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Not the Same Thing

November 26, 2013

It needs to be said. I’m sorry to be the one to say it, but it’s necessary. For some of us, it’s going to hurt. I’m warning you now.

Your dog (or other pet) is not a child.

There. I said it. I know at least 6 people have already stopped reading and 2 of them are drafting emails to tell me how insensitive I am. I’m not insensitive. I’m also not against having, caring for, loving and nurturing an animal. My dog is a member of our family. He makes me laugh and cry. I love him for being by my side for some of my darkest days. Miles goes on trips with us and snuggles in when we have movie night. Miles also goes outside to pee. He licks the floor and eats stuff out of the trashcan. Miles is a dog.

It’s not that I’m against loving your pet. I love Miles. It’s not that I’m minimizing the responsibility involved in caring for a pet. Pet owners do have to be willing to rearrange schedules and make accommodations that you otherwise don’t have to do. I’m also not suggesting that pets don’t add joy and comfort to our lives. When a tumor threatened my niece’s life, it was Miles who made her smile again for the first time after surgery.

What I’m saying is that he’s a dog, and it’s best for him and for me to treat him that way. I don’t know how many parents I’ve known who consider their dog their child only to one day have a child and then have a conflict of heart. Sadly, they often end up getting rid of the pet that was once so precious to them because he threatens what is now most precious to them. They pour the same obsessive attention on the child that they once did on the dog. And the result is that they force themselves to choose. If the dog is a dog, and the child is a child, no one has to choose. Are there instances where the dog isn’t good with children or other extenuating circumstances? Of course. But let me ask…when was the last time you heard someone say “The baby was allergic to pet dander so we had to give the kid away”?

Dogs are dogs and kids are kids. They aren’t the same thing. I spent a lot of nights potty training Miles not to poop in the house. That was NOTHING compared to months on end of night feedings with a newborn. I want Miles to obey, but if he doesn’t, few other than me bear the consequences. If Brynna doesn’t learn respect, she and everyone she comes into contact with will suffer. The implications are higher because she’s a person who will affect other beings. Miles is an animal. Parenting a pet involves giving up a piece of your selfishness to accommodate another. Parenting a child involves giving up every selfish bone in your body to do what’s best for that child regardless of how it affects you. I love my dog. I know you love your pet, but don’t confuse the difficulty of motherhood with scooping poop in the backyard. I’ve done both. It’s not the same thing.

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