Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Your Dog is Not a Baby

I've seen this picture (and many like it) floating around the internet for a while now, and I bet you have also. It's fine. I don't personally ascribe to the assertions, but I get it. I do. I do think that if you invite people over and then let your dog act like an asshole you're a poor host, but that's me. If this is really your stance, I'm fine with it.

The thing that gets me is that the people I see post this stuff on social media are often the people who refer to their dogs as children. They call them "fur babies" or "my kids" or whatever other manner of silliness that equates owning a dog to being a parent.

Oh man, I hope I applied to enough good preschools
This has bothered me for a long time. It's been at least seven years, maybe more. It's been so long that I've had this post sitting here as a draft for at least a year. I haven't been able to write it though because so many of my friends seem to hold this belief.

Look, I'm going to say this straight out: your dog is not a baby. Your dog. Is not. A baby. It's not. It's not even close. Yes, you love your dog. You love your dog a lot. You love your dog more than you've ever loved any human. That's fine. You say you love your dog as much as I love my kids. That's asinine.

I have dogs. I love them. Before I had kids I indulged the dogs. We had an awesome time. I know what it's like to have dogs and no kids. I love my little furry friends, but even before having kids I knew I wasn't parenting my dogs. First of all, they were two-years-old when we got them, so they were basically adults. Second, they're dogs.

"You're home!"
The real issue is one of actual responsibility. Sure, there are some similarities. Both parents and owners have to keep their charges fed and clean up poop. Dog owners have to occasionally worry about getting a sitter. Both worry about proper socialization behavior. Both need regular doctor visits and can't brush their own teeth. You can't leave either in a car while you're shopping. That's where similarities end.

"OK, I left some water. See you when I get back"
I can leave my dogs home alone for a few hours while I go to work or run errands. Can't do that with a baby. In some states you can't do that with a kid until they're older (in human years) than many dogs will ever get to be.

When it comes to Tater Tot and Saracen, I'm not worried about the long term psychological effects of bullying or the public school system . I don't think about what pressures society might put on my dogs vis-a-vis their gender identities. I have no anxiety at all regarding what my dogs will do after high school. I'm not worried that we're not saving enough to help them get through college. I never think about what I'd do if my dogs faced a tough job market.

I'm not worried about my dogs hitting puberty, because it's socially acceptable for me to sterilize them. No fears of unwanted pregnancy here. On the other hand, had they not been rescues I could have arranged breeding for them. That's frowned upon with American children. Besides, my dogs have each other. They're best friends. I worry about my kids starting to date and how I'll handle those early relationships that I know are going to end in tears. I worry about what kind of example I'm setting for the kids in how I interact within my own marriage. I worry that they'll be hurt, that they'll be damaged. I don't really have those concerns for the dogs.

But the main problem is that if I had a list like the one above you'd all think I was a horrible parent. Let's recap, but imagine it's my three kids we're talking about.
1. I live here, you don't.
2. Sniff test is mandatory
3. If you don't want jam on your clothes stay off the furniture.
4. Chances are my parents like me more than they like you.
5. To most people I may be an obnoxious spoiled child, but to my parents I'm an angel who can do no wrong.
6. If you're nice to me...well, no promises.
So no. You're dog is not like a kid. Because there are people who support you letting your dog act like a brat.

Thanks to the folks at the Dad 2.0 Summit Porchlight DadSLAM for the feedback and encouragement when I workshopped this as a reading.


  1. If you think this is funny on screen, you should hear it read by the author as I did this weekend at Dad 2.0 Summit. Hi-larious.

    1. Thanks Casey. If anyone wants something similar to the experience just imagine it being read by a generic muppet.

  2. So true.I really like dogs too but find it ridiculous when people refer to their dogs or any pet for that matter as being equivalent to a child. It's not even close.

  3. I >>LOVE<< this piece! Your sentiments mirror my own! Thanks for having the courage to speak your mind in such a respectable way.

    1. I'm glad it came across that way. I was worried about going off on a rant and offending all my childless friends who post pictures of their cats inside of things every day.

  4. You know it gets really bad when people dress up their dogs like humans- some funny pics there for example

  5. At last something real, my partner treats our dog like a baby, its ridiculous and our dog doesn't respect him for it. He insists we are mummy and daddy, which is an insult as I have 13 and 18 year old. The poor dog hasn't got a clue what a baby is and is happy as long as we love her, feed her and take her for walks, unlike my teenagers. Dogs 100% are not replacement babies.