P1010900 380x483 My dogs are my kids.

Avi and her two dogs.

by AVI VINCE

Fear not.  This is not a post on how I treat my dogs like children or what I dress my dogs in (I leave that to Paris Hilton) or how I carry my dogs everywhere in an oversized bag (again Paris Hilton) or that I think having dogs is exactly like having children.

I am fully aware that having children is far more hard work than having dogs.  Dogs at least don’t talk, can walk from the minute they are born and don’t try to kill themselves by flinging themselves down the stairs when you are running after the other dog.

However, anyone who has dogs knows that there are a few similarities.

You still have to toilet train dogs – it is just that you don’t order your child to go outside to do their business.  And prior to them learning where the appropriate place to do their business is, you have to wipe up their number ones, number twos and number threes (don’t ask).

You still need to prepare all their meals and drinks for them.  They just don’t get it in a lunch tin and they don’t get a juice box.  As a dog parent, you still need to make sure you are home to give them their daily meals.  Just like small children, they can’t feed themselves.  But unlike children, no matter how old they get, they still can never feed themselves.  Actually, I take that back…some kids never learn to feed themselves.

Just like kids, you need to teach them manners.  For example, to not bark while you are on the phone, to not “accidentally” forget where to do their business, to not beg for treats and to not destroy the house while you do your number ones.  Almost the same, just for dogs we call these tricks.  If we went around boasting that we have taught our kids tricks, we might not get very favourable looks.

You get the point, looking after a dog is similar (not exactly the same) as looking after a child.  At least when the dog has nightmares, you never get woken up and asked to sleep in their kennel to ensure the monster doesn’t get them.

I think some people forget that caring for a dog is like caring for anyone else.  When I am asked to go on a work trip, I feel foolish for saying that I just need to see if it would work because of my dogs.  (I have two adorable beagles.)  I feel that people think I am like Paris Hilton and concerned about my dog not having someone to change their tutu the following day.  However, I don’t feel this is the image on anyone’s mind when it is a parent saying that they need to see if they can make arrangements for their children while on the work trip.

Parents (of kids) get a sympathetic nod: career parent challenges.  But isn’t it the same?  I still have to see if the dog sitter or my mum can help out, just like a parent has to see if their support networks can take care of their kids.

The same goes for calling in sick.  When a mum calls in sick because their child is sick and needs to be taken to the doctor, you get the sympathetic working mum nod.  However, I feel I don’t get the same thing when I wake up to find my dog has a swollen eye and needs to be taken to the vet.

When a parent says, “Sorry, I won’t be able to get to dinner until 7:30pm, because I need to bath, feed and put my baby to bed before I head out” there is a reassuring “take as long as you need.”  However, when I say, “Sorry, I need to head back home after work, feed the dogs and then I can meet you for dinner”, I usually get a lot of awkward silence.

So maybe it is just my paranoid thoughts, but I sometimes think people don’t really understand the extent of looking after cute, adorable dogs.  That you are stressed as you sit in the vet waiting room with them, trying to reassure them that the thermometer won’t be needed today.  That you need to feed them because they don’t have thumbs to use a can opener.

For some reason, everyone thinks looking after children is nothing like looking after a dog.  And I agree, after 2 hours with my nieces, I can’t wait to look after my dogs.  But there is still the responsibility to feed, wash and care that makes you an almost-mum.

Avi Vince works as a manager in a non-profit organisation. She is starting her freelance writing career and you can follow her blog here or at twitter here.



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