My now-husband and I got our dog four years ago, when he was just a 12-week-old puppy. I posted a photo on Facebook of us holding our new fur baby with an ironic (and hilarious, if I do say so myself) birth announcement description. Following that were many photos of our new family member, doing various cute things, and at one point I even (half-)jokingly posted something on Facebook comparing how having a puppy must be like having a baby. One of my friends took that as an opportunity to let me know that I could not be more wrong. Her condescending reply to my post went something like this:
“Oh Emily, ha ha ha ha ha, how adorable. You think your puppy is like a baby! Well I had a baby 5 seconds ago, and let me assure you that it is NOTHING like having a real human child to care for. Not that I would really know because I don’t have a dog, but I am 100% confident in this statement. Should you ever be so fortunate to get married, like I did, and to bear children from your womb, which is hopefully fertile, then you will understand. In the meantime, have fun with your little joke. Toodles.”
Ok that wasn’t exactly it verbatim, but you get the gist. Now fast-forward 4 years. I, in fact, WAS fortunate enough to get married (Can you imagine life without a partner? Gah! The horror!), and it turns out that my womb IS fertile and has born me the gift of a human child. So now I am in a quite equal – nay, more qualified – position to say…
HA, TOLD YOU SO!! It turns out that having a puppy is very much like having a baby. It’s like a practice baby. And much more effective than carrying around a sack of flour for a week. In addition to introducing completely new responsibilities into your life, some of which you now have to coordinate with a partner (should you be so lucky as to have one), there are many other similarities. Let’s explore some of the things you have to do for both puppies and babies:
- Provide food and basic care → check
- Rush them to the doctor when they ingest something they shouldn’t → check
- Clean up a lot of poop → check
- Help aforementioned poop come out on occasion, which you previously thought would be really disgusting, but now just provides a great sense of relief → check
- Train them to be more independent and well-adjusted using methods that require you to listen to gut-wrenching cries → check
- Desensitize them to crazy noises like the vacuum and your singing → check
- Help them learn how to share their toys and not become possessive or aggressive → check
- Play with them a bunch to tire them out before bed → check
- Teach them new skills, which require practice over and over and over again, until you think you may go crazy, when just in the nick of time they finally get it, and then you’re simply elated and think it was all worth it → check
I could go on.
Now OF COURSE having a human baby is more work, more time and more energy, and each phase/stage lasts a lot longer. But anyone who got a dog first and then had children will most likely agree that – just like having a human baby – getting a puppy for the first time completely changes your life, requires a whole new level of responsibility, and shows you what unconditional love is. We call them our “fur babies” for a reason.
So, to my friend or anyone else scoffing at a dog person’s assessment of love and responsibility, I say…Oh, how easy it must be – you ONLY have human children to care for.