Sorry, Having A Dog Is Nothing Like Parenting A Child
I like dogs. I happen to have two very energetic and lovable black labs constantly trying to nudge my hands away from the keyboard and behind their ears at the moment. I agree that pets can be a whole lot of work. Especially when they’re puppies, they need plenty of attention, potty training and playtime. Heck, they might even wake up crying in the middle of the night. But let me very clear, having a pet is not like taking care of an child.
I don’t care if you buy your dog clothes. I realize that you love it a whole, whole lot. It doesn’t matter if you carry it around with you. Even if you have to leave some social engagements early to take care of the thing, that doesn’t make your dog any closer to baby-status. Put it on your Christmas card, celebrate it’s birthday, refer to your parents as grandparents, it doesn’t matter. Your dog still isn’t a child.
Why? Let me count the ways. For starters, you can leave it home alone for hours at a time. When it’s being bad, you can throw it in a cage. It never refuses to eat or throws the food back in your face. You don’t need to start saving for doggie college any time soon. And as long as you don’t beat it, you can be pretty confident in it’s emotional stability and ability to live its life happily. In fact, even a few swats on the behind won’t hurt it.[tagbox tag=”pets”]
I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow spoiling a pet started to become the equivalent to raising a child. As if throwing a lot of money at something makes you a parent. As if all that a parent does is buy food, toys and the occassional outfit. Spending more money than you need to while taking care of an animal doesn’t turn that animal into something it’s not. It’s not a baby.
This sentiment of “having a puppy is just like having a child,” has become so pervasive and yet it’s so offensive to parents who are actually trying to raise kids. It’s belittling to the effort and thoughtfulness that we put into our job as caregivers. It’s insulting to equate the two.
The basis for this new “dogs as kids” movement seems to be that people love their pets as much as they would love a child. And ya know, that’s fine! A person has every right to love a person, pet or inanimate object as much as they would like. Have at it! I hope you and your pooch are incredibly happy together.
It still doesn’t change the fact that no matter how much love you put into taking care of a pet, it’s in no way comparable to the amount of energy involved in parenting another human being. The responsibility levels, the stress, and even the money, they simply aren’t in the same hemisphere.
So please, go on adoring your dalmatians and snuggling up with your schnauzers. I’m going to give my mammoth dogs a good rub down in about fifteen minutes. But stop referring to the work that goes into petcare as equivalent to parenting. No matter how much you love your pet, unless you’re interviewing for its acceptance into an elite pre-school or worried about the impact of time-outs on its emotional development, caring for your dog is simply not as intense as raising a child. And you should stop pretending that it might be.