Say you love them, but don't call them your "furkid."
I have a dog. Two dogs, in fact. We got our puppies before we got our kids, and we loved them. We kissed them. We cuddled them. We bought them too many toys; we overindulged them with treats. We gave them silly pet names and let them sleep in our beds.
But never did we call those beloved canines "furkids" or "furbabies". Because the last I checked, dogs ain't people. —
Your puppy is not your child, so stop saying that he is. I have three children now, and I know this for certain — kids and dogs are not same.
Think about when you got your puppy. You probably picked him out at the local ASPCA, or selected him from the local breeder. Basically, you pointed to a dog and said, "That one."
On the other hand, most mothers went through nine months of body invasion, followed by one of the most intense physical experiences of her life. Then they dropped a baby on her chest. It was all agony and joy and angels singing.
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.
Getting a dog just doesn't stack up.
Yes, both puppies and newborn babies wake up in the night. It sucks to wake up and let a dog out but it sucks more to wake up and attempt to latch an unwilling, wailing infant to your breast.
Then, once you’ve managed to feed your bundle of joy, you have to get him back to sleep. The puppy doesn't decide to party until 5am, at which point it's time for another feeding.
Then there's babyproofing. You puppy-proofed your house — you removed all things chewable, took up poisonous plants, and provided appropriate chew toys.
When I babyproofed my house, I had to make sure little hands couldn't gain access to caustic cleaning fluids. I had to look for strangulation hazards (goodbye, Roman blinds) and put safety locks on all the cabinets (which are a giant pain in the ass).
If I failed in my duties, I'm not facing a chewed-up family heirloom; I'm looking at a dead kid and a DSS inquiry.
The stakes are a wee bit higher.
Not that owning a dog isn't high stakes. You're responsible for the feeding and caring of your dog. Pet ownership is a serious commitment that should only be taken up by those who really mean to care for an animal for the rest of it's natural life.
You're stuck with your dog ... except you're not because you can leave. Before my husband and I had kids, we traveled all the time — dropped the pups by the doggie spa, paid extra for playground time, and hopped the plane guilt-free.
I can't just leave my toddlers. Sure, maybe one day I'll be able to leave them with relatives for some overnights. But it's not quite as simple as plunking my credit card down at the kennel.
You can mostly ignore your dog. Yes, your dog lives in your house, and yes, you love it. But your attention is not focused on the dog every moment it's awake.
Five minutes of inattention on my part and my toddler's drinking bleach and bathing in the toilet.
If my kids are awake, I need to know what they're doing, where they're doing it, and what they're doing it with. I don't have to follow them from room to room, but it helps.
And at the risk of sounding like an annoying parent here: Kids do some amazing things dogs just can't stack up to. Sure, you can teach Fido to fetch, but that pride is nothing compared to your kid learning to read.
Both give sloppy kisses, but only one lisps, "I wuv you, mommy."
Potty training's more of a milestone. And can your dog draw you pictures with hearts on them?
None of this covers the myriad of things I have to do for my kids every day. My dogs watch me prepare lunches, read The Cat in the Hat, and wipe snot off people's faces.
While my pups take their business outside, my kids require constant diaper changes.
The dogs don't melt down when their favorite Star Wars figure breaks and they bite me a hell of a lot less. They don't call me a "poop-head." This is just one of the reasons I love them.
I know you'll say I sound like a self-righteous parent here.
Maybe you don't ever want kids, which you’ll somehow make germane to the discussion, but which is neither here nor there.
Say you love your dogs. Say they make your life worth living. Say they're your one-and-only. Call yourself a dog person.
But don't call your dog a baby. Don't call him your "furkid" or "furbaby."
Because baby, it's not even close.