Parents, pet owners and leash children - Johnny Jackson

Some parents could learn a thing or two from watching avid pet owners on pet appreciation promotion days at sporting events.

From the strict attention to the carriage of their puppies, to the scolding of their adolescent dogs, pet owners seem to mimic an authoritarian parenthood.

I can't say I'm an animal lover. I haven't had a real pet since I was much smaller than I am now - a golden retriever and German shepherd mix.

Since, I've had a couple of Beta fish that have gone to better places.

I didn't care too much then about what it took to take care of them. After all, I needed caretakers, at the time, myself.

There are people who, as adults, take the job of pet ownership seriously, and they should. But one wonders where the seriousness ends and the silliness begins.

Browsing a downtown memorabilia shop one day in downtown Atlanta, a friend noticed in the rack of sports jerseys, a smaller-than-normal jersey with an odd sleeve.

Upon further examination, we noticed the sleeve wasn't all that odd at all. The jersey was apparently made for a small dog - perhaps to wear during a pet promotion day for one of Atlanta's professional sports teams.

On those days, you will see all kinds of questionable costumes and accessories draped over man's best friend.

And as is typical of the complainers, you'll hear those who talk down about the pet owners saying the spirit-clad pets are an over-the-top expression of their owner's love and devotion to them.

And on the other side, are those defending the routine acts of dress-up with Fido and Chocolate, and living somehow vicariously through them.

The owners bark their commands and tighten their leashes, all while showing off their accomplishments (the pets) and competing with their neighbors about whose pet has the shiniest coat.

While I respect those who have enough consideration to care for their pets, I do wish that pet owners would simply allow their pets to be what they are.

Some people truly treat their pets as their children, and vice versa.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957-9161.