I came home to find these on my kitchen counter the other day. When I asked my husband what the reason for the unexpected surprise was he smiled and said “Happy Mother’s Day.” If you’ve been on this blog at all you know we don’t have children, at least not in the traditional sense. We have two dogs, Tequila and Sangria, who we treat – for the most part – like human children. Now you may think we’re crazy, but here’s why we see having dogs the same as having children:
They require training. Just as parents of human children train their offspring in the way of the world and how to behave we teach our ‘girls’ that there are rules and expectations. And like any other mother, I often find myself saying the same one-liners that my mom used with me and my siblings – “In or out,” “Don’t do that,” “Don’t touch that!” “Be nice to your sister!” “What is on your face?!”
They need discipline. Part of training is discipline. Our girls get time outs and spankings just like other children. They know when they’ve done something they aren’t supposed to. The only difference is they can’t try to talk their way out of it or point fingers at each other. They are however pretty good at letting each other take the blame by playing innocent at the opportune moment especially with those big brown puppy dog eyes!
Our lifestyle is dictated by their needs. We always consider their needs in any decision we make. At home we need a yard for them to play in and room for all of us to be comfortable. We plan potty breaks when they travel with us. We make sure they stay healthy through exercise and daily interaction. We make sure we have food and supplies they need at home and in the car and budget to meet those expenses.
We have toys everywhere. They are all over the house, in the yard, in the car and constantly underfoot to be picked up and put away. It’s not uncommon to open the door of either of our trucks and have a tennis ball roll out.
We have doctor visits. Annual checkups and vaccinations along with occasional emergency visits are part of being a pet parent, just as it is with human children. Granted they can’t tell you where it hurts as easily as a human child, but it’s just as upsetting when they don’t feel well.
We have play dates and sleep overs. Literally. They have doggie friends who we arrange to have play dates with and when friends go out of town we often ‘baby sit’ their dogs in our home, hence sleep overs. Granted this hasn’t happened since we moved to Anchorage from Kodiak, but I’m sure as we get established it will begin to be a regular occurrence again.
We do the daycare run. When my husband is away or we are both working full-time we do Doggie Day Camp at least once a week so they can socialize with other dogs and people and work off that pent up energy they have.
We use baby-sitters. Of course we don’t need one just to go to a movie, but if we plan to be out of town we have to find a ‘sitter’ to care for them and it can’t just be anyone. We have to make sure that person knows our dogs and will treat them well.
We have field trips. We take them to new places just to expose them to different environments and learn new things. Sometimes it’s learning what a horse is, other times it’s learning that stepping on a frozen lake may not be a good idea.
We have bed time. It may not be as routine as they are for human children, but when you tell our pups bed time, they know what to do. Actually they are usually better than human children in that department sometimes going to bed all on their own, especially after Doggie Day Camp!
They have cute little accessories. Due to my allergies I’m not supposed to bathe them any more so we now take them to a groomer periodically. When we pick them up they usually have a bit of bling to show off! They also occasionally sport fancy or frilly accessories that are just too cute for me not to purchase. And I have been known to dress them up for Halloween, make them wear bunny ears for Easter or get them jingle bell collars for Christmas.
They make messes and create laundry. Daily. Remember the name of this blog starts with DUST BUNNIES. We don’t own anything without dog hair on it, there are usually dirty paw prints across my floors and my backseat and there is constantly ‘nose art’ on my vehicle windows. Cleaning all that up along with them creates as much laundry as a human child.
They act like siblings. They fight and then make up and play 2 minutes later. They pick on each other yet defend each other to other dogs. They always want the toy that the other is playing with – even when it’s the SAME toy! And most importantly they know each other as sister, because that’s how we speak to them.
We understand each has her own personality and needs. Sangria is a free-spirit who is always ready to play while Tequila is more emotional and brooding. They each have their preferred method of interaction, just as I described here. Neither is right or wrong, they just are who they are.
And when you factor in that they will never ask to borrow the car, require college tuition or make us unexpectant grandparents I’d say they might just be better than human children on some levels! However, the downside is that we plan to outlive them and we know they won’t carry on our family traditions or legacy.
We aren’t those fanatic pet parents who celebrate every doggie birthday and always celebrate Mother’s and Father’s day. It’s just something fun we do every now and then. (Although I guess we’ll be celebrating Father’s day in some manner this year since I just got flowers for Mother’s Day! LOL)
We also didn’t swear to never have human children, we just don’t right now. Our dogs LOVE kids. As in when friends visited with a 7 month-old Tequila couldn’t get enough of having her ears and lips tugged on! We know that if we were to introduce a child into our ‘family’ the dogs would have some adjusting to do, but would be perfectly happy to welcome a sibling to the pack. And if we do, we’ll already have Parenting 101 under our belt. Guess we’ll have enroll in Parenting 102 for that adventure! 🙂