A lesson in decision making – will you make the right one? How will you feel about your decision?
As a child, I loved reading books by this well-known author. In fact, I’ve purchased several of Dr. Seuss’ stories and have enjoyed reading them to my nieces and nephew (recently blessed with a second nephew – thank you). The stories were catchy; they stick in your head. The images were vibrant colours of blue, orange, yellow, and red.
I was excited to learn that an unpublished book was recently discovered by the family of the legendary Dr. Seuss. I was equally excited to learn that it was about pets. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
….and then I read it.
The inside flap gives us a glimpse of the lesson in the story:
Every pet looks like fun, so how in the world do you pick just one?
As I turned to the beginning of the story and read the first few pages, my heart sank. The first illustration shows two unaccompanied children looking in the window of a pet store. Their dad has given them permission to go to the pet store and pick their pet.
The children start off looking at an adult dog and an adult cat, their attention soon captured by the younger versions, a puppy, and a kitten.
I recognize this scenario – an impulse buy. Perhaps it’s the bold, capitalized font across the image reading ‘MAKE UP YOUR MIND’ that gives it away. If that didn’t, a few pages later the same messages boldly screams out from the book with the additional words:
Pick a pet fast!
Pick one out soon!
Mother and dad said
to be home by noon!
Impulse decisions like this often end with the family returning the animal. They have not done their research and are not prepared for all that is involved in caring for a pet. Pets are not novelties. In most cases, when the ‘novelty’ wears off, there are consequences. Sometimes these consequences are extreme, and it is usually the animals that suffer.
The following pages confirm exactly this message:
who knows what other good pets I might find?
I might find a new one.
a few pages later:
I picked one out fast,
and then that was that.
As a society, we have come such a long way in educating children about responsible pet ownership and caring for abandoned and neglected animals. We are trying to teach people that rescued animals, special-needs animals, and older animals all make wonderful, loving companions. Communities are advocating to stop the sale of animals in pet shops and to have the farms (Puppy Mills) where these animals are ‘manufactured,’ CLOSED DOWN FOREVER!
It is of no comfort (to me), that the publisher – Random House New York has included a lengthy afterword about Dr. Seuss and his pets, as well as their team of pet-lovers. No doubt knowing, full-well there would be disapproval regarding the publication of this book, Random House also included the following:
…committing to caring for a pet as a cherished, not captive, companion is a big decision.
Choosing where to get your pet is also very important. When Dr. Seuss wrote What Pet Should I Get? over fifty years ago, it was common for people to simply buy dogs, cats, and other animals at pet stores. Today animal advocates encourage us to adopt them from a shelter or rescue organization and warn us never to purchase our pets from places that are supplied by puppy mills. We wholeheartedly agree and completely support this recommendation.
So, Random House, WHY did you decide to share a completely different message by publishing this book? Even if all proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to rescue efforts, the message in the story negates the lesson animal-welfare advocates are trying to teach. The afterward is not the section of the book that is being read to children and may not even be read by parents.
Random House finishes the afterward by sharing with us the lesson in the book:
What Pet Should I Get? is a story about a classic childhood moment: choosing a pet. It is also a story about making decisions.
Some things are best left alone. Or dare I say ‘let sleeping dogs lie.’ For whatever reason, Dr. Seuss decided not to share this work of his with the world. The family of Dr. Seuss and Random House Publishing decided they would share this story.
I have decided I will not share this book with my nieces and nephews. Nor will I recommend it to parents for their children. In fact, I would happily suggest:
This Book is one Not to Get!
Ultimately, the decision to purchase this book and share the story and it’s lesson is yours.