Thursday, April 23, 2009

To the dog-owners of the world

Let me preface this post by saying a few things.

1. This is not written to offend. If you are offended, please don't be. And if you still are, then leave me a mean comment. I don't mind.

2. This post is specifically geared toward dog owners. Although I prefer dogs to cats (because I am maniacally allergic to cats), I haven't noticed quite the same fanaticism in cat people.

3. The military, in my experience, seems to have an aggravated situation in the world of dog obsession. There are certainly people outside of that circle whose condition is equally grave, but it seems that a more concentrated population of, ahem, psychotically canine-loving people are in the military.

4. This is not directed to people who have both dogs AND children. (I have many family members who do, and their dogs are a part of their family. Not a replacement for their children, but a valuable and loved household member. That's cool.) This is only aimed at those who feel dog ownership can replace - nay, exceed - parenthood.

6. I am not a dog hater.

This post is the result of much thought on the subject of dog ownership. But one experience in particular has brought my (cynical) thoughts to the surface - and on the internet for all to see. This week I attended an event where several women went around the room introducing ourselves. When it came to my turn, I said my name and then, unsure of what else to say (I was only the third person to speak and it hadn't yet been clearly established how much to reveal about ourselves), I stopped there. The question that followed, for some reason, absolutely rubbed me the wrong way.

"Do you have any pets?"

My immediate thought was, "Why in the heck would that be your first question?" Isn't a more typical question, "Where are you from?" or, even better, "Do you have any children?" But PETS? You have got to be kidding me. I politely answered, "No. But I have two children." The introducing game continued, and when it came to said girl's turn, she said, "I don't have any kids, but I have two [insert breed] dogs, and I treat them like my kids."

That little event got my wheels turning and I've been pondering on the state of humanity ever since. And I have a few things to say.

I understand that dogs can provide good company. The affection one can feel for a pet is strong. Pets are a big responsibility, and in that way they are similar to children. Like plants, pets and children need food, water, and care. And if you go out of town, you have to figure out what to do with them. But there, I feel, is where the similarities stop.

How dare - HOW DARE - you compare you owning an animal to my experience of being a mother? Do you honestly think purchasing a dog even compares in any small way to the experience of physically bringing a human being into this world? Do you really feel that you going to Walmart and buying dog food is in the same realm as nursing a baby, with all the associated emotional and physical toll? If you have never had a child, you couldn't possibly understand the depth of love you feel for one of your own children - a flesh-and-blood creation that you had partnership with God in giving life to.

So please keep all comparisons of having dogs and having children to yourself, until you have children of your own. At which point, you will probably realize how foolish you were to ever think the two were comparable. Thank you.

12 comments:

Amy said...

Do said dogs happen to be Rottweiler's? Just curious. Tell me what you know and if they are, I have something to share with you.

Melissa Andreasen said...

I AGREE 100%!

Elise said...

Amen!

It is so sad when people think pets really are a replacement for kids...boy are they missing out on life.

sam and brittney said...

I totally agree and I hate dogs!

Jake Miller said...

I don't think there is a single child in our neighborhood, but virtually everyone has a dog. It seems like an insufficient way to try and drown out the natural drive to fulfill one's life by having children.

Deidra Smurthwaite said...

I totally agree! And it absolutely drives me crazy when people call their dog their child! Grrr.

kate said...

I want to thank you for posting this for 2 reasons- 1)I've been thinking the same exact thing recently and 2)the way you described it was awesome and hilarious!
Pets can be a good thing, but the whole obsession people have with them makes me never want to own one. Why don't people just have kids? They are, afterall, a lot more entertaining! :)

Lacking Productivity said...

This is the post I have started and stopped literally, probably 10 times. I have pretty intense, dog-loving family members who would probably hate me, thus I have not yet taken the risk, because the repercussions could very well not be worth it.

Here's hoping they don't read your blog comments ;D

I do not any kids or pets, however I am on no level naive enough to think the two compare. Yet, on a regular basis, I have people telling me to get a dog, so I can practice being a mom. Quoi?

How can one assume that pouring bowls of dog food and water, to leave on the floor, so the dog can eat at its leisure compare to feeding a child? I can't even really compare that to feeding my husband.

And how changing a diaper similar to scooping hard poop in the backyard, and we are not even talking about baby blowouts here, where its all up the back, down the leg, etc.

And what about social issues? Are die-hard, obsessed, dog lovers concerned about their dogs ability to get along with other dogs, or do they think about what the other dogs think of their dog, or worry about if their dog has friends or not?

Okay...since this is now the length of a post, and I am getting riled up, I'll stop here.

Thank you for your honesty.

Lindsay & Kenny Weston said...

Ditto. I hear that comment all the time from men when their wives want children and they don't. "Just get her a dog". As if that's supposed to satisfy her innate desire to be a mother. Bug.

p.s. your hair is freaking cute and I'm so glad you're blogging again.

Annie said...

I just thought of something that maybe didn't cross your mind...

There are some people out there that would do ANYTHING to have the change to physically bring a human being into the world, or to nurse their own baby, their own flesh and blood...but they can't. Because that gift hasn't been given to them. Sometimes a pet can fill that hole and take that place. Personally, I'll never understand that (because I HATE pets), but I do know something of the extreme pain and hurt that comes of waiting to be blessed with a child of your own, and sometimes you just need to focus on something else to fill that need to nurture.

Just a thought.

Carrie said...

I would give anything to have a child, one born of my own blood or of another. For the past 9 years, this has been my goal. Yet, after years of temperature charts, pills, shots, thousands of dollars for procedures, adoption classes, more money in fees, home inspections, even a miscarriage, I'm no closer to having a child than I was 9 years ago. A dog (or any pet) can often fill just a small part of that emptiness from being childless. A dog can love unconditionally just as a child does. Perhaps it is different for someone who chooses a pet instead of a child. But for those of us who do not choose to be childless, a dog can ease that excruciating pain inside of not being a mother.

Angie said...

Amen sister. Amen. It drives keith CRAZY when people compare their dogs to children.