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People Who Treat Their Dogs Like Children

So far since I started this blog no one has outright flamed me and called me a jerk, but I think today might be that day. I know many of you out there are dog lovers and I fully expect to hear from a couple of you.

Let me start by saying I've never had a dog. I never even wanted a dog. Once I dog-sat for my brother's dogs for a weekend and I thought I'd die from the pressure (because in those days, those dogs WERE his kids and I was terrified one was going to die on my watch). I don't really like dogs. I think they're cute and adorable and what not, but I also think they stink, they make a big mess and they're expensive. I've already got two kids who are cute, adorable, stinky, make big messes and cost me a ton of money why in the world would I bring a dog into the mix?? Now that I've made that list I can see how people might think they're similar - but I don't.

A dog is not a child. A child is that tiny human being that lives in my house. It walks and talks and poops in a toilet (finally!). It cannot be left alone for the day chained in the yard with a bowl of water and a rawhide bone. It doesn't sleep in a cage or in my bed. It has never chewed up my shoes or drank out of the toilet.

(I do have one child who has an imagination and PRETENDS to be a dog. Shocker. She was born in the Chinese Year of the Dog and we unknowingly gave her a dog name. She never had a chance.)

I love when we go to a party and we meet "dog parents." We make small talk and it finally comes up: "Do you have kids?" I'll ask.

"No. But we have a dog."

"Oh...that's nice."

"Yes. It's just like having a child. She's our baby. Would you like to see a picture of her?"

At this point they are met with an awkward silence from the Hubs and myself, because we truly do not know how to respond. If we open our mouths, we will surely say something rude like, "Hell no. It's a dog. I'd barely be interested in seeing a picture of a real baby if you actually had one so I definitely don't want to see a picture of your dog."

Or I might say to them, "Oh your dog is like a baby? Oh really? Do you prefer Pampers or Huggies? Are you nursing? Isn't pumping a bitch? Who is your daycare provider or are you home with the little darling? Is she talking yet? Is she eating solids yet? Who is your pediatrician? Where do you do Mommy & Me classes? Does she sleep through the night?"

And then I'd just go on my rant:

Yeah, your dog is nothing like a baby.

You can knit sweaters for it and put bows in its hair and push it around in those weird doggie strollers or carry it in your Prada bag but it's still a dog. You can talk to it in baby talk and cuddle it like a baby - but it's not a baby.

Your dog is not a person.

Your dogs licks its own balls. I don't know any people who do that. You don't need to leave the TV on for it when you leave the house to run errands. Your dog does not like CSI. (And BTW you can't have it both ways. If your dog is like a baby then CSI is completely inappropriate. Real babies don't watch CSI. Better try Dora instead - then maybe your dog could learn Spanish.) You don't need to take your dog to see a shrink when it seems sad and get some Puppy Prozac or a medium so it can communicate with you. ("Your dog is telling me how much she loves you and wishes you'd rub her belly more often. That'll be fifty bucks.")

I will never go to a memorial service for a dog. (These exist, people. I've heard about them. Slide shows set to music and eulogies for Pepper the Best Dog in the World.)

I know that your dog is nothing like my kids because I'll feel bad when your dog dies. I will. (I'm not heartless!) But losing a dog isnothing like losing a child. If you lost a child, I'd be heartbroken for you. I wouldn't be able to fathom the absolute unbearable pain you would have - because that was your child.

That was the little person whose first word was "Mommy" and draws "foldable hugs" for you to carry around in your pocket so you can have a hug anytime you need one. That was the little person who loves puppies and wants a pair of damn Shape Ups. Does your baby want Shape Ups? Or an iTouch? Or a DS? I doubt it - because he's a dog.
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