Something has been really bugging me lately.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a pet lover. I love my dog and my cat. I lavish them with attention and I’m pretty sure they love me back.
But every time I go on Instagram I’m bombarded with images of dogs and cats with captions such as “Snooky completed my life”, and there Snooky will be, snuggled in her owner’s arms in an image not unlike a new mum holding their baby (human baby) close to their faces for their first photos.
Let’s just get one thing clear. Dogs and cats will in no way prepare you for being a parent. Caring for dogs and cats won’t prepare you for caring for a human child. The love you feel for your dogs and cats is N-O-T-H-I-N-G like the love you will feel for your human child.
Dogs and cats are not children. They’re just not. Motherhood is much, much harder. It seems pretty simple to me.
To all the #dogsofinstagram and #catsofinstagram: Don’t get too comfortable. Most people come to the realisation that their pets haven’t in any way prepared them for parenthood when they actually have a real child. That’s when I go into bat for the pets.
Just because you then have a real child, doesn’t mean you love your dogs and cats less. You still love them, but it’s a human-animal relationship, not a parent-child relationship. Both relationships are valuable, however both relationships are incredibly different. So don’t neglect your pets once you have a baby. They don’t deserve that. They never pretended to be babies. You pretended they were babies.
Next time, buy one of those dolls that poops, wees and starts crying for seemingly no reason. Still not the same as caring for a human baby but much, much closer than a dog or a cat will ever get.
The looks on these dogs faces says it all. They are just as unimpressed with being treated as babies (post continues):
Jenny Halteman from Babble shares my sentiments. She and her husband rescued a dog they named Willie and were regularly told by others that their dog was “good practice” for becoming a parent. She says, “Not knowing any better, I took those words to heart.”
Then her daughter arrived approximately three years later and she came to the abrupt realisation that caring for a dog is nothing like caring for a baby for many reasons, including:
- Dogs don’t wake you up a million times a night;
- Dogs eat the food they are given;
- Her dog waits at the door to be let out before vomiting (mine didn’t, but that’s a story for another time);
- Dogs rarely step on their own crap.
All very true.
Dogs and cats aren’t practice for having kids. Also, pets are not:
- Pets are not a test of your relationship;
- Buying a dog or a cat isn’t a test of your partner’s ability to commit;
- Caring for a dog or a cat isn’t a test of your ability to be responsible.
Pets are beautiful, wonderful, loving additions to our families. They are part of our families. They want to love, and be loved. They deserve to be cared for and they in turn will care for you.
Stop making them into babies. You’ll be in for a rude shock if you do. Dogs have the best life when they are allowed to be dogs (same for cats).
In truth, there is NO WAY to practice being a parent. Even if you regularly babysit a niece or nephew. Granted, that’s a bit better than practicing on a pet because you’ll actually develop some practical skills, but still very, very different from having a baby of your own.
Nothing can prepare you for that.