A while back, I found a fantastic website for dog-lovers. I’m still exploring the contents of the website, but what I really like is the recipes section. I’m not an avid chef at all, but when I do cook, my favorite meals are those that I can share with the whole family, including my dear Molly. I was therefore thrilled to find a number of dog-healthy recipes, some of which would be delicious for human consumption with little or no alteration (I loved the real fruit Popsicles.). So go check out the website, dog lovers.
Gushing over a doggie site isn’t why I’m writing here today. No, the reason that I’m writing is because of a short article that I found on etiquette for dog-owners that really caught my attention. The following is the text of that article in its entirety.
When you think of your dog, you probably view him or her as another member of the family, just a bit furrier. Many dog lovers become so attached to their canine friend that they mistakenly start to believe that everyone is fan of dogs. Sadly, not everyone is as head over heels about your dog as you are, so it is important that you understand the importance of exhibiting proper dog owner etiquette.
Any time that your dog is away from home, or interacting with other people, you need to understand how to practice good social behaviors with the dog. Using good dog owner etiquette simply means that you are giving others’ respect by taking their feelings into considerations in regards to how they feel about your dog.
The following are a few simple tips to keep in mind if you want to maintain a positive relationship between your community and your dog:
- Always keep your dog on a leash when you leave your house or yard. Some dog owners think that they do not need a leash because their dog is always extremely well behaved and would never stray away. Well, the leash is not just for you and your dog; it’s for other people. Some people, especially if they are walking their own dogs, become very uncomfortable around an unfamiliar dog that is not leashed.
- Pick up after your dog. One of the most important ways to show respect to your neighbors is by picking up your dog’s droppings. Always keep plastic bags with you on your walks so that you can keep your neighborhood clean. You can quickly find yourself with an enemy if your neighbor finds your dog’s waste on the bottom of their shoe.
- Try to keep your dog quiet. Of course, dogs will bark, but try to be conscious of those around you. If your dog is outside barking excessively, you might be able to ignore it, but others probably cannot. Try your best to calm the dog and prevent too much barking.
- Don’t take your dog with you everywhere that you go. Your friends or relatives may have invited your over, but that does not necessarily mean they want your dog staying over too. Some people are allergic, or simply do not enjoy your dog as much as you do.
- Try to make sure your dog is being polite during introductions with other dogs, or with people. You might think the dog is cute when it excitedly jumps up to greet someone, or plays with another dog, but that behavior can make other people very uneasy. If your dog is playing too rough with another dog, there could be an injury and a lot of animosity between you and the other dog owner.
If you are unsure about any dog behavior situation, always stop and consider the other person’s feelings. Most importantly, if you feel that you have broken a dog owner etiquette rule, apologize. Apologize sincerely, and take steps to prevent the indiscretion from happening again.”
Can everyone agree that this all seems very reasonable? As someone with a dog, I sure can. It’s all common-sense, responsible behavior, right? This was written by a dog-lover on a site for dog-lovers, and it doesn’t seem the slightest bit surprising, out of place, or controversial.
However, can you imagine reading a similar article written about human children on a typical mommy/parenting blog?
“Your child is your family. It’s natural to be very attached to him or her. However, some parents becomes so attached to their children that they mistakenly believe that everyone else will adore them as well. While your world may revolve around your child, the real world does not. It is therefore important to understand the importance of having proper social etiquette when it comes to your children, at home and in public.
The following are a few tips to help you achieve this:
- Always keep your children under control. This is as much for your child’s sake as it is for the sake of other people. Some people think that they don’t have to maintain control their kids because their kids are “well-behaved” when they really aren’t/can’t be all the time, or the parents have a skewed idea of what proper behavior is and think that other people should see the child’s misbehavior as “cute.” The truth is, members of the public will be bothered by an out-of-control child.
Sometimes parents even fail to pay close attention to their kids and will claim to have “only looked away for a second” if the child is hurt or snatched up. So keeping control of your child is also about that child’s own safety.
- Always pick up after your child. Ensure that your child does not leave toys in neighboring yards or on public property (in parks, on roads, in apartment hallways, etc) and that he/she does not leave excessive messes when dining out in public or when visiting other people’s homes. If your child can not or will not pick up after itself, that responsibility falls on you.
- Keep your child quiet. Of course children make some noise, and most people will understand this, but please try to be considerate of those around you. Screaming, crying, noisy toys, and excessively loud talking can be very irritating and disruptive to other people. Controlling your child’s noise level, or removing them from a given situation if you can not do so, will help keep the peace. This applies to public places as well as your own property if you have close neighbors.
- Don’t take your child with you everywhere you go. You may have been invited for a visit or gathering, but that does not always mean that your child is welcome as well, so please ask first. If you must, politely decline the invitation.
Additionally, there are some places in public such as movie theatres, bars, and certain restaurants, and some dog parks where bringing very young kids along is simply not appropriate. Use good judgment and respect the rules.
- Try to make sure that your child is being polite in interactions with other people as well as with animals. You may think it’s cute when your child screams and runs around in play, or stares at or reaches at strangers, but this might bother other people and, in the wrong environment, may result in an injury (your child may trip someone or be tripped by someone if left to run around in stores, for example.)
If you are unsure about your child’s behavior in a situation, stop and consider the feelings and needs of others around you. If you feel that you have broken a parenting etiquette rule, apologize sincerely and endeavor to prevent repeat incidents. “
If such an article on What Every Parent Needs to Know in Terms of Social Child Behaviors ever was published (on a site the received a sufficient amount of traffic from parents,) I would expect a few cheers from some moms as well as childfree people (whenever we got wind of it,) for sure.
However, there would no doubt also be a strong, vocal backlash. The article would be flooded with comments from defensive mothers decrying ageism and insisting that children are people too (which no one denies but is irrelevant anyway.) Additionally, there will always be some moms who will respond by insisting that people without kids (because no matter who wrote the article, people without kids will be the ones blamed) just “don’t understand,” and should stay home if we don’t want to deal with unruly children (perfect angels, as they will no doubt tell it.)
Within a week there would be at least one angry article written in response, wailing about an imaginary anti-family society out to get moms. Fathers, I would imagine, would be a minority in any discussion on the matter at all as tends to be the case with such things.
Yesterday, my family ventured to Bear-Creek Dog Park. We’d been there a few times before, and quite enjoy it. The park is HUGE. It has an area for large dogs and small dogs, as many parks do. There are clear areas, wooded areas, and a mountain-runoff creek running through for the dogs to play in. There are free donated balls is a basket, a bin of shopping bags for owners to have no excuse not to clean up after their dogs, drinking fountains for humans and dogs, a restroom with a lockout for dogs to wait in, benches, and picnic tables.
It’s nice to bring Molly out. She certainly enjoys the change of pace. Being outside is fun for her, there’s a lot to see and smell and the socialization with humans and dogs is good for her. As for myself, I enjoy seeing Molly have a good time. It’s also nice for me to get to a park, and one with so few children (no screaming!) It’s fun to look around, identifying different dog breeds is if I was at a car show and pleased to see models that I like. I get to see and play with more dogs than I could ever take in to my own home, and that’s quite nice. The other owners have nice chit chat about our dogs, training, care, and so on. Really, a good time is had by all.
Yesterday, it was hot. Whereas other days she either avoided the creek, or tried to cross it by hopping on rocks and avoiding getting her paws wet, she spent most of her day in the water yesterday. All we had to do to keep her entertained was throw her Frisbee in the water and she would jump happily jump right in after it.
We noticed that Molly is very non-confrontational. If another dog so much as came near her toy, she’d approach slowly to see if the other dog would take it. If another dog did take it, she wouldn’t try to grab it but would simply follow the dog around and wait for the dog to drop it so she could get it back. There was one dog in particular who would take Molly’s Frisbee, and then trot away from her casually. The owner said that dog is probably not really interested in the Frisbee but just likes to be chased and has actually learned to run slower just so other dogs could keep up. As for chasing, Molly was happy to oblige.
At one point, another dog a bit larger than Molly invited her to play by wagging his tail and bowing, but also by barking and growling, which Molly evidently found intimidating. When the other dog would bark, Molly would run over to either myself or my boyfriend for safety, but wouldn’t bark or growl back. The barking dog simply found someone else to play with.
The three of us then wandered the huge park, playing fetch as we went along. By the time we had circled the park and returned to our car, Molly was already mostly dry. Happily, we use a dog tarp in the back seat of our Pathfinder, so a moist and slightly muddy dog isn’t a problem, although we really should have brought a towel (Douglas Adams would be displeased to know we forgot one that day.)
It was a fun day. We’re always smiling at that park as we just have a great time. Best of all, it’s free. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with our dear Molly.
Yesterday, my family hit the Waldo Canyon Loop Trail. We hadn’t been able to go hiking in quite a while, due to conflicting schedules and other plans, so it was nice to get out.
My Boyfriend found the trail using AllTrails, and downloaded the map, which is a nice feature of the app. We had an embarrassing amount of trouble finding the trailhead, as the dropped pin on Google maps was about a mile off. After we passed the dropped pin, we pulled into a small parking lot on the side of the highway to turn around. After driving around a bit, unable to find the place, we realized that parking lot we turned around in was actually our trail head – doh!
Once we got going, and hiked far enough for the highway to be out of earshot, we quite liked the trail. We enjoyed the thick woods as well as the scenic views. The trail itself seemed well-maintained, which I surely appreciated. There was evidence that a tree had fallen onto the trail, but had been cut and moved out of the way. Further down, there was a nice bench made of polished logs made by a local scout troop
This was the first hike that Molly wore her dog backpack for. It fits a bit awkward on her as she’s too large for a small, but a bit too petite for the medium-sized pack that I bought. Still, it didn’t seem bother her at all, and she loves putting it on as she knows it means going somewhere fun (we’ve had her wear it to the dog park to get used to it.) It was really nice not to have to unpack ourselves to give Molly food and water when she needed it, she had that herself. In one side of her pack, she had her water, on the other side, she had her food and a collapsible bowl with compartments for food and water. You can carry your own things now, dog!
Sadly, as we had a late start, we weren’t able to complete the trail and had to turn back early. It was getting dark by the time we made it back to our car. It would be nice to return to this trail another time.
Last month, Theresa Cisneros of The Mom Blog asked her readers, Why are people choosing pets over kids? The post in which she asks the question seems to be in response to a survey conducted by human and pet supplement company called Flexcin International, Inc., which found that 54% of respondents admitted that pets were a better fit for their lives than human children would be, with only 46% claiming the opposite. I’m immediately inclined to be skeptical of the survey, until I can see the methods by which it was conducted. If it was polling people with pets, specifically the kind likely to care enough to give their kids supplements, I would think they’d be more likely to get a pet-friendly answer by such people than they would the general public.
But never-mind that, it doesn’t really much matter. What does matter, it the question posed by Cisneros’ post:
Readers, I’d like to hear what you think about this subject.
Tell Me: Have you ever considered (permanently) opting for pets over kids?
False dichotomy. You’ll never get a real answer until you ask the right question. I’m childfree and have one dog, but I did NOT choose pets over kids any more than I choose driving a sports car over being slapped in the face. That is, the two things have little to nothing to do with each other. Sure, I prefer one over the other, but that doesn’t mean that I chose one over the other.
I like dogs. Even if I had kids (which I never want) I’d still have dogs. Many people who do have kids also have pets. It’s not like people can only have one or the other. On the other hand, even if, for some reason, I had decided to never have pets, I still wouldn’t want kids. It’s not like I’m required to have either.
I like pets. They bring me a lot of joy and enrich my life. They’re a lot of work too, if the owner is responsible. If I had kids, it would likely negatively impact my ability to adequately care for my dog, as well as diminish that dog’s quality of life. It would be unfair to my dog to bring children into my family, which, again, I would never want to do anyway.
I don’t much care for children. Pets or no, children would be nothing but an unpleasant burden to me. I shudder to think of how much I would miss out on in life if I ever became a mother. Short visits from the children of my friends is about all that I can tolerate. It’s not that I “can’t handle” parenthood, it’s that it’s totally undesirable to me. There are lots of things that I could handle, if I had to, but would rather just avoid entirely. I can’t imagine wanting to ruin my life (and having kids would ruin my life,) and contribute to the continued destruction of our already overpopulated world, by breeding like some unneutered stray animal (overpopulation is not just a problem for cats and dogs!).
I chose to have something great for me. I chose not to have something horrible for me. But to say that I chose pets over kids is ridiculous
I actually don’t call myself a “pet-parent,” nor do I call my dog my “fur-baby.” I like such terms, but I tend to avoid using them, myself. The only reason for this is because I don’t want to give ammunition to people who would accuse me of doting on my dog only to “make up” for not having children. There’s nothing more irritating than being told that I’m misdirecting my “natural maternal instincts” whenever I take care of my dog properly.
I understand why people do call themselves “pet-parents,” and their animal companions “fur-babies.” It seems cruel, for one thing, to refer to pets as property to be owned. Animals aren’t toys, or decorations, or accessories. They’re thinking, feeling, living beings who we are fully responsible for as caretakers. It is our duty, when we take animals in, to see to their physical and mental wellbeing to the best of our ability. We are to raise our animal companions in stable, loving homes. To do any less is negligent. From the moment you bring an animal home, it is your responsibility for the rest of its life, not just until caring for it becomes inconvenient for you. If you aren’t prepared for that responsibility, get a picture of an animal instead. “Pet-parents” understand this. The specific things one is responsible for may be different, but the level of responsibility between caring for pets and caring for children is the same.
Additionally, the use of the terms “pet-parent” and “fur-baby” relate to the pet’s role within the family. It doesn’t matter if the animal isn’t a human child, the bond between someone responsible enough to take pet care seriously and that pet, is comparable to that between a mother and human child. This is especially pronounced in families without children, which are a growing segment of the population, but is a dynamic that should be present in any home with a pet anyway. My dog is certainly part of my family of three, and we take good care of her and love her dearly. Mothers don’t have the monopoly on love, on bonding, on care-taking, or on family.
In outrage that us mere non-moms would use such terminology, Susan Maushart, has written a piece for Huffington Post attacking the convention.
“Because Pet Parents Are Moms Too!”
I hate to be a bitch about this — but hey, female dogs are people too, right? — but when I read that subject line on an ASPCA email this week, it really gave me hairballs.
This reminds me, I really should subscribe to the ASPCA’s newsletter.
As for dogs being people, some people would argue that they could be considered such. I’m certainly more inclined to consider a dog a person than I am to consider a corporation or a human fetus to be such.
I am a pet owner and I am a mom, and frankly, my dear, the two have about as much in common as a goldfish does to Godzilla. Rub my nose in it if you like, but it’s about time this whole “Pet Mommy” thing got some serious yanking back.
If you’re a responsible caretaker of your pet at all, then the burden that comes with that should be at least comparable to childcare. Dogs have needs beyond kibble and water. They need love and attention. They need socialization. They need positive reinforcement and encouragement. They need to be played with. They need to exercise. They need to have fun and experience new things. They need to be given rules and boundaries. They need to learn and be stimulated mentally. They need to be respected. They need to be rewarded with treats and toys and experiences they’ll enjoy. If you’re taking care of your dog right, you’re doing a lot of work.
For years now, it’s been accepted usage for pet owners — invariably child-free pet owners — to refer to their dogs and cats as their “kids,” and to do so without apparent irony. And an estimated $50 billion a year in pet-related goods and services currently fuels this delusion. Doggie daycare. Pet strollers. Halloween costumes. Veterinary insurance.
She says “invariably,” but non-childfree people often refer to themselves and others as “pet-parents” as well, especially if they work in a field that involves constant interaction with pets. There aren’t that many of us childfree folks, you know.
Animals are expensive, especially when they’re cared for right. I’ve had Molly for less than a year, and I’ve already dropped over a thousand dollars on her in
the form of a plane ticket, a crate, food, toys, a bed, a home pet-dish, a portable pet dish, a harness, a seat-belt, a car tarp, treats, training tools, hygiene products, two leashes, a collar, tags, pet fees at home and when traveling, training classes, a backpack for hiking, and veterinary bills. And every bit of it was absolutely necessary in order to take proper care of her.
Doggy-day care is actually a great idea. Dogs have feelings too, and it’s not uncommon for them to experience separation anxiety when left home alone. Their nervousness at this situation may cause them to be more likely to be destructive than they otherwise would be. Dogs get lonely, bored, and scared just like anyone else. And if a care-taker is likely to be away for an extended period, it’s nice to know that the dog will be let out when it needs out, and that it will have adequate food and water. Additionally, dogs are social animals and being around other dogs is great for their enjoyment, and their emotional wellbeing. It’s good to socialize dogs with strange dogs and people. It’s certainly better than leaving them at home alone all day. I don’t use doggie day care myself, as someone is usually home, but I certainly see the appeal.
Pet strollers are another good idea for small breeds. Little dogs still need exercise, but they might tire on a walk long before a human does.
Halloween costumes are just a bit of fun. The author even admits to having her own dog wear one.
Veterinary insurance is a must! Medical care for pets can be expensive. I hate to see animals that could otherwise be saved and restored to good health simply because the care-taker was to cheap to actually follow through on their responsibility to their pet. I’d like to remind the class that animals aren’t toys to be discarded when broken. They’re living beings who you take responsibility for.
What? No college fund?
Actually, I’ve already spent a pretty penny on training courses for my dear Molly. When I get the time and the money, I’ll bring her to more classes still. Eventually, I’d like to have her certified as a therapy dog. It’s not exactly a four-year university, but it’s a considerable amount of training for a dog, and a considerable financial investment for myself.
There’s even an entire new literary genre riding on the back of our boundary confusion: “dogoir” — a heartwarming, first person narrative centering on the relationship dynamics between ordinary pet-owners and their spiritually gifted-and-talented woofspring.
Do you feel your ears perking up? Think about it. When’s the last time you picked up an inspirational book about child-rearing? Never. Because there is no such thing.
Actually, yeah, there is a ton of baby-worshipping, diaper-sniffing, umbilical cord-gazing drivel literature out there. It’s a flat lie to state otherwise. Hell, there are entire blog communities centered not just around the practical aspects of child-rearing, but the qualities of the relationship that are either romanticized or entirely imagined.
Real parents write bestsellers with titles like Go the F**k to Sleep and The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Real parents write survival guides. Field notes. Training manuals. Not freaking fantasy fiction with fur.
Actually, most “real parents” don’t write anything at all except facebook posts about the latest diaper blowout.
It’s become ideologically unsound to say so in public, but you and I both know that pets are stupid. Not just “slow” or “differently intelligent” — just plain stupid. (When we say a poodle is intelligent, we forget that we are speaking in purely relative terms. Compared to a pincushion, sure.) That’s not a moral failing. It’s not something we love them in spite of. It’s something we love them because of.
Pets aren’t stupid. It’s nonsense to say they are. It’s nothing but speciesist snobbery to hold the intelligence of another species to the standard as a human. Suppose I said humans were clumsy and compared them to cats to do so? Suppose I said humans were blind and compared them to hawks? Suppose I said humans were slow and compared them to antelope?
These “kids” of ours eat their own vomit, run straight into oncoming traffic and hump the furniture. Hello? Is that a reflection of their intelligence? Even more to the point, is that a reflection on our “parenting”?
Human children do the same things and worse. Both need to be taught not to. If the author’s pet does the things mentioned, then she has failed in her responsibilities to her dog.
As for dogs, most can be housebroken within weeks of birth if the human cares enough and knows what they’re doing. Cats can be litter-trained at a similarly young age, often with little involvement on the part of any human. Cats can even be taught to use toilets. Human children? You’re lucky if they’ve stopped wetting the bed by age five.
I could be wrong, but it seems to me significant that we cannot crate our children. Nor can we expect them to heel, appreciate table scraps or take well to shock-collaring. At the same time, we do not fight for Angry Birds access with our cats. Our dogs waste little time on social media, and can almost always be counted on to say ‘no’ to drugs. And if they dress provocatively, I think it’s fair to say we only have ourselves to blame.
Actually, human children do get “crated,” if you think about it. They’re called cribs and play-pens. Even older children are often “crated” in their own bedrooms. And if you’re a decent parent, you’d better be able to expect the child to heel.
Shock collars are abuse. They shouldn’t be used on any animal. Shock collars are used on dogs and not on children because of speciesism. It’s as simple and horrible as that.
As for the rest, the author has only demonstrated why pets are better than children.
This Mothers Day, let’s remember that, as much as we adore our animals — and full disclosure: I dressed my pug as a monarch butterfly last Halloween, and it was awesome — they are not our children. To pretend otherwise makes monkeys of all of us.
Until there is a nationally-recognized holiday specifically celebrating pets, I think Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are perfectly acceptable times to celebrate our animal companions. (Share!) Anyone who would call themselves “pet-parents” is completely justified in doing so.
As for myself, apart from occasionally referring to Molly as my “baby,” I don’t pretend that my dog is the same as human child. She’s better, as far as I’m concerned. I much prefer dogs. Why would I pretend that she was something less desirable to me, right?
Kidding aside, no one is affected by using the term “pet-parent,” especially as the prefix “pet” makes the term very clear in meaning and avoids any confusion. So there’s really no sense in getting pissy over it. Calm down, Maushart.
Happy Mother’s Day, pet mamas!