There seems to be a lot of controversy over whether or not owning a dog is equivalent to having a child. I’ve spoken to many of my friends with human children and they all say, “having a dog is not the same thing” OR “until you have your own child you don’t understand”. Even Oprah received backlashlast Mother’s Day for celebrating parents of “fur children”, where many of her followers insisted pet ownership can’t be compared to parenthood. As a dog owner, I can say with 100% confidence that all of that is nonsense and 100% bullshit — my dog is not only my child, but also part of my family.
I am not comparing the two — I am just saying that a pet owner is a parent and should be recognized as such. For all the haters out there, who do not believe that dog moms should be celebrated, here are my top 3 reasons why.
The fact of the matter is that the world has changed — we have more options and people today have chosen alternative lifestyles. We are not all tied to the idea of settling down and having children. When I graduated college I thought I wanted my two children and a nice house with a white picket fence in Connecticut. Hell, even two years ago I was married to the idea of having children even if I didn’t find the right partner, but having a pet has made me reconsider my end game and see that it is not necessary to have children to live a fulfilled life. I’m not saying that I’ve completely ruled it out, nor am I saying it is the right choice for everyone; I’m just saying that I now know there are other options out there to being a parent.
Think that many people have children because that is what is expected and it is part of the life plan. If you have watched the series “The Handmaid’s Tale”you get an exaggerated glimpse of old world views and the importance society has placed on having children. Even though the show is about a dystopian future, it is based on past beliefs — we were all taught to go to school, get good grades, get a good job, get married and have children. Today, that is no longer the case. If you look at the female demographic alone, many women are choosing to focus on their career over following the traditional role of getting married and having children. Many are postponing having a family, many can’t have children and many have chosen to not have children (which would have been taboo back in the day and in some cultures, still today). In the last couple of years there has been an emergence of people adopting dogs and other animals as an alternative. To these people, their pets are their children and rightly so — A parent is a parent.
Not only do dogs feel emotion, they exhibit emotion. Dogs, like humans have the capability to love, get jealous, get mad, etc. Dogs are very intelligent beings and exhibit love and loyalty in many ways. There have been many stories documented on news sites where you hear about a dog saving their owner, sacrificing their life for a loved one or protecting their family from outside threats. Just because they can’t speak our language, doesn’t mean they can’t feel and demonstrate emotions and love as we do.
Love goes both ways — we as humans love our dogs with all our hearts too. Even people with both human children and fur children will admit that their dogs are part of their family. We feel scared and worried for them when they get hurt, we smile when they are happy or just do something cute and we are there for them when they need us. When we have a long day at work, just sometimes looking at them makes you smile, boosts your mood and helps you destress immediately. When they die, we mourn them as we would a family member. We become connected — They become part of our family and we love them as we would our family member.
I still remember a horrible incident that happened when my dog was only a few months old. I had gone to visit my friend who has a cat. My dog was and is super friendly and curious — the cat was not having it and clawed her eye when she came too close. Needless to say, I was a complete wreck (and that may be the understatement of the century)— the feeling I experienced not knowing how badly she was hurt, the drive in the car getting her to the hospital wondering if I would make it there in time, the minutes which seemed like eternity in the doctor’s office wondering if she would be blind and the feeling that I would never forgive myself if she did go blind or lose an eye are moments I still remember and will never forget. My heart was racing and I could barely breathe — I honestly think I started hyperventilating at one point. She, like a child, was my responsibility and I felt I failed as a parent. I promised myself that day that I would never let anything bad happen to her again. Although I don’t have a human child, I know these would be the same feelings I would be experiencing if I did. To diminish them by saying “Oh, but it’s not a real child” or “Oh, it’s just a dog” is both unfair, insensitive and unenlightened.
Although the processes are different, there is a lot of work, responsibility and money involved in raising and taking care of a dog. Yes, we do not need to make them into upstanding members of society (though some could argue that a few elite become service dogs, therapy dogs or police dogs — Some dogs can even sniff out and detect skin, bladder, breast, colon, lung, and ovarian cancer. Specially trained dogs have been reported to sniff out skin moles and even bite them off.), but dogs need to be cared for and nurtured to develop properly and become well adjusted. Like humans, they need attention and are emotional creatures that thrive on interaction.
Dogs also need to be trained. Even though I’m not talking about higher education, dogs do need to be trained whether that is outsourced or done by you. That is both an investment in time and money, the same as a human child.
Dogs also need a lot of exercise. They can’t be cooped up all day without having the chance to get up and run around. So regardless if I just want to plop down and have a nice glass of wine after a long day, I know I have to be a responsible parent and go for a walk with the pup. I also know that I need to be home by a certain time to interact and take care of her because they are not autonomous creatures. There are a lot of things we need to do for our fur babies, but I think this cute video says it best.
So, to all the fur moms out there, I just want to say HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! I think we should be celebrated as real parents because we are real parents.
Everyone should always remember that “Being a Mother doesn’t mean being related to someone by blood. It means loving someone unconditionally with your whole heart.”