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  #1  
Old 09-12-2010, 07:23 PM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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When did people first start keeping pets?

I am asking in the context of "pets" as animals optionally kept exclusively for "companionship" and not for a utilitarian purpose such as a food supply, weapon, religious purposes, etc.
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2010, 07:27 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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We don't know. But you're in luck. PBS's Nature show (on 8PM EDT and PDT) has a two part series on the origin of the dog, starting tonight.

It's thought that the dog was the first animal domesticated, but we don't know when. I've seen 15k years ago, and I've seen 100k years ago.

As for adopting wild animals as pets (and not necessarily domesticating them), that might go back further. But we don't know.
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Old 09-12-2010, 08:59 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Cypriots and cats, 9500 years ago?: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/20...nt_8904093.htm
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  #4  
Old 09-12-2010, 10:12 PM
Gil-Martin Gil-Martin is offline
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Some dozen or two millennia ago, Gronk kept some sort of animal around for utilitarian reasons. Then one day, Gronk's animal had a really, really cute puppy or kitten or whatever and his son or daughter begged Daddy to let them bring it inside . . . with the understanding that it would be he or she, and not Gronk, who would feed the animal and pick up after it.

Or maybe not. Anyway, people probably kept certain kinds of animals around for all kinds of practical reasons, ranging from protection to food to rodent control, and after a while just started feeling affection for some of them. I would guess we've had "pets" for just about as long as we've been living with non-human animals.

Also, the show John Mace refers to above is extremely interesting. I can't wait to see Part Two.
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Old 09-13-2010, 12:32 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I would think to any kind ancient person it'd be obvious that cat or cat-like animals would keep mice and rats away. So it'd be just a step from there to pets. As dogs, who would warn of possible intruders.
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  #6  
Old 09-13-2010, 01:40 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
I am asking in the context of "pets" as animals optionally kept exclusively for "companionship" and not for a utilitarian purpose such as a food supply, weapon, religious purposes, etc.
That 'exclusively' makes it real hard to give an answer here. My cats are mainly companion animals, and have me well trained to provide food & care for them. But they still catch a mouse occasionally. So they would be excluded by your definition. Most living cats on farms & in other countries probably work for their keep, even now.

Cats were used for rodent control, dogs for various uses (herding, hunting, guarding, etc.). I suppose some rich people (Pharaohs, Roman Emperors) kept individual cats or dogs strictly as a pet, but the majority of the species was still a working animal.
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:46 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by Gil-Martin View Post
Some dozen or two millennia ago, Gronk kept some sort of animal around for utilitarian reasons. Then one day, Gronk's animal had a really, really cute puppy or kitten or whatever and his son or daughter begged Daddy to let them bring it inside . . . with the understanding that it would be he or she, and not Gronk, who would feed the animal and pick up after it.

Or maybe not. Anyway, people probably kept certain kinds of animals around for all kinds of practical reasons, ranging from protection to food to rodent control, and after a while just started feeling affection for some of them. I would guess we've had "pets" for just about as long as we've been living with non-human animals.

Also, the show John Mace refers to above is extremely interesting. I can't wait to see Part Two.
Gronk ended up sending that baby animal to a cave in the country because it kept chewing up the sitting logs.
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  #8  
Old 09-13-2010, 01:54 AM
cckerberos cckerberos is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
I am asking in the context of "pets" as animals optionally kept exclusively for "companionship" and not for a utilitarian purpose such as a food supply, weapon, religious purposes, etc.
That 'exclusively' makes it real hard to give an answer here. My cats are mainly companion animals, and have me well trained to provide food & care for them. But they still catch a mouse occasionally. So they would be excluded by your definition.
But surely you don't keep them for their mouse catching?
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  #9  
Old 09-13-2010, 03:25 AM
robardin robardin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gil-Martin View Post
Some dozen or two millennia ago, Gronk kept some sort of animal around for utilitarian reasons. Then one day, Gronk's animal had a really, really cute puppy or kitten or whatever and his son or daughter begged Daddy to let them bring it inside . . . with the understanding that it would be he or she, and not Gronk, who would feed the animal and pick up after it.
Gronkling: What happened to the baby goats?
Gronk: I traded the baby goats to Tonga for some sea shells for your mother.
Gronkling: EVEN SPOTTIE?
Gronk: Who's Spottie? What kind of person would be named Spottie?
Gronkling: The little goat with the spot on his head!
Gronk: ... You went and NAMED a GOAT?
Gronkling: He was... so... CUTE... **waaaah**
Gronk: *sigh*
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2010, 03:45 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
It's thought that the dog was the first animal domesticated, but we don't know when. I've seen 15k years ago, and I've seen 100k years ago.
It's a trick answer of sorts but the first domesticated animal was probably yeast.

Granted, you rarely gave them names.
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  #11  
Old 09-13-2010, 09:06 AM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is offline
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Yeast is not an animal.
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2010, 09:17 AM
blue infinity blue infinity is online now
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A really, really long time ago.
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  #13  
Old 09-13-2010, 10:22 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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This past weekend a National Geographic program claimed that the practice of keeping pets seems universal among hunting peoples. As suggested above, it may predate humanity.
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  #14  
Old 09-13-2010, 01:33 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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This past weekend a National Geographic program claimed that the practice of keeping pets seems universal among hunting peoples. As suggested above, it may predate humanity.
So it began with the first chimp to play with his food?
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"He is an abomination of science that curdles the milk of all honest men!"~~One Dr Chouteh, possibly commenting on Bosda Di'Chi.Or not.
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  #15  
Old 09-13-2010, 01:44 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by robardin View Post

Gronkling: What happened to the baby goats?
Gronk: I traded the baby goats to Tonga for some sea shells for your mother.
Gronkling: EVEN SPOTTIE?
Gronk: Who's Spottie? What kind of person would be named Spottie?
Gronkling: The little goat with the spot on his head!
Gronk: ... You went and NAMED a GOAT?
Gronkling: He was... so... CUTE... **waaaah**
Gronk: *sigh*
Og invent pet rock before Gronk get baby animal. Og still wait for resolution in trademark infringement suit. Og need better lawyer. Gronk spoil that kid. And Gronkling too.
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  #16  
Old 09-13-2010, 01:51 PM
Huerta88 Huerta88 is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Gronk ended up sending that baby animal to a cave in the country . . . .
As far as the kids know . . .
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  #17  
Old 09-13-2010, 02:31 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by Huerta88 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Gronk ended up sending that baby animal to a cave in the country . . . .
As far as the kids know . . .
Gronk celebrate baby animals new life in country with fresh meat feast that night. Tasted like chicken.

Also Og big whiner. He copy pet rock from Homo Habilis

Last edited by TriPolar; 09-13-2010 at 02:32 PM..
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  #18  
Old 09-13-2010, 02:45 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Gronk spoil that kid.
Gronk say not Gronk's fault. Gronk not have modern refridgeration technology.
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  #19  
Old 09-13-2010, 02:56 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Gronk spoil that kid.
Gronk say not Gronk's fault. Gronk not have modern refridgeration technology.
Og say WTF?! Gronk live in ice age. Whole world is fridge. Gronk big mammothshitter.
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  #20  
Old 09-13-2010, 04:08 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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WAG here. Personal family experience. Some of my older relatives I knew as a child had a much different attitude about pets.

My uncle (born 1910) liked dogs, but only outside. He never really spent much time petting or playing with them. He'd put food out. Give it a couple pets on the head and get to work on the farm. He didn't worry about fencing the dog in. The dog came and went as it pleased. It always hung around because it got fed. He never took a dog to a vet. I remember him splinting a neighbors dog's leg that got hit by a car. It recovered. If a dog got sick, he'd pick up something that might help at the Farmers CoOp Feed store.

My other older relatives were the same way. Dogs and cats belonged outside.

The idea of an indoor pet that you fuss over constantly seems pretty recent. Perhaps since the 1940's or 50's.

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-13-2010 at 04:12 PM..
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  #21  
Old 09-13-2010, 04:21 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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I have a hard time believing that keeping animals as pets didn't predate domestication. Kids absolutely love catching critters of all sorts. At a certain hunger level, lizards look like food... but if you've had a good meal, a lizard leashed on a blade of grass is a hell of a lot of fun. Frogs, snakes, butterflies... they're all good for entertainment. Catching these things is a way to practice hunting skills and caring for them is good practice for parenting skills.

Plus, you can eat them when you need a snack.
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  #22  
Old 09-13-2010, 04:55 PM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The idea of an indoor pet that you fuss over constantly seems pretty recent. Perhaps since the 1940's or 50's.
According to the Wikipedia article on poodles, toy poodles have been kept since the 18th Century.

What you describe is still a pretty common, utilitarian view of animals (even "pets") among farmers in the U.S.

I think it's pretty clear that pets (as defined by the idea of an animal which serves little or no functional purpose, other than as a companion) have been kept by the wealthy / upper class for quite some time. With the emergence of a middle class in western society, you now had another, far larger, group who had enough disposable income that they could afford to spend money on a pure companion animal.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 09-13-2010 at 04:56 PM..
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  #23  
Old 09-13-2010, 04:58 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The idea of an indoor pet that you fuss over constantly seems pretty recent. Perhaps since the 1940's or 50's.
We have plenty of literature establishing very clearly that people had indooor pets at least 3, 000 years ago, everyhting from cats and dogs through birds and fish to leopards. Even in the US, we have literature about spoiled lap dogs going back at least as far as Mark Twain, and that's only the stuff I know of. Given the cultural influence of France in the 18th century and the fondness of French aristocrats for lap dogs, I imagine that indoor pets go back at least 250 years in the US.

Anybody suggesting 1940 as the earliest date for indoor pets is way, way off the mark.
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  #24  
Old 09-13-2010, 04:59 PM
StusBlues StusBlues is offline
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People should be allowed to keep midgets as pets.
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:07 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
According to the Wikipedia article on poodles, toy poodles have been kept since the 18th Century.
Toy poodles are a very, very recent lapdog breeed, in fact they are probably the newest of the lapdogs. Even something like the King Charles predates toy poodles by 150 years, and we have excellent records showing that the King Charles itself was bred from existing lap dogs that had been bred for generations. Then we have the various oriental lap dogs that have written histories going back 500 years, and credible written legends indictaing at least 1, 500 years.

So just in terms of records that state explictely "these dogs were kept inside and pampered and had absolutely no use aside from companionship" we can date pets to at least 500 years back. If we include Babylonian and Egyptian records about people keping "fishes in bowls for their delight" and similar we can push that back over 2, 000 years.
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:12 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The idea of an indoor pet that you fuss over constantly seems pretty recent. Perhaps since the 1940's or 50's.
We have plenty of literature establishing very clearly that people had indooor pets at least 3, 000 years ago, everyhting from cats and dogs through birds and fish to leopards. Even in the US, we have literature about spoiled lap dogs going back at least as far as Mark Twain, and that's only the stuff I know of. Given the cultural influence of France in the 18th century and the fondness of French aristocrats for lap dogs, I imagine that indoor pets go back at least 250 years in the US.

Anybody suggesting 1940 as the earliest date for indoor pets is way, way off the mark.
I think aceplace made the mistake of not indicated he/she was talking about regular, everyday folk. But I'd still push that back further than then 1940s.
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:18 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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1940's was my own family history. All my older family were farmers. Dogs rode in your pickup or hung around in the barns. They were dirty, smelly, with fleas and ticks. The idea of bringing one into the house was unheard of.

Later generations left the farm and lived in the city. Indoor pets came with the city house. Heavy City traffic made fences for dogs a necessity.

I'd agree the rich and upper class had pets long ago. Wasn't it the Chinese Emperors that had pekineses dogs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
The idea of an indoor pet that you fuss over constantly seems pretty recent. Perhaps since the 1940's or 50's.
We have plenty of literature establishing very clearly that people had indooor pets at least 3, 000 years ago, everyhting from cats and dogs through birds and fish to leopards. Even in the US, we have literature about spoiled lap dogs going back at least as far as Mark Twain, and that's only the stuff I know of. Given the cultural influence of France in the 18th century and the fondness of French aristocrats for lap dogs, I imagine that indoor pets go back at least 250 years in the US.

Anybody suggesting 1940 as the earliest date for indoor pets is way, way off the mark.
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  #28  
Old 09-14-2010, 09:53 AM
VernWinterbottom VernWinterbottom is offline
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Just a guess, but I think it's more likely that cats and dogs chose to hang around near humans than the other way around.
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  #29  
Old 09-14-2010, 10:00 AM
garygnu garygnu is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
...
Og invent pet rock before Gronk get baby animal. Og still wait for resolution in trademark infringement suit. Og need better lawyer. Gronk spoil that kid. And Gronkling too.
Hire this guy.
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  #30  
Old 09-14-2010, 10:06 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
WAG here. Personal family experience. Some of my older relatives I knew as a child had a much different attitude about pets.

My uncle (born 1910) liked dogs, but only outside. He never really spent much time petting or playing with them. He'd put food out. Give it a couple pets on the head and get to work on the farm. He didn't worry about fencing the dog in. The dog came and went as it pleased. It always hung around because it got fed. He never took a dog to a vet. I remember him splinting a neighbors dog's leg that got hit by a car. It recovered. If a dog got sick, he'd pick up something that might help at the Farmers CoOp Feed store.

My other older relatives were the same way. Dogs and cats belonged outside.
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
1940's was my own family history. All my older family were farmers. Dogs rode in your pickup or hung around in the barns. They were dirty, smelly, with fleas and ticks. The idea of bringing one into the house was unheard of.

Later generations left the farm and lived in the city. Indoor pets came with the city house.
I think this says more about the farmers in question than it does about the practice of keeping pets generally. It's a hardness of attitude and a utilitarian outlook mostly.

Hell, American farmers could substitute "migrant Mexican farm workers" for "dogs" in any of the sentences above and it would reflect their attitudes equally well.
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  #31  
Old 09-14-2010, 10:22 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I think Elendil's Heir has the right answer. It's what I was coming in to say.

I suspect that both cats and humans and dogs and humans are really symbiotic -- cats and dogs figured out that they could get food living among people because they could trap vermin (mice mainly, but if you have cats you know that they chase and eat a lot of insects) and scarf up any random people food as well, plus getting shelter. People kept them around because they'd eat the mice that were stealing food. Dogs did the same things, plus they could help with hunting. I've read speculation that the Greeks originally kept snakes in houses to keep down vermin as well (which explains a lot of the carvings of snakes, and the absence of cats as domestic animals in early Greek works -- although they show up by Aesop's time).

All of that isn't "pets" in the sense of "useless animals kept as creatures of affection", but it's probably how pets started out. I don't count domesicated "farm" animals like cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, or horses.








I suspect the first pets kept as points of affection that were pretty pointless, from a utilitarian point of view, were monkeys. They're not useful for hunting, for keeping down vermin, or for transportation. and they ain't good eatin'. If anything, they make things worse -- eating your food, sharing lice and fleas, defecating and urinating in inconvenient places (one big advantage of dogs and cats is that you can train them in this regard), and possibly being a hazard to family members (I've heard and read scary stories of monkey attacks). I know that the Romans kept monkeys -- there are Pompeii wall paintings of them -- although that's pretty late. I think there may be Egyptian representations of pet monkeys . I certainly wouldn't be surprised if monkeys were kept as pets in the earliest cities.
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  #32  
Old 09-14-2010, 10:36 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Do parrots serve a purpose for pirates?

Does insulting the rest of the crew and acting cliche count as utilitarian?
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  #33  
Old 09-14-2010, 03:55 PM
kimera kimera is offline
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People should be allowed to keep midgets as pets.
You joke, but they were. Wealthy Romans and Egyptians both owned pets as status symbols.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:39 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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People should be allowed to keep midgets as pets.
You joke, but they were. Wealthy Romans and Egyptians both owned pets as status symbols.
Interesting freudian slip.
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  #35  
Old 09-14-2010, 05:32 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Do parrots serve a purpose for pirates?

Does insulting the rest of the crew and acting cliche count as utilitarian?
Pirates and other sailors didn't actually keep parrots as pets. They were more like trade goods. Sailors would buy exotic animals like parrots or monkeys in the tropics and then resell them for several times what they paid for them in European ports.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 09-14-2010 at 05:33 PM..
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:39 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Do parrots serve a purpose for pirates?

Does insulting the rest of the crew and acting cliche count as utilitarian?
Pirates and other sailors didn't actually keep parrots as pets. They were more like trade goods. Sailors would buy exotic animals like parrots or monkeys in the tropics and then resell them for several times what they paid for them in European ports.
Damn pirates, always so practical.
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  #37  
Old 09-14-2010, 11:36 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Don't ever buy a parrot.
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  #38  
Old 09-15-2010, 03:36 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post

I think this says more about the farmers in question than it does about the practice of keeping pets generally. It's a hardness of attitude and a utilitarian outlook mostly.

Hell, American farmers could substitute "migrant Mexican farm workers" for "dogs" in any of the sentences above and it would reflect their attitudes equally well.

The attitude of farmers (relatives or neighbours) re dogs in the (admitedly backward) rural area I was raised up in the 70's in France was basically the same (although some would let them inside sometimes) and the care/attention pretty minimal.

So I assume it has been the attitude of farmers in general, not of some farmers in particular, and most probably for quite a long time in the past (I doubt that a 17th century farmer was kinder with his dogs than a 20th century one).
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