BENGALURU: Aarav and Neelam Chaudhury are proud pet-parents to Jackey (10), Roo (6) and Ruu (4). At no point, have they felt the need for biological children to ‘complete’ their family. The Chaudhurys have made this informed choice after scanning through school admission requirements, college fee structures and the general ‘hassle’ of parenthood. “Having a child would mean months of sleeplessness. In addition, it’s a financial burden. You need to plan and manage their school and college funds," says Aarav, a 34-year-old staff assistant.
Meet the likes of Aarav and Neelam who are choosing to be pet-parents over having biological kids owing to high costs of living and maintenance. For Rakesh and Reshmi Gupta, pet-parents to mongrels Luna, Lily, Ferry, Buddy, Tiger and Lolo, the ‘fear of being abandoned in old age’ kept them away from having children of their own. Even though they are aware of the life span of their pets, the couple feels that they can always adopt other dogs, which would be better than ‘being left alone.’
A late child to her parents, Deboleena Ghosh was a witness to its social and financial implications. When she married at the age of 31 years, she and her husband decided to put having children on hold. And later, they decided not to raise kids at all. “For me, my dogs are my family,” says the animal activist, who has rescued and adopted four Indies.
‘We are not fond of kids’
A freelance illustrator Mounica Tata always wanted a dog. Luckily, she married a man who grew up with a pet and shared her love for the furry four-legged friend. “I was never fond of kids. Neither was my husband keen on having any. We are both passionate about our hobbies and we decided that we wouldn't be able to dedicate so much time for kids, their schools and their hobbies. We are not ready for that sort of commitment," says Mounica.
Instead, they adopted two Retrievers – Leo and Ollie. Their decision ruffled feathers among family members who were not convinced about their unconventional choice. “It did take some time and convincing that we would rather bring up a pet than a child. Our parents hoped that we would eventfully change our minds. But now, they’ve reconciled and are in fact spoiling the two babies like they their own grandchldren,” she says.
‘Don’t want to add to world's population'
IT professional Deepshikha Ghosh started developing a bond with animals after her first pet came home four years ago. Needless to say, a dog-lover, Deepshikha and her husband made a choice to be pet-parents not wanting to ‘populate an overpopulated world.’ "We'd like to extend our family with dogs, who are looking for homes. We want to provide them a better quality of life. The joy they bring home is tremendous and I don’t see it any different from the joys of parenthood,” says the pet-parent to Twitter and Julie.
She still recalls the ‘shock’ when their families were told of the choice.“They tried to force us to change our minds but we were clear about our stand,”she adds.
‘People think we have pets because we can't conceive'
Making a decision to not have biological children requires time and thought. And the process only gets harder when extended family and friends ask intrusive and uncomfortable questions. "I’ve been asked whether I’ve not been able to conceive and hence, made this choice. But it doesn't bother me at all,” says Swagata Paul, a manager in business control.
The pet-parent to Cassius, a Boxer rescued from CUPA, and Bailey, a Cocker Spaniel, points out that their pets require special attention. Cassius does not have pancreas and Bailey has a hip dyslexia. “We make sure that they are not left alone. My husband works from home. But when he is traveling and I have to go to work, we have a cook and maid who feed them and stay with them,” Swagata says, adding, “It's just a personal choice not to have kids of our own," she says.Like pet-parents saym wagging tongues are compensated by wagging tails of their pets who only re-affirm the choice that they have made. (With inputs from Neetimoni Gogoi and Pragya Dwivedi)
‘Our first baby'
Remya Sasi, a software developer, and Sriram, a compensation manager, are parents to a 11-year-old Lab, Coffee. Many of their life choices have been based on Coffee. When he was a pup, Remya used to put him in a box and take him to the vet on a scooty. When he grew bigger, the couple decided to buy a car to make his travel more comfortable. They also moved from an apartment to a house with a garden for more space. “Now, we don’t see ourselves raising children. We'd like to adopt or foster animals so that we can give them better lives."