baby

Wendy Squires: "As far as I'm concerned, I am a mother to my dog Iggy."

Want to know how to infuriate me, to shit me to the point where I have to walk away or hand out a personality reading you may never get over?

Just say this: “It’s only a dog!”

In the past it has always been a parent who has lobbed this vile volley at me, comparing my love for my dog Iggy and their apparent superior love for their biological offspring.

And so, when I started reading a New York magazine article this week titled ‘Pets Are Not Children, So Stop Calling Them That’, I counted how long it would be until the writer, one M.A. Wallace, would reveal they had kids.

The answer came in paragraph four, which reads:

“I have two children, and when I meet people with pets who equate their experience to mine, I don’t know how to react. I should be able to say, ‘Please don’t equate your pet with my children,’ but something stops me; it now feels rude, practically reactionary, to insist on the difference.”

Wendy Squires' dog, Iggy. Image via Twitter.

Despite admitting this attitude is rude and hurtful to those who don’t have biological children, the writer continues.

“You can’t 'parent' a pet because you aren’t teaching it how to leave you and become an independent being. Your pet is stuck with no choice but to love you.

“When people with pets take the title of 'parent' and blur the line between pets and children, our language is distorted in a way that only adds to our confusion and anxiety. It may be a gentle delusion to think of your pet as your 'child,' but it’s still a delusion. Misnaming our relationship with pets isn’t just a lighthearted goof. It’s a retreat from the world.”

Well, M.A. Wallace, as much as I appreciate you are perpetuating the population and providing society with future taxpayers by choosing to procreate, I do not appreciate your assumption I am delusional or retreating from the world.

What I am doing is loving something with all my heart, nurturing a life as I would a child and protecting that said source of affection with all my might.

You might think my pet is stuck with no choice but to love me; however, I fear the same happens with children. Only, there’s a better chance my dog will love me to the bitter end, whereas humans may wane and waver in its affections.

Listen to Mia, Holly and Jessie discuss whether pets are children on Mamamia Outloud.

But most of all I want to say how dare you suggest my love for my pet is less valid or valuable than yours for your child. It is as rude, condescending and damn well intolerable, up there with the adage (only ever dealt out by parents), “you don’t know love until you have a child.” Do not tell me I don’t know what love is, or make out that the recipient of a whacking great slab of my heart is less deserving of said adoration because he happens to have four legs.

ADVERTISEMENT

As far as I am concerned, I am a mother. I adopted Iggy as others would adopt a child, with the same amount of desire, devotion, dedication and determination to raise him in a happy and safe home surrounded by love. And dammit I’ve done just that – something I am immensely proud of and have found endlessly rewarding.

So, why is it such a no no that I should deign to say I’m Iggy’s mum? Well, according to Wallace, it means I am confused and delusional.

“That people with pets now refer to themselves as 'mum' and 'dad' seems benign at first, a playful, innocent co-option meant to convey the deep love they feel for their animals. And if that was it, I wouldn’t be alarmed. There’s no longer any sarcasm in a bumper sticker that says, 'My Child Has Four Paws.' When people call themselves pet 'parents,' they’re not just being playful. They sincerely believe that what they’re doing is parenthood."

"According to Wallace, I am confused and delusional." Image via Twitter.

“It’s their sincerity that worries me because it can’t mean nothing that, just as we’re confronting a terrifying kaleidoscope of unprecedented societal change, millions of people are happily, willfully confused about the difference between having a pet and raising a child. Parenting is our connection to the future, the means by which we attempt to influence what tomorrow’s world will be.”

Well Wallace, perhaps you should stop and think about the world we live in a bit more before you jump to such preposterous assumptions. Because what we need today is more love and respect for each other, regardless of circumstance.

However the giving and receiving of love happens is something to be cherished and celebrated - not be graded or judged, just enjoyed. I don’t care if it’s to and from a biological child, an adopted or fostered child, a spouse, parent, friend or pet. It is the nourishment that will ensure and influence the “tomorrow’s world” you are so concerned about. (Post continues after gallery.)

Yes, my dog Iggy had a mother. And no, I don’t know what it is like to have a child of my own. But don’t tell me I don’t know what it feels like to nurture, raise, shape ad cherish another soul on this earth because I do.

So, I’ll continue to address myself as Iggy’s mum and he my child if I please. Just as M.A. Wallace will no doubt continue to consider herself superior for having biological children.

To each their own. Let’s just not call one love and the other lunacy.

00:00 / ???