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.