I’m KIDDING! Settle down now. I love my kids! And my pets. In the “pet world” there are pet owners, then there are pets that own people. I like to think of myself as a mix of the former and latter. The third subgroup (who has taken a lot of heat from those who disagree) feel their pet gives them the right to claim that they A) Know what being a parent is like and B) Are fully prepared for impending parenthood based on the fact that they have said pet. I’m not here to bash those people (My cats are part of my family too!) I’m just gonna touch on why that’s a little true, and a lot wrong. After adding kids into the mix I’ve learned a few things…
1. Your pet, like a baby or child, may sometimes get up in the night to pee. The difference is the kiddo won’t wander outside, sniff a bush, do his or her business and then come back to bed with a simple “Come!” and fall asleep again. A baby will get up somewhere between 1 and infinite times per night to pee, poop, eat, cry, and fart aimlessly in the direction of your drooping eyelids. Sometimes they’ll just get up “because why not?”.
2. Pets and children are both messy. You probably know what its like to clean up furballs and “accidents” but until your pet grows opposable thumbs and applies your brand new Urban Decay eyeshadow pallet to every surface on their body with a vigor that rivals a deep tissues massage…well you don’t know the struggle (or the tears).
3. Looking after both your pet or a child can be demanding on your time. However, I have yet to hear of someone kenneling their kid and busting out of the house for some “me time” without the proper authorities being alerted. If I set my baby on her playmat and tell her “I’ll be home soon, wait right here!” she will not wait right there, and I will not be home soon because I’ll no doubt be in jail. Instead of telling the baby “Good Boy!” I’ll be telling Sally from Cellblock C that I’m starting to think that “How to Train Your Dog for Dummies” wasn’t a “good enough” alternative to “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
4. Dogs and children both need to be fed, bathed, and groomed. The difference lies in the frequency and expectations of the human/pet. A dog, for example, will expect the same kind of food to appear in its bowl every day for years and each time will act like you just gave them a 10 course meal befitting a royal coronation dinner. A baby will absolutely-freaking-adore that lovingly prepared squash/carrot puree on Monday, hate it with the fire of a thousand suns on Tuesday, and cry for then eat all the squash off of your plate on Wednesday. Don’t get me started on how they’ll look like something from The Walking Dead if you try that “once a month” doggie bath schedule. Brushing their hair? Not the leg-shaking good time your dog dog has. More like rafter-shaking cries to alert everyone in a 10 block radius that ponytails are indeed the devil’s preferred hairstyle.
5. You spend money on your pets just like you would a child. The average cost of raising a child to 18 years is said to be around $243,660 (I’d bet depending on school or special needs that could skyrocket) and by one vets calculation the cost of a dog (on the low end) over 14 years is $4,242.00. There’s a loooottttt of doggy sweaters and kitty manicures going on if your pet is costing you the same. (The downside to googling this stuff is now I’m thinking of all the nice horsies that wouldn’t’ talk back to me I could have if I didn’t have children.)
There is no doubt in my mind that pets are part of your (and my!) family. I don’t even argue against the fact that they can prepare you a little for what its like to be in charge of another life. I’m just saying until your pet not only poops in the house while your’re not looking, but then proceeds to go all Michelangelo and paints a mural on their 4 walls with the medium “turd”, lets just agree that the two are a bit different.