A Human’s Life by George Nikolopoulos [sci-fi]

A Human’s Life by George Nikolopoulos

So, you have finally given in to your children’s desperate pleas for a pet, and they’ve persuaded you to get a human. A great choice for a pet—but there are a few things that you should know before picking one. First things first: adopt a stray, don’t buy; there are several important reasons for this.

Humans are exotics, which means that they’re not a native species of our world or even, in fact, our star system. Capturing wild humans on their planet, Aerth, has been banned for several hundred years. This makes all humans descendants of the ones that were captured centuries ago, brought to Pandaesia and domesticated. Pet stores and human breeders would have you buy purebred humans, and this of course leads to inbreeding. That’s why humans bought in pet stores are sicklier and live less than strays. Purebred humans suffer from limited gene pools and have breed-specific health issues. Diabetes, hernia, bad backs, and mental illness often plague the purebreds.

Commercial breeding facilities put profit above the welfare of humans. Babies are housed in appalling conditions, often becoming very sick and emotionally troubled as a result. The mothers are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, and when they’re no longer profitable, they are abandoned or even killed. Most humans sold to unsuspecting consumers in pet stores come from such facilities.

Each year, millions of unwanted homeless humans end up at shelters across Pandaesia. Shelters keep them off the streets, where they’re admittedly a nuisance; males fight each other all the time, and marauding human packs are really dangerous. Half of these humans will have to be euthanized, for a simple reason: too many humans and not enough good homes; and yet the number of euthanized humans would be dramatically reduced if people adopted pets instead of buying them. We have to prevent breeders from bringing more humans into a world where there are already too many.

That’s why you should neuter your human. Don’t listen to the soft-hearted who will tell you it’s cruel. A neutered human is a happy, carefree human, delivered from its constant obsession with sex, and if you own more than one you’ll be amazed at how much better they will get along after being neutered. Neutering will also prevent several undesirable sexual behaviors such as humping, aggression, and the need to roam, as well as the messiness of the female cycle. Don’t add new strays to the world. Humans have a litter of only one every nine months, but they are in heat constantly and this makes them really hard to control. Also, mothers are obsessed with keeping their cubs and they are so persistent that you might end up with a whole human family on your hands—and believe me, that’s a bit more than you bargained for.

Humans are not toys; they are real live animals. Owning them is both a privilege and a responsibility. They live long and, as cute and adorable as the babies are, there’s a tendency to abandon old ones in the streets. You must understand that a well-fed, well-cared-for human can live over a hundred years, and, in some cases, they have reportedly reached several hundred. So, when you get one, you must understand you get them for life. They will give you satisfaction and rich rewards, and when your human passes away, you will be understandably sad—but please don’t ditch them when you’re bored with them.

You should play with your human for at least fifteen minutes every day, and you should groom it and keep it clean. Some people like to feed them table scraps, but if you do, you should be careful to absolutely avoid foods that contain arsenic or polonium, and I should say that mercury is not a good idea either. There are several kinds of pellets suitable for a healthy and tasty diet, but again, you should avoid the ones containing even traces of arsenic; they are cheaper, but they may be fatal to your human.

You can train your human to respond to a human whistle when it’s time to feed it. They can even understand simple commands if you speak slowly, but you should never ever forget that, despite their modicum of intelligence, humans are animals and not people.

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