**We are on the same page here. Yes these couples are out there. I agree with you. I’ve seen couples who purposely don’t have ANY children so they can have more pets. And until I have suffered through the pain of not being able to have kids, I thought/presumed this applied to far more people than I do now.
Pets offer a great source of companionship. They can teach children responsibility, to love, and actually help them stay healthy (physically and emotionally.) While certainly not a replacement for children, they can be a good substitute for a couple who can’t have children, a great companion for a child whose parents can’t have a brother or sister for him, or a great addition to a several child family.
Without my three dogs (and the small animals I have too) I would be in the midst of suicidal depression. My pets help me with my depression. I cannot be around people right now, due to the psychological problems stemming from the pain and loss of infertility. So, fostering and caring for my pets allows me to help the world, while being greatly enriched by their love and presence in my life. They help me get out of myself, and have another reason to keep going. They really are wonderful creatures, and I know they help many a sick, disabled, elderly, lonely, infertile person in ways we can’t imagine.
As for why get a dog and not another child? Well I am very thankful to my parents that I could have pets. My only sister graduated when I was ten. My mom had several miscarriages between us. There were no other children. Had I not had pets, it would have been a VERY, VERY lonely existence. Pets have always been a part of my life, and a great source of companionship. Even in a multiple child family, there is nothing wrong with having a couple of dogs. They really are great for the kids, and their emotional and physical development.
But you are certainly right in that a pet (or the care of that pet) should never be chosen over a child, or having another child.
I hope this helps explain a little why some may choose to have a pet, or another pet.
By the way, aquariums DO count. Especially when you have to clean them. I have a small two gallon tank, and trust me that is enough work. I can’t imagine a larger one. ;)