Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

February 26, 2013

CONFER: Buehrle is barking up the wrong tree with his kids

Niagara Gazette — When Major League Baseball pitcher Mark Buehrle was traded from the Miami Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays during the offseason, his dog, Slater – an American Staffordshire terrier and bulldog mix – became a topic of conversation. Pit bulls are outlawed in Ontario, so the question became, “what ever will his master do?”

Would Buehrle make the move to Ontraio and put the dog up for adoption or have a friend watch him? Or, would the pitcher move his family to Niagara County (where the dogs are legal) from which he’d make the 90-minute commute daily?

The answer was none of the above.

Buehrle, a devout animal rights activist, considers Slater a part of his family and he couldn’t bear the thought of separating the dog from them. So, he opted to separate himself from the family and live in Ontario on his own during the season, while his wife and children stayed back in St. Louis with the canine.

I saw a lot of comments attached to online articles about this story in which the readers commended him on his actions. Animal lovers everywhere appreciated the love he showed his dog. It wasn’t unexpected as it’s not uncommon for them to put animals at equal with humans – and in many cases, above them (consider the silly instances out west when funds are set-up to protect specific mountain lions that have attacked, even killed, people).

I see his residency decision quite differently than they did. Whereas they see him as some sort of hero, I see him as a well-intentioned but ultimately bad parent. I love animals, but I love humans a lot more. To me, the real family – mother, son, and daughter – should take precedence over Slater.

Being an absentee father in order to cater to a dog isn’t touching. It’s touched. What sort of father would not want to spend his days with his 5-year old son and 3-year old daughter? Their youth is short-lived and precious. These are the days and years in which they are so cute (more so than any dog ever could be) and their brains and hearts soak up so much information and love. They need their dad to help provide that intellectual and emotional nourishment. Having him 800 miles away – in another country, no less – will do them no good. Sure, his ballplayer’s income will give them all the material goods that they’ll ever need or want, but, for 6 or 7 months out of the year they’ll be without the possession which they need the most – their father.

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