owners laugh at least once every day or getting yourself patted on your head. Establishing goals and achieving them is an excellent way of proving your worthiness to your masters and will reduce your chances of being kicked out.
4. Specialize - Become a specialist in some trick or task which will make your masters feel proud of you. If you are able to perform a trick or task that no other pet in your neighborhood is able to perform, your owners will feel reluctant to let you off. The possibilities of specializing are endless. For example, you can learn to bark rhythmically and melodically mimicking the favorite song of your owner. Be very observant. Keep your eyes and ears open and observe keenly which activities your owners enjoy most. Make mental notes of all such activities, be innovative and try to create tricks around such activities which will make you indispensable to your masters.
While the domesticated animals are witnessing depressing days, the rest of the animal world remains completely unaware of the travails of the domesticated animals. Most stray dogs and cats all over the world react with puzzlement at the anxiety and nervousness of those employed by humans as pets. Millions of untamed birds and beasts living in the wild have absolutely no conception or awareness of the term 'recession' and continue to live their lives as before completely unaffected by gloomy reports emerging from domestic animals living their lives within the confines of man-made economies.