Once upon a time when I was twenty-one years old, I wanted a baby. Because my circumstances were not good for a baby, I adopted a wriggly black puppy named Mojo-Jojo. I called him Momo and he was my baby. I took him on walks, trained him, had a great vet for him, I even took him to doggy day care at least once a week. I doted on this dog way more than I should have, but his purpose was to fill the hole where my heart wanted a baby so all this doting was justified, right?
Turns out Momo was a very poorly behaved dog (despite having two certificates from doggy training classes). He tried to bite anyone who tried to approach me, he got into the trash cans and ate an entire chicken carcass, he was hyper, rambunctious and a brat. Part of it was my fault, after all he was a dog and I treated him like a baby, the other part was that he had a predisposition towards bad behavior.
When Momo was about two it became obvious that I could not have such a pet. He was dangerous, my life was changing, I could no longer be a good pet owner and keep that dog. My dad drove us to the Denver Dumb Friends League one morning. I had previously written out a very detailed information page about Momo. I cried the entire time I filled out the relinquishment papers. I cried the entire time I waited for them to call me to take my dog. I cried the entire time I talked to the people at the desk. I cried as I hugged Momo one last time. I cried as they took him away. I cried so hard I lost a contact lens.
My dad was so loving and kind the drive home. He let me work through what I was feeling. He balanced our talk with logic as well as emotion. It was hard, but it was the best choice I made in regards to that part of my life. It wasn’t too long after that, that I met Superman (who happens to be allergic to smelly dogs).
This story might make some of you so sad. It might make some of you so mad. The point of this story is to say that I’ve been there once. I had a dog that I treated like a child, that I considered my child, that I looked at like my child. I thought that it was the same as a parent’s love for their child. I was wrong.
The love that begins as a tiny nugget that grows over a nine month pregnancy, then culminates in a huge physical sacrifice and hardship of labor. The burst of emotion and love that I felt when my midwife tossed our slimy newborn on my chest was something I had never felt before. The emotional bond and deep affection that developed over the time of my pregnancy is something that has never been matched. The deeper love I feel towards my husband from this process of raising a child together has never existed in my life until now.
It wasn’t until after I had Princess Pea that I realized how wrong I was in my belief that Momo was my child. That tiny wriggly puppy could never compare to the amazing little girl that I have. No animal is the same as a human child. It is just how it is.
Unfortunately, there is a new idea in our society that dogs and cats are our babies. They are simple and convenient replacements for having a baby. They play house as they live with our significant other, adopt a fur ball baby, and pretend to be parents to said fur ball. Here is the ugly truth: you are not the parents of a cat, dog, ferret, hamster, bird, or other non-human creature. You are the owner. Yes, you are responsible for the animal’s well-being and continued life, but it is not the same as a baby.
A cat you can leave out a food bowl, water bowl, and litter-box and leave for several hours or even days. Similar things could be done dogs: water, food, doggy door. How many toddlers can you leave alone with food, water, and diapers and leave? Sure, some older children and most teenagers can be left alone and be fine, but it took a long time to get to this point. You had to work with them. Puppies you can leave in a cage for a few hours and not have to worry about terrible consequences.
Here is the deal: your pet is not your baby. You can love them, you can call them your baby, but they are not a child, they will never be a child. Science, the laws, and even many vets will agree. We must stop running around acting like animals are equal to babies.
Now if you cannot have your own children and have a pet to help with that void, that’s fine, but to play house with your non-spouse and pretend that animals are babies is nauseating. They are animals. Do NOT post things like this on Facebook:
This is ridiculous. Parvo is kennel cough. It is a cold. Could you imagine if I posted a similar thing about Princess Pea: Oh please pray for my child she has a cold. I would no doubt get those who would say “I’m praying for Pea.” And “Poor Pea, she’s so sweet” blah, blah. But people would also think that I’m being silly for asking for prayers that my healthy, normal, regular, toddler to get over a cold is stupid. Of course she is going to get over a cold. To ask for prayers and sympathy that a dog get over kennel cough (which is treated by medication and rest) shows how backwards we have become.
Calling your pet “son” or “daughter” is as vile as me calling my child “a pet”. If you want to play house, grow up, get married, and have children. Stop living the fantasy. If you feel that the fantasy is all you can do, then stop sharing your fantasy with us. I’m done with seeing Grandma to a great puppy bumper stickers. I’m done with reading your posts of how your cat is the same as baby. They aren’t the same; they never have been and never will be. Ask any farmer: animals have a purpose, that purpose is not to be a pawn in our role playing game.
If you must LARP about your life, fine, that’s your choice, but don’t compare your pet to a baby, it’s a big lie and a slap in the face to REAL families everywhere.