In many ways, the internet runs on dogs and babies. Anytime something terrible happens in the world, adorable puppy videos and pictures of babies with cake-covered faces circulate online like it's the internet's users' job to share the cutest, most uplifting images they can find. Having a bad day? Check out '19 Little Babies And Their Big Ol' Lovable Dog Friends,' or perhaps the recently shared video 'Dog Gently Tucks in Sleepy Baby.' (Seriously, so freaking sweet, y'all.) To the average person, a mention of dogs and babies in the same breath (online or in real life) usually elicits "aww"s and the inevitable reach for a cell phone photo gallery to show off one "baby" or another. And considering how many people own dogs as pets now -- and pamper them like human children -- it's no surprise that the dog-and-baby internet phenomenon is still booming, as "fur parents" of childbearing age increasingly have human babies of their own. Facebook and Instagram have plenty of room to accommodate infinite photos and videos of both.
Generally, this dog-baby arrangement works out for the best. Parents introduce their first "baby" (their dog) to their new baby (named something like 'Cerulean'), and the two become fast friends and Facebook explodes with Likes. But for some people, the arrangement doesn't always result in a constant stream of joy. For instance, Allison Benedikt's rather harsh Slate article from last year, 'The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don't get a dog,' inspired my column about the dos and don'ts of talking about pets on social media. And in October, my friend Claire Zulkey wrote a similar, if much more heartfelt, piece for Fast Company titled 'True Confession: I Had A Baby And Now My Dog Is Driving Me Nuts.' It's articles like these that peel back the living room curtain to reveal a much more frenzied household than one full of sweet baby kisses and tail wags. Sometimes, people who have dogs and kids wind up finding the whole arrangement to be close to unbearable. And I'm guessing their affection for those charming dog-baby internet round-ups starts dwindling a bit, too.
It's that mindset that has led us to today's column, in which presumably level-headed parents have become enraged at the fact that people consider their dogs to be on the same level of difficulty, or even just the same level of love, as actual human babies. Whether it's hearing one too many times that dogs are "starter babies" and anyone considering having a baby should get a dog first, or simply being told that having a dog is "a lot like having a baby" (or vice versa), these parents have had enough. (Or, if you're a dog lover, e-RUFF! HAHA!) Fun fact for ya: Did you know that dogs aren't human children, and that people who exaggerate such things may very well get punched in the face by an overly hostile parent of a human baby? It's true.
Some people are so offended by the fact that dogs are referred to as (fur-)babies -- and their owners, "mommy" and "daddy" -- that they've penned articles about it. My friend Lindsay Cross, a previous editor of Mommyish, once wrote the post 'Sorry, Having A Dog Is Nothing Like Parenting A Child' out of frustration over this now-common perception that dog = fur-baby, so dog = human baby. Despite the fact that some parents get a kick out of comparing the two, such as BuzzFeed editor Mike Spohr who posted '19 Ways Having A Dog Will Prepare You For Kids,' there are angry dissenters whose mission is to remind everyone that just because science says the bond humans share with their dogs is quite like the bond humans share with their children, that simply isn't the case. And even if it were the case, it's (apparently) annoying. Almost every blog post titled something like '5 Bajillion Things Non-Parents Shouldn't Say To Parents' includes a gripe about non-parents who say "We're thinking of having a baby, so we're getting a puppy first," along with a firm explanation that dogs aren't babies, and a note that anyone who likens the two is completely delusional. Hell, even the Pope reminded people back in May that they should "have kids, not dogs," forcing a clear distinction between the two, while also echoing the studies that show that Americans are having fewer babies and adopting more small dogs.
Here are two of the comments on that lighthearted BuzzFeed post that compares picking up dog poop to changing diapers, and the ways both dogs and kids demand attention:
Okay. But here's the thing: No one actually thinks that having a dog is like having a baby. Walking a dog during unpleasant hours, picking up its poop, and occasionally forking over hundreds of dollars at the vet after a bad accident is kinda similar to having a baby, but everyone knows that you don't have to put up thousands of dollars for a dog to attend college (yet). You don't have to help a dog with its homework, teach it to use the toilet, AND nurture it to eventually navigate life as an independent being, and all of those fun-filled activities come with human children. To the parents out there who are irritated by these dog = baby claims, don't worry! They're just exaggerations! Jokes! If someone fully believes that having a dog is like having a baby, maybe just let that person go on thinking that way and silently move on. Call them ignorant in your head. Tell yourself they have no fucking concept of what it's like to have an actual baby, but don't allow yourself to get resentful, because hey, you're the one who chose to have a baby, right? Relish the experience and stop worrying about dog vs. baby comparisons. Otherwise, how are you ever going to enjoy watching this video (current views: 7MM) that shows a dog trying to teach a baby how to jump? Think about it. But first, let's check out some examples of parents who might be taking this whole dog/baby thing a little too far.
1. Pet Owners Are Not Parents
Nikki has many thoughts and feelings on this subject. It's just too bad that she felt the need to actually publish them. You'd think after writing the first 50 or so words in her status update, she'd realize she was blowing the whole thing out of proportion and being silly -- that people call themselves "fur-moms" and "fur-dads" and it really doesn't even matter -- but nope.
In fact, she had something else to say that she forgot to include. Thankfully, she thought it through, wrote it out, and hit 'Post' on that update, too.
Nikki is starting to make me think she's actually outlined all the reasons that parents of pets are not the same as parents of human children. And the outline I'm picturing isn't your basic Roman Numerals and capital letters, either. It's some intricate shit, with lower case letters and numbers and dashes and dots and all kinds of helpful notes that could, if Nikki wanted, help to back up a searing thesis on the subject. Unfortunately for her, that'd be a dissertation that absolutely no one would want to read.
2. Your Dog Is Not A Person
Hey, Brandon, thanks for not only proving your point about dogs not being people, but for also proving why so many people think you're a buzzkill at parties! Who doesn't enjoy talking to a condescending, self-righteous fuckface at a laid back get-together among friends? I'm surprised Brandon didn't include "paying a babysitter" in that rant, because you know what else dogs can do that babies can't do? Stay home alone. If Brandon was REALLY on top of his game, he wouldn't have forgotten to include that. Something tells me he doesn't tend to forget when you catch him in action, though. That is, until you find a sliver of opportunity to walk away and give him the finger behind your back.
Note to parents: If you go around asking people if they have kids, and some of those people don't have kids but consider their pets to be members of their family, the chances of seeing a cute dog picture every now and then are going to rise considerably. If you can't handle that, then don't bother asking.
3. Dog And Baby Comparisons Are Not Even Remotely Cute
Whoaaaa, there, Heather! Are you SURE you're not the Mama Bear? Because you certainly SOUND like a rabid animal who's ready pull apart the next person who makes a playful joke about babies playing fetch. Even Brittany isn't coming to your defense here. Perhaps it's time to, as the old saying goes, stick your tail between your legs and go away. You know, like a dog, but NOT like a dog. Maria didn't even make the joke everyone sort of wishes she'd made about how you're acting like a bitch, so I would take my chew toys and make my way out of the conversation if I were you, Auntie H.
4. Facepalming On Facebook
Hollie's post is a reminder that sometimes, if you post your true, rude feelings about something as benign as dogs vs babies, you might just be stepping in a pile of shit (and it turns out it doesn't matter if it's dog shit or baby shit). Every now and then, someone like Danielle is going to leave a comment that puts you in your place, much like a pet owner issuing a command to its canine subservient.
Danielle's comment is so sincere, and so reminiscent of all the scenes in "Marley and Me" that I will never, ever watch again, you can't help but think Hollie is an even bigger jerk than even she may have realized. Sure, caring for a dog or cat isn't the same thing as caring for a baby, but you know what else separates pet parents from parents of humans? Pet parents have to bury their babies. Before going on a tirade about how plopping a pug in front of a fan on a hot day isn't the same thing as sucking the snot out of your kid's stuffed-up nose, think about what other people might be going through. Caring for a dying pet is not fun, it's not cheap, and it is entirely unique to the experience of owning a furry best friend.
Finally, here's a Mom's Gold Star submission that proves that some parents do see the humor in comparing babies to dogs. See how easy it is! You just make jokes about how both babies and dogs are motivated by food -- sometimes the same food! -- or how they both make messes, or growl at unsuspecting enemies (wait...), and everyone laughs and keeps scrolling. It's so simple, and much more fun than getting pissed off over something stupid. So parents, loosen those collars and let yourself laugh off-leash every now and then. At the very least, quit barking about dog/baby comparisons on Facebook. It'll earn you several treats.