Here’s how often people choose their pet over a loved one, and 12 stories that we found hilarious.

Thanks to our brand partner, ING

I tell people I have two sons. Is that... frowned upon?                   

The fact that they're both four-legged labradoodles is a minor detail: they're my kids before they're my dogs. And I'm continually putting their needs in front of my loved ones, as naturally as if it were a reflex.

My Dad turned 60 last year, and to celebrate he wanted all of us kids and partners under the same roof for a week-long staycation on the NSW South Coast. I took charge making the bookings for the family, not for extra Favourite Child points, but to make sure the Airbnb and all subsequent family activities were dog-friendly so George and Charlie could attend.

These aren't the faces one should ever leave behind:

George and Charlie on said South Coast trip. Image: Supplied. 

Sure, it was cheeky. Please know: Dad LOVED having them along of course, being his "only grandchildren". His words, not mine. 

But see, right there, shows how I was raised to treasure all pets as if they were very much equal family members (as they heckin' should). I'm definitely not unique either in taking "equal family member" and promoting it to "highly favoured".

I love that ING were so committed to the cause too, that they surveyed 1,058 cat and dog parents of Australia this year for their YouGov Pet Study, to find out exactly what their relationships are like with their pets*.

They found that 57 per cent of respondents said their connection with their pet is so strong they would put their pet before their friends, family and anything else too. Even one in three (34 per cent) said they’d consider their pet as their ‘first born’ or child. 


And 0 per cent of that is surprising to me. I call George my 'first born' all the time. Even outside of the home where other people can hear.

This stat resonated with me too: one third (32 per cent) said they enjoy buying their pet’s new clothes and toys, and 27 per cent who say they would rather treat their pet before themselves.

If my dog's pyjama/bandana/KONG collections, and new annual Christmas ornament, is anything to go by... I think I'm firmly in that camp too. 

Here are the boys' 2020 Christmas decorations, which were their favourite yet.

I found 11 more entertaining stories from other pet parents I know, sharing ALL the ways they've recently chosen their pet over a loved one (including when roles were reversed against their will).


"I'm not one bit embarrassed to share that I actually changed my interstate flights to visit my long-distance partner, because I realised that while I'd be away, it would be my cat Polly's 10th birthday. Definitely worth the small fee to change the flights and delay my visit to see him... she was turning double digits! A no-brainer really. My partner even accepted and, dare I say, supported that Polly's happiness won over his." 


"My partner has started calling our 'lil doggo, Squid Babe. And that's my nickname... So Squid is sliding into Jared's DMs it seems."



"My boyfriend and I were chatting about hypothetical situations the other day, and I said that if we were in a house fire (touch ALL THE WOOD), I would save my dog before I saved him. My boyfriend has two legs, I'm sure he can make it out himself!" 

"Here is my Alfie (read: the light of my life)". Image: Supplied.


"I often turn down plans with friends if my cat Banjo or dog Sadie are under the weather. A few months back, I turned down a friend's birthday dinner plans because my dog was sick the night before... I live with my partner who was also home. Sure, Sadie has a sensitive stomach and she's always completely fine afterwards – but she's my number one (dog) girl. I felt bad so I chose her over my friend's birthday! (Even if I'm 98 per cent sure two humans looking after one unphased, sleeping doggo is probably overkill.)"


Cancelling on loved ones for your fur baby isn't a wild concept for other Aussies either: ING's YouGov Pet Study found that a quarter of those surveyed agreed that they wouldn't hesitate to cancel arrangements with their friends if it meant staying in with their pet.


"I'm as much of a born-and-raised dog person as my previous girlfriend is, but when we broke up, she actually admitted to me that a pretty major reason was because I "hadn't really connected" with her two pugs in the 4 years we were together. I can laugh about it now, but how's that for rubbing salt in the wound."

ING also found around one in four (26 per cent) of those surveyed say they would end a relationship if their partner didn’t like their pets. Ouch, Steven.


"I feel like I definitely swayed my husband on our decision to choose the house we bought versus another one that my husband loved more. We were tossing up between two houses, but one of them was on the same street as a dog park AND had a more fun backyard to keep our German Shepherds busy. I went in to bat for the dogs, and they won: house one was the winner. Sorry hubby, you can pick the next house!"

Image: Unsplash. 



"Our dog got the uncooked steak in the fridge for dinner that my partner had set out for himself. As soon as my dog laid eyes on it though when the fridge door was open (he's an excellent detective), the steak was his because there's no way I'm saying no to that face. My partner begrudgingly had two-minute noodles for dinner instead that night, which made the whole scenario funnier."


"My boyfriend and I decided we were really saving our money hard this year, and even agreed to putting a limit on our birthday spends for each other by capping it at $100 each. But what he doesn't actually know is that I bought our cat one of those fancy designer 2 in 1 Litter Box/Scratch Castles that look like a nice piece of furniture, just because I thought she might like it. She's basically royalty to me so deserves a castle of her own. It's coming in the mail as we speak, and was... definitely more than I'll be spending on my boyfriend's 29th birthday soon."

"My cat's castle that's on its way, because she's a Queen and deserves it. Image: Furrytail Australia. 


Funnily, ING's YouGov Pet Study found women (30 per cent) would rather treat their pet before treating themselves (with men being 24 per cent). Plus, 13 per cent admitted to spending more on their pet’s birthday than they did for a friend or family member’s.


"I sometimes use this tactic in reverse. If I don't want my brother/his wife and their dog to come somewhere, Ill invite them but say 'Oh sorry, it's not dog-friendly' because I know they'll prioritise staying home with the dog. Works like a charm."


"My partner Matt and I stare into our retriever Vinnie's eyes and say 'I love you' between gritted teeth more than we do that to each other, but it's just accepted that our love has now transferred to our dog. Vinnie is also the #1 spooning partner of choice now. Here is Matt spooning Vinnie instead of me."

"Here is Matt spooning Vinnie instead of me." Image: Supplied. 

Interestingly too, ING found that 32 per cent of Aussie pet parents would put their pet’s wellbeing before their own, with 31 per cent said they would even risk their life for their pet. 



"The dogs and I take up the whole lounge as priority, and Tom has to sit elsewhere. It's a nightly ritual, and if the dogs got their first, then to quote Mean Girls: ‘You can’t sit with us.’"

"You can't sit with us." Image: Supplied. 

Calling all two to four-legged friends! Mamamia, sponsored by ING, is giving the pawrents of Australia the chance to WIN a Photoshoot for you and your pet! As if we weren’t already dedicated enough to our fur children, here's a photoshoot on the cards to spoil your fluffer with.

The Major Prize is valued at $5,500 includes:

  • A 2-hour Professional Pet photoshoot with your fur child

  • High resolution digital pack (10-20 shots)

  • 3x Print Images

To enter, click here to upload a photo of your pet to suppawt us on the hunt to find Australia’s favourite fur-baby. We're looking for the most original, creative and fun photo of your cat or dog that truly shows their personality.

Feature: Instagram/@_tamaradavis_/@whatshellsaid/ @sadieandbanjo


T&Cs apply. The information is current as at publication.

Prize is inclusive of GST, non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash.

*Research was undertaken by YouGov, commissioned by ING in Australia in April 2021. Total sample size was 1,058. The figures are representative of Australian cat and dog owners aged 18 years and older. Find more information here.

This article was sponsored by ING (ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292 and written by Mamamia. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and affiliates and do not represent ING Bank.