Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sorry, folks. Dogs are not people too.

These ears belong to a dog, not a child. Just to be clear.
 Even though they are very, very, cute. (Photo by Debi Stone.)

The other night I was tucking  my 10 year-old into bed when she said, “Mom, I’m a lot like a dog.”

I took a deep breath. There were many ways this topic could go. Worst-case scenarios popped into my head as I wondered what I’d be explaining next: Bitch. Doggy-style. You’re a “dog.” Since we’d already discussed the difference between pimps and gangstas, I should have figured this conversation wouldn’t be too far behind. I mentally geared up for a discussion about self-esteem, ready to scold her for thinking so poorly of herself as to liken herself to a dog.

“What are you talking about?” I asked. (Good, non-committal opener, allowing her to explain more.)
“Well,” she replied. “I live here in this house, you feed me, give me water, and love me…just like you would a dog.”

Ahhh. So nice she is only making comparisons. “Well yes, in some respects I suppose. But unlike a dog, I have to feed you more than once a day. If I could figure out how to only feed you in the mornings, I’d be all set.”

“Ha, ha, very funny mom,” she retorted with 10 year-old attitude.

It goes without saying that kids and dogs are not the same, and yet when you think about it, have striking similarities. All of us know people who own dogs they consider to be their “children.” People get dogs to test their pre-parenting skills all the time, figuring if they can love, train, and take care of animal without killing it, perhaps they will have some success at rearing a live human. For some people it’s just the opposite: they own a dog because they can love it, play with it, take it for rides in the car, and kennel them while vacationing in the islands. Those people love dogs because their animals will never talk back, need to have an allowance, or vomit strained peas down their backs. They love their dogs because they do not love children (or perhaps just don’t want children for now)—and again, you only have to feed the animal once a day. I’m pretty sure people that do this to their children are put in jail.

Sometimes people get dogs because their own children are grown and past the point of wanting any nurturing; maybe those kids are out of the house or have children of their own, or are simply teenagers who’d rather get chronic acne than be hugged or snuggled by mom or dad. Dogs come in really handy in these situations because suddenly a tiny, furry, warm body needs you and loves you, and you can fulfill the need to be needed while your very own flesh and blood rebuffs and rejects you. And you never want to beat a puppy which helps dissolve some of your desire to thwack your teenager in the head.  

I’ll fully disclose now that I do not own a dog and am a fan of dogs on a case-by-case basis only. I’m not a dog hater per se, I just prefer cats, for reasons that would require another blog entirely. For me dogs are fine, as long as they respect my personal space (which is never), don’t slobber on me (which is never), or make my hands smelly when I pet them (which is never). I’m sure you can see why I’m such a big fan. (Yes, yes, I now own chickens, but again….that’s another blog.)

While hiking with my family in a public reserve a few weeks ago (with three children in tow including my three-year-old) we were approached by no less than five dogs, all of whom were unleashed and running ahead of their owners. While these dogs were sniffing my three-year-old’s face (while we clamored to pick her up as she’s crying nervously), and shoving their heads into our crotches and butts, their owners called out, “IT’S OKAY. SHE’S A REALLY FRIENDLY DOG!” or “DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T BITE, HE LOVES KIDS.” Hear me when I say your excuses do not make me feel less annoyed.

Perhaps if I let my children run up to these people, jump on their backs, beg for a piggy back ride, and then wipe their boogery noses and chocolately hands all over their white t-shirts, while I call out, “DON’T WORRY! MY KIDS ARE NICE, THEY JUST LOVE TO PLAY!” these people would understand how irritating it is to be accosted by a dog you don’t want to know. I don’t care if the dog is nice. Even the “nice” dogs can bite in certain circumstances. Like if my child kicks the dog away out of fear. Not that this has happened, but then whose fault would it be? Mine for not keeping my child from kicking a dog, or the owner’s from letting them run around?

But I can see how it might get confusing. Like my daughter pointed out to me that evening, there are many similarities between dogs and children.
  • Both children and dogs require food, water, and shelter.
  • Both require regular grooming, including baths and haircuts.
  • Both can be trained to perform tricks (snapping the bone from their nose and peeing in the toilet. I’ll let you guess who does what.)
  • When it comes to males (humans and dogs) they both pee standing up.
  • When they are small, both require a lot of care, which also includes getting up in the night with them. As they both age, this care decreases. (Hopefully.)
  • Dog owners and parents always think their “children” are the most beautiful creatures ever.
  • They both get ticks. Some species more than others, but ticks just the same.
  • Both like to dig holes.
  • When they are sick, both vomit and have diarrhea. Both types of owners go out of their mind with worry.
  • Vet bills and doctor bills are usually both outrageous.
  • Both children and dogs will love their owners (parents) unconditionally if treated right.
  • Both dogs and children have smelly farts.
  • Both can follow basic commands.
  • Both enjoy a biscuit every now and then.
 With so many similarities (and I only listed a handful) I can see why dog owners might have trouble remembering that a dog, is not in fact, a human. I can also see why some parents might be wondering what the hell they were thinking as they look at their children. Pets would have been so much easier.

But dogs are not the same as children. There are quite a few big differences.
  • You can feed a dog once a day. They will drink water from a bowl on the floor.
  • Children don’t smell when they get wet.
  • Children don’t crap in your lawn or pee on your mailbox.
  • Children don’t shove their noses into your butt or crotch.
  • Dogs are cheaper. I don’t care how much they eat or how often they have a date with the groomer, dogs will never go to college.
  • Children don’t eat sundries from the garbage can and drag it all over the house.
  • A dog can’t reason with you about why they need the car.
  • And when in the car, children don’t stick their heads out of it.
  • You never have to shove your child’s nose in a pile of excrement so they don’t poop on the floor again.
  • Dogs do not get baptized. (Yes I realize some children don’t either. But it’s always an option for them. Not so much with dogs.)
  • If my child bites another person, or chases something around the yard and then kills it, I do not say it’s because “it’s in her breed.”
  • Children will not eat your shoes.
  • You can euthanize your dog for around fifty bucks.
 As you can clearly see, dogs are not children, even if it feels like it behind closed doors. Even if you love them all the same. I’m not meaning to pick a fight with dog owners—my sister is one, our neighbors are one, and many of our friends own them. We can keep the peace by making a deal. I’ll keep my children from shoving their heads into your private areas and licking your hands, (even though my kids are cute, friendly, and never bite) but you dog owners need to do the same.

But the next time I’m at your house and your dog starts toward my drawers; be forewarned. I’ve got a pocket full of melted chocolate bars for my children, just in case.


Anjuli said...

love this post!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! What a refreshing read, especially since I hate dogs. Love the line at the end about chocolate. Heh, heh, heh!