Like so, so many Australians I am still recovering from the whole census debacle of 2016. In my case, however, it is not the cyber security (Woolworths has more details about me than the census) or even the census night system crash. My problem is that when I finally get to fill in the form my family has on paper (or on screen depending on how I decide to fill it in) the same make up as it did four years ago. This is because the census people have dropped the question about pets. Shame on you ABS. Pets are people. Pets are family. Our family is forever changed for the better because of the fur people. So I got huffy and filled in the Bondi Vet Dr Chris Brown's Pet Census. Which is all well and dandy but there is a question I stumbled over: What stops you from getting another pet? The options were such things as cost, emotional commitment, and work (such as walking them). I hesitated. Well, the council lets me have only two dogs, I thought. But that's not it either. If the census asked me what stopped me from having another child the answer would not be cost, emotional commitment or work. Like the dogs, it would in Facebook relationship terms, it's complicated. The family is complete as it is. That's it. I also hesitated over the vet question which asked how far away is your nearest vet. Seems simple enough. But is it asking about the closest vet or the vet I go to? Because it is quite different. The nearest vet is less than five minutes away. The vet we go to, like the doctor we go to, is more than 30 minutes away. Relationships with our health professionals is far more important than convenience. So today the fur friends and I visited Dr Megan at Northgate and then walked along the Kedron Brook off leash area before picking up the human child. Without asking the right questions or indeed any questions these things aren't counted. My dogs are factored into almost all decisions about my family because they are family. It matters because pets determine where people live, how they go on holidays, their choice of vehicle, whether they use public transport, whether they will go into an evacuation centre in a crisis, choices of aged care facilities and so on. This information helps facilitate proper planning and that's what the census is supposed to be about.
So let's have the pet question back. Those without pets just need to tick one more box so it's not actually demanding. Those with pets will happily give over additional time to allow the powers that be to know what our family really looks like.