Responsible Ownership

Furbabies. Kids in hair suits. My dog is my daughter. And other pieces of total lunacy.

People, just… NO.

Your dog is not your child. Your dog doesn’t WANT to be your child; your dog is completely confused by this kind of behavior. Your dog would be horrified if he could comprehend the statement.

Dogs who are “children” are usually the most lost and badly behaved dogs there are, because the relationship is entirely for the benefit of the “parent.” What parents do for children, the way parents behave around children, are nothing that a dog needs or even likes. They end up casting here and there for any kind of stability and strength and assurance. The soft ones go neurotic; the hard ones take over. Either way you have an unhappy dog trapped and being fed upon, asked to provide something it cannot and stay sane and healthy.

I love my dogs. I think they are just marvelous. I feel privileged to know them. But they are not my husband and they are not my children. I don’t mean that they are on the same spectrum but just further down it, like I might hand my kid a twenty but I wouldn’t do that to a dog. I mean that they are on a completely different plane; they are my dogs. They don’t need to be compared to the way I feel about my children or my spouse or my neighbor or the president of France.

I have enormous numbers of pages to read tonight, in a campaign known in my own brain as Thank You God For Giving Me A Project That Will Pay For Clue’s C-Section, so I can’t go on much longer than I already have, but just one more thing:

Why are the “baby” statements ALWAYS and inevitably and heartbreakingly followed by “I need to find a new home for my baby”? I’ve seen more “babies” rehomed than I’ve ever seen working dogs rehomed, more than I’ve seen even the dogs I consider neglected (like “yard dogs” or chain dogs) rehomed. It always begins with “Timba has been my baby for seven years, but now I broke up with the boyfriend/moved to a new apartment/got a different job/she bit someone/I am getting married and she needs a new home with someone who will love her like the baby she is.”

Dude, wake up. I have babies. You could no more wrest them from my grasp than you could tear my lung out, and the birth parents who choose to give up a baby go through the rest of their lives with one lung. You don’t give up a baby because you move to Reno.

What we have with dogs that we own is something very fine, very noble, very GOOD. It makes us better people. Turning it into a child substitution wrecks it on both sides. Don’t do it.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Leanna August 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

    When my dog died I was sad. Only one person said “it’s like she was your child.” I was thinking “um, no, it’s like she was my dog. I will get over this and not become a hollow shell of a human being for the rest of my days. It’s not remotely like she was my child.”

    Then I went and did what any normal person does after their dog dies, bought a small stuffed dog to keep me company and bring hiking with me.

  • Reply Julie August 29, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Right on.

  • Reply Lily August 30, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Well said and dogs are dogs. We love and do many things for them, but that does not make them our kids.

  • Reply Pai August 30, 2010 at 2:35 am

    I think you’re right i describing the dogs as being ‘fed’ on. Such relationships are almost always emotionally parasitical. When I downsized from big dogs to small dogs, I really made an effort to let them be DOGS — to dig and roll and run and all those other doggie things. The main reason toy breeds have such a bad reputation as ‘yapping neurotics’ is precisely because so many people use them as doll/baby substitutes. The owner ‘loves’ them in a selfish way that has respect for the DOG as an independent non-human being. That’s not really love, imo.

    • Reply Pai August 30, 2010 at 2:35 am

      *that should read ‘has NO respect’.

  • Reply David S August 30, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you for bringing the hammer down on one of my least-favorite expressions. I know the people who call their dogs their “babies” mean well, but it really is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship. I cringe every time someone refers to me as my dog’s “daddy,” especially with Harper. It seems so… inappropriate.

  • Reply Marie Finnegan August 31, 2010 at 12:35 am

    A freaking men!!!

  • Reply claire August 31, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I think a lot of people call their dog their “baby” when they are trying to rehome it because they think it will get them more sympathy, as “She must be so sad to give away her dog if she calls it a baby! She must be in truly dire straits, not just an irresponsible loser” even though most people can see through this pathetically transparent ploy.

    I call my dog my furbuddy, not furbaby. Too close? And yes, I say “who’s my fuzzy-wuzzy-kins?” when he’s licking my face. Doesn’t mean that I assume he has the brain of a child in that little fuzzy skull, it’s just fun to talk that way sometimes.

    I do feel sad for small dogs dressed up in baby clothes and carried around like human babies, though… Lady, your dog can WALK. He has legs, what else are they for?!

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