A lot of my friends have dogs that they adore and don’t have kids, either because they aren’t at the right point in their lives yet or they don’t want kids. So when I do have the chance to get together with my kid-free friends, my story about my kid is often followed by them with a story about their dog. And I’m totally cool with that. Seriously. (Even if I can snap after too many jokes about the similarities when I’m already stressed – apologies to my sister-in-law.)
Here’s why I’m fine with you comparing your dog to my kid:
1) You’re looking for a way to relate.
For people who don’t have kids, it’s hard to know how to respond to someone droning on about changing diapers and sleep issues. What happened to the person who backpacked through South America? But both dogs and kids provide a way to talk about the domestic issues in our lives without being a total dullard.
2) They both take a level of time and emotional investment that people who don’t have pets or kids don’t realize.
As much as I love dogs, I am definitely not interested in getting one. They simply require too much time, emotional energy and attention that I don’t have. Dogs (unlike cats) are very social animals who need a lot of interaction to thrive. While you obviously have a very different relationship with your dog than I do with my kid, I totally respect your level of commitment to them and desire to talk about them.
3) They both rely on us for everything – and get into trouble when they don’t.
Dog stories and toddler stories are remarkably similar. They too often end with something destroyed and / or eaten that really, really shouldn’t have been.
4) We both have to deal with poop entirely too often.
Especially because my husband and I cloth diaper our son. At least we don’t have to pick it up in the yard. But total poop solidarity.
5) They’re smarter than my kid – for now.
Taking problem solving, language and social understanding into account, the average dog is actually smarter as a two year old. My kid is just past one, so he has some catching up to do to your pooch.
6) Dogs really are cute.
If you tolerate my Facebook photos of my kid, I’ll totally tolerate those of your dog.
7) You do understand the difference; you aren’t dumb.
As John at the Ask Your Dad blog points out, anyone who has any social skills at all knows that a dog isn’t the same as a human child. My friends are all smart enough to understand the difference between species.
8) I respect the fact that you don’t have kids.
A lot of my friends don’t want to have kids and I completely respect that. I’m not going to pretend that your dog fulfills a baby-shaped hole in your life because you don’t have a baby-shaped hole. Chastising folks who want to tell a story about their pet after you tell a story about your kid says to them, “Only I have the right to tell a story about my home life because there is something inherently more worthy than my story about my kids than your story about your pet.” But there isn’t – we all have our individual lives and want to share them with each other. The fact that you have different experiences than me makes you interesting. Plus, we parents sometimes like talking about something other than kids – including dogs.
So what are your favorite dog or dog and kid stories?