I’m pretty sure that Elizabeth Broadbent is either afraid to step out her front door or rubbing her hands together and saying, “Yes… yes… let the outrage flow…” after writing No, Your Dog Is Not Your “Baby” — Saying That Is An Insult To Moms. After all, she did write How Dogs Prepared Me For Kids, where she extols some of the shared issues that dog owners and parents have to deal with.
And I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of “furkid” and “furbaby” myself. I’m on the side of “dogs are dogs and humans are humans: we have to remember and respect that difference”. However, I can’t deny that looking into Tierce’s eyes spikes my oxytocin. And Mischa’s, since the dog’s still alive after chewing through his dialysis cord some 6-and-a-half years ago.
However, the article does come off as self-centred and entitled. After all, as long as you care for your dog properly, control it, pick up after it, and shut it the fuck up when people are sleeping, do I care what you call it? No, I do not.
However, according to her article, Broadbent does. Very much. Because, as opposed to pointing out the fact that dogs aren’t people and it’s problematic when people view dogs as little people in fur coats, Broadbent is more concerned with the perception of dogs as baby-like creatures that hold as much or more esteem as her children do for her.
So, hey, why not go with that attitude?
Don’t call dogs your furkids
Say you love them, but don’t call them that. Because they ain’t the same.
After all, you didn’t go through nine months of body invasion, followed by…
All the pain is after the dog arrives.
And even if you adopt, you go through paperwork and waiting hell before you find yourself weak in the knees, hands a-tremble, as you weep with joy when someone hands you your child for the first time.
I won’t say I cried with Tierce or Shassi, but my hands were a-trembling. Mostly because I was pretty sure the dog was going to take a piss on them or something.
Getting a dog just didn’t stack up.
Shassi woke us up in the night constantly, just screaming. This was partly because we were going by the dog training advice of the day, which was to abandon her in the dark in a crate in a strange place to get her ‘used’ to it. That lasted less than two nights. She slept on the bed or the couch for the rest of her life.
Tierce was carefully placed, in his crate, by my side of the bed. He got up once during the night to pee, otherwise was absolutely silent. Until he figured out that whining got him out of the crate. We put a stop to those antics pretty quickly with a thump on the crate and muttered death threats. Once he figured that he wasn’t getting out a second time, he settled down pretty quickly.
And hey, if you’re a mom going through the screaming needs of a newborn, give yourself a medal or a T-shirt or whatever. That’s cool, but you signed up for it, just as I signed up for being treated like a servant for the next 15 years. Waaait… just how different are we?
Let’s not talk about the time Tierce dug up the landlord’s extension cord to his fountain and chewed through it. Mercifully, it wasn’t plugged in at the time. Or the time he chewed through- wait, I’ve mentioned that before. Several times.
The Internet Confessional
One symptom of both sides is the blogging about it. Because if there’s anything more annoying than a mommyblogger, it’s a doggyblogger. So far, I’ve chronicled my failures as a Shiba parent, only to have people constantly contacting me, convinced that I’m the last word in Shiba ownership. (I usually direct them to Shiba Inu Canada, National Shiba Club of America, a reputable breeder, reputable behaviourist or a good puppy class.)
How Can You Not Say We’re The Same??!
The dog world is a lot like the mommy world, where The Kids Are Okay; it’s the parents that keep jumping on each other like starving bitches. Now, I’ve met tons of awesome people in the dog world, but I’ve met tons of people that have convinced me that Dog People Are Crazy. Some are crazy in a good way, where they spend a lot of time and money making their dogs’ lives awesome. Some are crazy in a bad way, where anyone that doesn’t completely espouse their ideas of what A Good Dog Parent does is just awful.
And we do like our judgemental crap just as much as the Sanctimommies. “I’d never buy from a breeder.” “Oh, that’s just a mix?” “Anyone who feeds their dog plain kibble is basically murdering it.” “If you don’t rescue, you’re responsible for dogs dying in shelters!”
Have you ever heard two dog people competing?
“My Sammi has just completed her Puppy Resonance Training and will be enrolled in Tracking, Obedience and Conformation in the fall. Our instructor says her responses are way above normal. I think we’ll be putting our CD on her before she turns a year.”
“Well, my Rollo has just qualified for Open and we’re going to be getting our Hunt Titles this year; I don’t see why not, since he’s been raving for the bumpers since the first time we introduced him. Not to mention, he’s going to be getting his St. John’s Therapy Dog certification…”
No, really. I have been there. Not myself, because I have a Shiba who is dedicated to non-conformity. But I’ve seen this. It’s right up there with “Little Muffie is two centimetres taller than her age group and is enrolled in Chinese, French and full-contact gymnastic yoga!”
There’s nothing wrong with having your dog or your kid enrolled in stuff or excelling in stuff. It’s just if you’re using it as some kind of bat to hit other dog people or parents with to prove how great you are. Take pride in the accomplishments of your mini-mes, not hubris.
At The End Of The Day
We’re kind of the same. Not in terms of what we have to do, necessarily, or how long it takes or how haaard it is. We’re the same because we place such a ridiculous amount of ourselves into the beings we’ve chosen to harbour. Whether by accident or design. (I’ll admit, not a lot of people get children because the kids followed them home.)
We love, we worry, we pay (and pay, and pay), we teach, we bleed a little when they get hurt. It’s not really a competition about who loves better. Anyone who tries to make it one is pretty much telling me that they have insecurities that have nothing to do with dogs or kids. You take care of those and then get back to the rest of us.
No one likes a person who puts themselves on a pedestal. You don’t like the term ‘furkids’; that’s fine. It’s the litany of how hard your life is compared to people who only have dogs to care for. It’s the smug inference that dogs can’t possibly add to someone else’s life what children have added to yours. And it’s the idea that because you personally dislike something and feel that it’s wrong for you, that it must be wrong for everybody.
Get over yourself. The furkids are okay.