i tell my kids not to seek out relationships to fill up holes inside them, relationships are for sharing the overflowing inside of you, not to make you feel fulfilled. the same is true for having kids, have them for the wrong reasons and that child is going to pay the price for their parents unfulfilled need. animals are not any different, acquire them to fiill a hole and they will disappoint you and you will most certainly disappoint them. i do not believe you can truly love another if you do not fully love yourself. i meet lots of people who acquire animals for all the wrong reasons. to feel loved, accepted, understood, to compensate for loneliness, for status, the perfect family image (2.5 kids, a mini van and the family dog), for power, for fairy tales, warm and fuzzy cutesy impulse moments or dreams come true. to me it all adds up to exploitation. using another to fulfill a need.
i am not saying that all of us do not get some of our needs fulfilled from our animal companions, because we do. and we fulfill their needs too. the difference is in why we have them and what we expect them to provide to us. because if we expect them to make us feel different about ourselves then they have a big problem if it doesn't happen. at best, emotional neglect, signing off on the relationship because they are not who we wanted so while we meet their physical needs, they themselves, really are kind of useless to us and we go looking elsewhere to get what we need. while the one who didn't quite measure up watches us in bewildered isolation try it again with someone else. this is how collecters and hoaders start out...always looking for that perfect one, and another, and another...but who could even recognise them when you are surrounded by so many ( i should know cuz i work really hard to find, and acknowledge all that is special in all of the saints, and it ain't easy to communicate this special-ness back to them regularly like they all need with so many here). if potential collectors don't get it right the first time, they just keep on trying to fill that hole. in the end they have a big empty hole still with alot of animals milling around the edges.
or if emotional shut down is not enough to erase the mistake, the animal becomes disposable. they have a problem (like they suck at filling our holes) and the blame rests solely with them so we unload them somewhere else. really, maybe even less harsh to add physical abandonment to emotional isolation when you think about it because at least now they have a chance to find a person who will truly cherish them if they land in a decent place who's holes are already filled.
i see alot of humans and even more animals that just didn't measure up to someone elses expectations. it always makes me feel so sad. i just want to take them in my arms and say, "it wasn't you that was lacking, you are wonderful. the emptiness was inside the one you loved"