The whole notion of pet ownership must really have gotten started around the early 1900s when people began to have enough disposable income to afford keeping animals that really only enrich their emotional lives, rather than their physical lives.
Now a days it's almost comical how many people ask me why I have chickens as pets in our town house, but the reciprocal question of why do they have a dog/cat as a pet doesn't seem odd to them.
Don't get me wrong, I love our dogs and our cat, they're enjoyable, but they're also a lot of work and they do not give us edible eggs.
So I started thinking today when hearing a young girl bemoaning the fact that she acquired a new puppy and now found herself very tied down, duh why'd you do that, you should have gotten a chicken!
Sure your chicken won't cuddle up with you to watch Downton Abbey or chase after balls when you take her to the park. But she will run over to you when you come out of the house, in hopes that you have a tasty treat. She will happily scratch away at the bugs in the yard (and all the other plants you like too...sorry). In addition to leaving fecal land mines in the yard, she will compensate for this ewww factor by providing you with a tasty wholesome egg (from a cage free chicken!) each day.
A beautiful present from her which can be made into an omelet, a cake, cookies, pies, dinners, or even better gifts for your friends who will swoon over receiving a fresh chicken egg (especially if you tell them how old store eggs generally are).
Furthermore, if you tire of her, there are far more people interested in chickens than who want to take on someone's dog or cat mistake. And if you are tough enough, you can eat her. She's not destined to live long (4-5 years is pretty long in the beak) so you won't be tied to your chicken for a decade (as you will with your dog or cat).
And because I DO love dogs and cats, I also abhor the way some people acquire these pets and then neglect them because they don't understand just how much time and attention these animals deserve and need. A chicken is not as sharp as a dog or cat and won't feel horribly neglected if you only feed her once a day and never take her for a walk. She'll certainly be a more loving chicken and sociable if you do interact with her, but if you don't it's not a moral ding on you (and yes, I do think it's a ding on those who ignore/crate/dewclaw/abuse their dogs or cats).
Now I'm not dogging the traditional home companions, I DO love them. But for the youngsters who often make mistakes in acquiring pets with boyfriends/girlfriends/roommates and then have to fob them off on hapless friends or family, they ought to give thought to getting a chicken instead! They're much cheaper too!