There are two types of people in this world: Dog People, and Not Dog People.
I am the former.
I’ve also not had any babies of my own. The closest I’ve come to a human baby is my dog, a lovable and handsome two-year-old miniature schnauzer.
When talking to my friends who are parents, I try to relate to them and their lives. But all I have to work from is my own dog parenting escapades. When I make the dog vs. human babies comparison, some “non-dog” moms can get really cranky. “Don’t you EVER compare my kids to your…” — here some moms will wrinkle up their noses and make a ‘someone just farted’ face — “…your dog.”
I resent that remark, because dammit, I’m trying to make a human baby. But until that happens, my dog is the Infertile Girl’s Equivalent.
For example, a mom will complain that she ‘can’t go shopping around town with two kids, because all that getting in and out of the car would suck.’ So I try to sympathize: “I hear ya — I can’t take my dog to strange places, because he barks and pulls on his leash and it is equally sucky.”
Then I get the ‘someone just farted’ face and accompanying comment. Yeah, I understand — it’s not the same thing. But it’s the closest I can come to relating, so too bad, dog-hater.
The comparison is not an insult to your kids. In fact, my dog and your human baby are not really all that different.
How my dog is similar to a human baby:
- He poops a lot
- He eats a lot
- He sleeps most of the day
- When he was little, he woke me up at all hours of the night
- He drags his toys out into the middle of the living room and leaves them there
- He doesn’t like strangers
- He wants to sleep in our bed
- He loves to cuddle
- He loves his mom and dad more than anyone in the world
- He is endlessly fascinated by laser pointers
Now, more importantly, how are my feelings toward my doggy similar to a parent’s feelings toward a human baby?
- I worry about leaving him with other people
- I think about how I could not live with myself if anything happened to him
- I miss him when I’m away
- I have recurring nightmares (awake and asleep) about him running into traffic, getting backed over by my car, smooshed by the garage door, and many other mental images too awful to mention
- And so on and so forth
I hear it all the time: “You will love your own baby soooo much more than you love your dog.” But right now, I can’t imagine I could love something more. I love my dog so much its painful. The agony I’d feel if anything happened to him would be so awful, sometimes I wonder if I should even have a dog. (I’ve heard people say the same about human babies.)
Human baby love and doggy love are two different planes, but until you’ve experienced both, can you really tell someone on the doggy-love plane that their feelings aren’t real?
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how babies and dogs are way different.
- Dogs don’t learn to talk
- Dogs can’t learn how to read, write, ride a bike, play catch, etc.
- Dogs can’t help you with your Depends when you’re old and frail
- Dogs can’t give you [human] grandchildren
- Your dog will never look like you. Wait, that’s not true. Rather, your dog will never share your DNA.
And in some ways, dogs have the upper hand over babies. Dogs:
- can scrub the kitchen floor at a really young age, and will faithfully do so FOREVER
- don’t sass you or call names when they’re mad
- are always happy to see you
- don’t turn into mouthy, jackass teenagers having unprotected sex and getting thrown in jail
- will never wreck your car or throw a house party without permission
- don’t need college savings accounts
- don’t need to get dressed in the morning
- will never take you kicking and screaming to the Shady Pines Nursing Home
Okay. That’s enough, but I could probably go on for a long time.
But despite the fact that human babies are a huge pain, and a lot scarier (what if my baby terrorizes humankind? Like a Hitler or Bieber?), I still want one. And I will say right now that I am going to do my damnedest to love both my dog and my baby ’til their ears fall off. I don’t want to be a mom who, after baby comes, treats the Former Child (the dog) like chopped liver.
Doggies serve as “practice babies” without complaining, teaching us our first lessons in responsibility and sacrifice, so we are good at it when the time comes to do it for Human Baby. We owe it to them to love ’em as if they were our own flesh and blood — but a furry, whiskered, bad breath, poop-eating, bearded version.