Are You Ready For A Kid Because You Have A Dog?

I’m crazy about my dog. So much so that it embarrasses my kids. “Please don’t talk to the dog in that voice while our friends are here,” they plead. That voice is the reserved-only-for-him, baby talk-ish language I’ve (purportedly) annoyingly developed when talking to Spike.

My husband ranks himself #3 on my list of importance. My kids, he claims, own the #1 spot and Spike captures #2. He may or may not be right. I’m not at liberty to say.

But as much as this dog owns a huge piece of my heart, I’m also a mother to human children. If you have a dog — but don’t have kids — I’m gently suggesting that as much as you may love or dote on him, having a dog is not like having a child. Your dog is a wonderful, beloved addition to your family but, again, not a child or even like a child. If you have a dog and you’re thinking about having a child, please don’t delude yourself that raising a human baby will be anything remotely like life with your pup.

Here’s why:

1) Ownership. Brace yourself for this one: You don’t own your children. Your dog, however, is your property. Your children are simply loaned to you on a temporary (but sometimes seemingly endless) basis. Your children belong to themselves. You may be their instructor or role model, but you will never be their master.

2) Sacrifice. Yes, taking care of a dog requires some sacrifice. You may lose a few nights’ sleep when he’s a puppy or when she’s sick. But the sacrifices you make for your children, although done willingly, are countless. You may sacrifice your career goals or hobbies. You will, inarguably, sacrifice the overall freedom to live and do as you please. You may sacrifice the bloom of youthful escapades. But your dog will never require you take a huge chunk of your pay and stash it in a college fund. Your dog will never necessitate a move to a bigger home or safer neighborhood with a better school system.

3) Care. Before you walked out the door this morning, you gave your dog a pat on the head or a quick hug. Then, seamlessly, you walked out the door. Perhaps you went to work for the next ten hours or just ran out to do a few errands. With kids, there’s at least a decade before you can do anything like that. Small children (and some teens) require constant supervision. All eyes on deck all the time. Reflect for a moment on how this would or will change your life.

4) Unconditional love. Your dog gives it to you. Your kids can’t and won’t and shouldn’t. I’ve never walked in the door when Spike hasn’t been ecstatic to see me whether I’ve been gone five minutes or five hours. Your dog thinks you’re your best self every minute of every day. Your kids will never see you that way no matter how many brownies you bake or how much spending money you provide.

5) Communication. I know when Spike is hungry or needs to go out. I know when he’s tired or when he wants to play. I know because we’ve developed our own way of communicating. But Spike will never tell me hates me because I won’t let him stay out past midnight. He’ll never get in trouble at school or fight with his siblings. He’ll never throw a tantrum in Target. He’ll never petulantly inform me that he didn’t ask to be born. Conversely, he’ll also never tell me he loves me (aloud) or acknowledge the sacrifices (see above) I’ve made for him. He’ll also never make me as proud, delighted, and humbled as I am watching my sons grow into young adulthood. #schleppingnachas

6) Legalities. You can leave your dog for a few minutes alone in a cool car with the windows open. You can put your dog behind a gate when company’s over. You can send him out to the yard unsupervised while you vacuum. I do not condone doing any of these things with young kids. The law doesn’t either.

7) Training. Kids can be taught and guided. Dogs can be trained. And never the twain shall meet.

8) Grief preparation. Spike will be 13 years old in the spring. If life continues in a normal trajectory, I will lose him in the next couple of years and I have to prepare for that. Yes, parents lose children. That’s unquestionably the worst thing that can happen in this life. But although we worry about our kids’ safety, we don’t anticipate that kind of loss and we pray fervently we never have to. Just getting a dog is brave because, when you do, you’re knowingly signing up for losing him. But every joyful day with your dog is well worth the journey to whatever sadness or challenge awaits you. And, as it turns out, that also holds true for having kids.

 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *