Let me start by saying I don’t know much about dogs. I didn’t grow up with a furry best friend, I don’t know how to be a pack leader, and I never understood “dog people” who treated their fur babies like real babies. That was, until about four months ago when a Maltese named Vito pawed his way into my heart. It was then that I finally discovered what all the furry fuss was about: dogs are babies that never grow up.
Babies that never grow up! How come nobody ever told me that? Could there be anything better than an always precious, always needy, always loving baby that never grows up, never grows attitude, and never grows wings to fly the nest? No!
My fellow Babble writer, Jenny recently wrote a piece about how dogs are not practice for having a baby, and I couldn’t help but disagree. Caring for my dog reminds me a lot of the special care and consideration I bestowed upon my kids early on. I only wish I’d known then how much livin’ la vida Vito could have prepared me for parenthood!
Take a look at 10 ways having a dog absolutely prepares you for kids:
1. Dogs keep you up at night.
Babies wake several times during the night and guess what, so do dogs. Our dog may not sleep in our bed, but he does “sleep” in our room … loudly. When he’s not scratching, licking, chewing, or otherwise rattling his collar, he’s snoring, sleep barking/growling/whining, and roaming the perimeter of our room.
2. Dogs can be picky eaters.
Does a baby prefer bottle to breast? Carrots to peas? Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets to all other foods? My dog prefers pâté style to chunky formula, chicken to lamb, and canned to dry. Oh, and there’s absolutely no changing his mind.
3. Dogs get into trouble.
Like little ones, dogs have been known to ruin nice things from time to time. What better practice for a future child’s Sharpie wall mural than a dog who regularly chews your most expensive shoes?
4. Dogs have accidents.
All I have to say is at least babies wear diapers. I expected a few potty accidents as Vito acclimated to his new home, but what I didn’t expect was for the accidents to continue every time he had a little tummy upset or was left alone longer than 4.25 hours. I also didn’t expect to poop track the way I did when my kids were small. Did he poop today? Did he poop enough? Does his poop look weird? Why won’t he poop? Is his poop supposed to be this color?
5. Dogs require division of care.
Sure, there’s feeding and walking, but there’s also bathing, brushing, vet appointments, and taking the dog out at wee hours to pee. One person could do it all, but in a family, one person shouldn’t have to. So go on and practice equitable division of care for a dog long before your human baby. I only wish we had.
6. Dogs are a big responsibly.
As much as we pride ourselves on domesticating kiddos and pups, they’re the ones who domesticate us. Dogs are wonderful practice for planning around the needs of someone other than ourselves. So whether you’re heading home early to let the dog out or so baby can nap, you’re managing the care of another — on their schedule.
7. Dogs are expensive.
Once a dog owner discovers that a dog costs more than a bag of kibble, they’re uncovering new and creative ways to pay for unexpected vet visits, prescription medicines, foods, and shampoos. If you ask me, that’s mighty good practice for anyone foolish enough to believe babies are affordable.
8. Dogs smell.
And I’m not just talking about yucky dog breath and killer silent farts. Dogs smell like … dogs. It’s that musty, wet-even-when-they’re-dry smell that takes a bath to remove, if only for a few hours. Sound like any sweet but oh-so-stinky babies you know?
9. Dogs force you to rely on your instincts — and theirs.
Dogs and babies develop and survive by instinct. Caring for both requires learning how to trust your own.
10. Dogs uncover a special place in your heart.
I never knew I could love a dog as much as I do, or how happy I’d be to turn my schedule upside down for him, cuddle with him, and care for him. I never knew how much companionship he’d offer me, how social he’d make me, or how much fun simply being together could be. Gee, sounds an awful lot like parenting to me.More On