Well guys, I’m treading on delicate territory. I’m entering a knife fight with a plastic fork and hoping that somehow I come out on the other side with minimal damage to my well-being.
So let’s call it like it is: I’m comparing a dog, specifically my dog, to a child, and I know that’s a hot button topic. I’ve done my research, and I’ve read countless mom blogs chastising pet owners for taking the time to say having a dog is like having a toddler.
There’s a reason a lot of people say that getting a puppy is a gateway to having a real child. When you get a puppy, or even a high energy adult dog, you are suddenly taking responsibility for something other than yourself that needs you. Dogs require a good amount of supervision, a lot of puppy proofing and take tons of energy to wear out. You spend the first few months barely sleeping due to crate training (read: late night tantrums) and housebreaking.
That being said, why would we as a society see getting a dog as a gateway if there weren’t some similarities between having a child and having a dog? Well, in case you are one of those people who sees their furry friend as a furchild and really doesn’t care who knows it, here are 10 ways having a dog is like having a toddler:
Silence is not actually a good thing.
Having a high energy breed means I know if my dog has disappeared and is quiet, he’s probably eating something he shouldn’t be, getting into something, or making a huge mess. If I don’t keep an eye on my dog at all times, he could be under the sink chewing on a bottle of bleach because he likes to chew on plastic bottles (I don’t know; don’t ask me why) and is smart enough to open pantry doors with his nose. Or, he might get into the chocolate chip cookies that were left (sealed, I might add) on the counter because he thinks they smell good. Also, true story, one time my dog ate a Lego block because obviously that tastes delicious to a dog.
You cannot keep your house clean while the dog is around.
I’ve seen what toddlers can do to playrooms – I’ve babysat a few that rival my ability to explode my belongings everywhere. Dogs like to make a mess. You leave them alone for too long or even just walk away, they’ve pulled an entire roll of toilet paper out of the bathroom, shredded it to pieces and make it into an international delicacy. I’ve also witnessed my dog pull every toy out of his toy bin, scatter them across the floor and then proceed to play with a flip flop instead. Plus, the muddy paw prints, the slobber, the fur… why even bother sweeping, mopping and vacuuming?
Playtime is all the time.
You know how in Frozen they say “The sky’s awake, so I’m awake, so now it’s time to play?” Well, from the moment the sun rises until the moment they go to bed at night, it’s playtime. It’s finding new ways to keep them entertained, to put a new twist on an old classic, like fetch or monkey in the middle. Too much downtime means you’ve got a full grown dog in your lap pulling your socks off and jumping on your stomach.
You no longer have personal space.
Dogs love affection, much like toddlers, so cuddle time is all the time too. Between play sessions, you get those moments that make your heart melt. They lay their head on your lap, they fall asleep and snuggle close. It’s a rare moment, but it makes you happy to know something out there depends on you – even if it’s just for a pillow.
You never leave the house without your dog “diaper” bag.
And no, I’m not talking about what you use to clean up their bathroom messes with. Whenever we take our dog with us anywhere we pack a doggy bag. We have water, treats, a favorite toy or two, poop bags and a towel (in case he gets into mud or something). We never leave the house when our dog is with us without it. When we are going to visit family, that bag increases to dog food, dog crate, blankets, dog bed, dog bone, and anything else he might need between now and the time we come back. He ends up having just as much luggage as we do, sometimes more.
Potty training is often a tedious process.
When you first get a puppy, housebreaking is a serious thing. You are up every two hours to let them out to avoid accidents, and once you’re up you’re out every hour or so. Sometimes they have accidents, and you have to carry them outside while they’re still peeing all over the place. There are lots of treats involved, an occasional bribe; but once they get it you realize they really get it and you just feel like you’ve conquered the world.
Doggy daycare is like a mini vacation.
You know how sometimes your kids have sleepovers at their friend’s house, have a babysitter over, or visit the grandparents for the night or weekend? Well, doggy daycare is kind of like that. It’s a place where they run out all their energy and then come home either really exhausted (or more hyped up if you’re unfortunate). For those few hours though, it’s the best you time you’ll ever have. Dogs, while easier to care for than a toddler, still require a good amount of time and energy throughout the day, and you don’t realize just how much time and energy until you’ve spent three hours on the sofa and not once had to yell, “WHAT IS IN YOUR MOUTH?! HOW DID YOU GET THAT! SPIT IT OUT, NOW!”
Doctor’s visits are usually expensive and a huge hassle.
Just like not every kid hates the doctor, not every dog does either; but most animals don’t exactly enjoy going to the doctor – my dog included. My 85 pound German Shepherd doesn’t like to be restrained, so you can imagine doing anything means you’ve got a whining, barking, bucking bronco you’re trying to hold down to get a temperature from or administer a vaccine to. Then you get the bill and you wonder how you’re not the one screaming on the table and accidentally punching nurses in the face.
You will do ridiculous things to see make them happy, just to see them happy.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crawled around on the floor, jumped around like a monkey or made silly noises to get my dog happy and excited. Dogs love to play, and they love to be happy, so when you can figure out how to make the dog run for joy or cry with excitement (like my dog does when we get to the dog park) it’s just a great feeling. Playing hide and seek with your dog is fun, peek-a-boo with your dog is fun and wrestling (safely of course) is also fun.
Your life suddenly revolves around them.
There is a great quote that I’ve seen that reads, “To you they are only part of your life, but to them you are their whole life.” When you get a dog, you make a promise to do everything you can for them to make sure they live a wonderful, stress free life. You give them food when they are hungry, water when they are thirsty; you buy them toys and treats and take them almost everywhere you go. You teach them basic manners, like not to jump on guests and to lay down when asked, and drive them to obedience school to further their education. You care for them when they are sick, worry when they get hurt and cry when you are posed with difficult decisions regarding their health and wellbeing. They make you laugh, they make you frustrated, they teach you about yourself and they remind you what’s important in life.
When you are making decisions, you suddenly have to include what to do with your dog because you can’t just leave on vacation without making plans on who will watch them, where they will stay and what that person needs to know about your dog; because sometimes, parents and furparents alike need some time away from their children and pets. You are no longer just looking out for you, you are looking out for someone who, for a good part of their life, will need you and depend on you for many things. Despite all the other similarities, whether you see them or not, that dog – that furchild – needs you.
If someone loves a dog like one of their family, it doesn’t matter that they have four legs and fur, they will love that dog like a child, and treat it like their very own, birth-given human. And honestly, who are we to try and deny them that right? Sometimes people just have really big hearts, capable of loving all things, not just humans, with a maternal and paternal love.