My husband has purchased a set of very sturdy pet stairs for the dogs to use when they clamber up into bed. I feebly protested that dogs shouldn't sleep in bed with humans, but I think I lost that battle many years ago. The S_________ family treats their pets like their biological superiors. (Just to clarify, the in-laws pets are not actually superior to them.) I never grew up with the idea that my pets were even my equals because they died so easily, and I did not. I did not have much luck with the smaller pets:
Othello, the Black Moor bug-eyed goldfish. Died after first water change. Autopsy was inconclusive in determining cause of death. (I asked "Why (sniff) whyyyy?" -- I believe Dad might have jokingly volunteered his college dissection kit and I took him up on it.)
Unnamed goldfish. Died when I was at summer camp. Parents popped him in the freezer so I could thaw him out and slice him open when I got home. Goldfish guts spilled out. Accidental death. I accused parents of over-feeding him.
Othello II, second Black Moor goldfish. Died after first water change. Second Black Moor death, second autopsy, also inconclusive.
A Fish I wanted to name Othello III, but my mother advised I just name it 'Dead Fish': Died (no!) after the first water change. Again, the autopsy was futile. But, cold cases are often solved years later. Here's some hard evidence: in North County where I grew up the water pipes are lined with lead so a massive amount of chlorine is added to balance the water.
Salmonella-carrying green water turtle (name forgotten): Bleached to death. I wasn't trying to kill him, or to make him a lighter shade of green. There was a bowl in the sink upside down in a liquid that looked just like water. Looked like a water turtle might enjoy swimming in it. Mom, who was bleaching the bowl, was horrified to discover the turtle swimming (frantically) in the bleach and suggested it might be great to give the turtle its freedom, like liberating the slaves. Mom and Dad and I drove off and Dad set him down at the side of the road and claimed he waddled off happily in the grass. Or, as I heard later, just sat there like a dead bleached turtle.
Larger animals, on the other hand, were almost immortal. The box turtle and the bullfrog both defecated large quantities and climbed on the poo to escape (ingenious - top of my list of worst-case scenario escape plans). Tom the cat was shot by B.B's, but Pansy, his sister, who escaped after we moved, returned five years later. Sweet Pea the nasty cat took a one-way trip to the Humane Society after Dad died and I did not miss her.
Obviously the smaller pets are the least durable. Birds in particular are far too fragile to be pets. My grandmother had a canary named Tweety (I did not name it) who died while flying freely around my amputee grandmother's apartment. She looked around for Tweety, did not see him, looked on the carpet and saw a pair of wheelchair tracks leading right to (and over) Tweety's lifeless corpse. (We tried not to laugh when she told us about it.) Mom gave her a box turtle as a replacement.
Sandy, my sister-law had a lovely Sun Conure parrot who loved breasts. It would unbutton your blouse with its beak to get to your bra straps and chew on the plastic. It would snuggle into Sandy's ample bosom. And then one day, Sandy woke up from a nap and saw two claws and feathers sticking up out of her cleavage. Crushed by her boobs. Tragic.
I thought of this when Gary insisted the dogs have steps so they can climb up to a Bed of (Potential) Death. I didn't want to say anything to upset the Great Chain of Being that exists in our house: rocks at the bottom, then the germs, then Gary, then the dogs, then me, then the angels and archangels. Besides, I think Gary feels that if he rolls over on Mac or Doug they will just use their superior strength to toss him over the side of the bed.