Fur babies. A lot of childless women are tossing this term around these days. For some reason, it makes me cringe. God knows I love my dog, but is she my baby? I sure feel like it when I’m taking her to the vet or standing on the deck at dawn saying “Go potty. Come on, please go potty.” I am responsible for the care and feeding of this creature. But I’m not her mother. Her mother was a Staffordshire bull terrier. I’m quite aware that at 5 ½, Annie is a mature dog who will soon pass me in the life cycle, get old and ultimately die while I’m still hoping for many more years of life.
My dog is my dog, my companion, my responsibility, but not my child.
I see a lot of people treating their animals as their children. An article called “Fur Babies—An Alternative to Having Kids?” on The ‘How-To’ Dog Blog addresses this fur baby situation quite well. Writer Amanda Huggett Hofland admits that she and her husband might be using their two cats and dog as practice children while they decide whether or not they want to have human children. She talks about people who throw parties for their pets, dress them up in little clothes, tell them stories, and call themselves “mom and dad.” Although it seems crazy, she finds herself doing these things, too. But are pets a valid alternative to having children?
The blog post quotes experts who raise some interesting questions about the pet-human relationship as a substitute for having babies. Ultimately it’s not the same, they conclude, although there are many benefits to be had from owning pets.
I agree. I don’t know what I’d do without Annie. But I also know that I can shut the door and go about my life without her whenever I choose, something I couldn’t do with an actual baby. I also know that right now we’re both covered with flea bites, thanks to her thick fur. Dogs are great, but dogs are not kids.
Somehow in my mind, the folks who dress dogs and cats in baby clothes are doing exactly what we did as children; they’re playing with dolls. Except these dolls are living breathing animals. What do you think? Do you treat your pets as substitute children? Is it crazy or a good way to fill the void?
BTW, the ‘How-To’ Dog Blog offers lots of good advice about dog care. Check it out.