We recently added a dog to our family.
He’s a year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross who we’ve called Jazz, and he is a bundle of cuddles and slobbery kisses and fun. I’m totally new to dog ownership (he lets me believe I’m in charge, at least) but did a lot of reading and research before adopting him. I knew he was going to be bloody hard work, but I’m still surprised to discover that having a twelve-month-old pup in the house is a lot like having a baby or toddler, if my memories of Wee Chum’s early days are anything to go by! Of course, I’m not saying that kids and dogs are the same, but here’s a light-hearted look at the similarities.
- Poop. Lots of poop. Clearing up poop. Dealing with soft poop when a new food is introduced. Farts that smell like poop and have you wondering if there might be poop on the carpet somewhere. Wiping another creature’s butt for it because it has cling-ons. Constantly on watch for signs of the need to poop. Just… so much poop.
- Bed space, or lack of it. My husband and I cling to our respective edges of the bed for dear life while our precious little darling spreadeagles out in the middle, with his feet pressed into my butt. I can’t pull the covers up over myself because Jazz is on them and he weighs 49lbs. Not to mention the wriggling and position-shifting that pushes me, bit by tiny bit, over the edge of the bed to the Bedside Laundry Pile of Doom.
- Early morning wake-ups. This morning, my lovely pooch had me up at 05:40 because he needed to go out to the toilet. Bleary-eyed, we felt our way out into the dark garden so he could do his business, after which neither of us was tired any more so there was no point in going back to bed!
- Playtime is on his terms, not mine. When Jazz wants to play, Jazz wants to play and will persist in dropping every toy he owns at my feet while growling excitedly. Then come the nose nudges, the paws on my knees, the face licks, and finally, the grabbing of toys and hurling them around the room because I’m not in the mood. I’m constantly tripping over toys, and it doesn’t matter how many times I put them all away – within half-an-hour they’re strewn all over the carpet once more.
- The noise. Babies are known for screaming. Dogs are known for barking. When I was expecting Wee Chum, I assured myself that my baby wouldn’t cry because it would be cared for properly. Oh, how naive I was! So why, when adopting a dog, did I think that I would have a nice quiet dog as long as he received enough attention? When there’s not excited-growling, there’s barking at every noise at the door, every perceived threat which has the temerity to walk past. I’m thankful my neighbours on both sides are understanding and love dogs!
- Genital obsession. You know how babies discover their privates and then they just will not leave them alone? You know how little two-year-old Jonny will yank off his nappy in polite company, yell “Look my willy!” at the nice health visitor and then proceed to sit and tug at it for the next half-an-hour, despite your desperate pleading? Yeah, dogs do that too, only they do it with almost porcine grunts and snorts that make the whole experience highly disturbing.
- They’re too curious for their own good, sometimes. What’s that smell on the wall over there? What happens if I stick my fingers/paw in there? Who’s this person walking past, and will they let me sniff their butt? Oooh, a pigeon, must chase that. Yum, I found a broken egg, complete with shell, on the pavement; I’ll have a quick snack on that before Mum pulls me away.
- They need to be taught. No child or dog comes into this world knowing society’s rules. They need to be taught the model of proper behaviour in polite (and impolite!) company, in a positive and gentle manner, in order to be accepted by others. Sometimes, they’ll forget everything you’ve taught them about manners and politeness, and embarrass you massively, but generally, if you are a good teacher, they will learn and make you proud.
- There goes your social life. It goes without saying that you can’t up and leave a one-year-old in the house alone while you go out partying until three in the morning; not only is it an offence, it’s morally reprehensible. It might not be so frowned upon to leave a dog on his own all night, but if you value your belongings, your carpets, and your dog’s happiness and health, you won’t do it.
- They’re expensive. Factor in food, toys, clothing (if you lean that way for your canine friend), insurance, beds and blankets, treats, vet bills, training classes, leashes, harnesses, collars – and you’ll feel like you’re well on your way to spending as much on your pup as you will on your human kid’s university fees.
- They make you feel love like no other. Of course, the love I feel for Jazz is nothing like the love I feel for Wee Chum, but it’s still a unique and fabulous love full of kisses, cuddles and the making of wonderful memories.
Are there any other ways in which you think having a dog is similar to having a small child? Or do you have another species of pet whose relationship with you could be compared to the parent-child relationship? Or do you disagree with me entirely? Let me know in the comments!
Looking to add a dog to your family? Take a look at the SPCAI and get involved.