Mimi Von Boom: Antithetical Heroin/e
So…Your Dogs are Like Your Kids
So Your Dogs Are Like Your Kids
You have dogs. They are like your kids. Maybe you have human spawn running around that bear your surname and reflect on you in your community. Perhaps you proudly display bumper stickers and decals that say Baby On Board/Student of the Goddamned Universe. Maybe you, like me, don’t have human spawn for whatever reason and your canine companions have been personified to fill that gap in your life. Whatever the reason, your furbabies are not mere dogs. No no. These dogs are your kids.
Don’t get me wrong - ME TOO. My dogs are my kids! I swear!! I’m the dog-lady who gets particularly offended when some human-mom makes statements about how loving a dog cannot compare to loving a child. It HURTS me when people say that. I think about my said dogchildren and I get OFFENDED. I DEFEND myself and my dogchildren. I try to explain how much I love my dogs and how comparisons are lame and poisonous. Well, I still believe the latter. But when a distant friend of mine recently posted a dog/human child comparison to Facebook on Mothers Day, when I got through being offended and hurt (which took several more hours than I’d care to admit *coughfourhourscough*) I got to thinking. Is she right? Are they right? Do they really love their bambinos more? Can I really not understand the difference? Does my seemingly unending waterfall of affection for my canine children even come close? So I decided to get scientific, in a not so scientific way, and I made a list.
Human Moms Do a Lot of Sh*t.
I don’t think anyone would argue that. Sure, there are the bad seeds. The ladies that just shouldn’t breed no matter what. For whatever reason, these women breed in my city, in your city and everywhere across the globe and they neglect their children’s hopes, dreams and futures. Some are neglectful of their children’s physical and emotional needs. Some people abuse their children and the spectrum of abuse can get so ugly I wont even go into it. But these, like those people who abuse and neglect their dogs, are the minority. Let’s call them my very unscientific 1%. They are the 1% who chose to raise babies that shouldn’t be raising a freaking house plant. But the rest of them, the bulk of them, they do a good enough job. Some do a good job. Some do an excellent June Cleaver kind of job. And that’s just the bell curve of life. So let’s take these women and look at what they do and think about the Canine equivalent.
- Medical visits. The list includes vaccines, injuries, sleeplessness, crying, more vaccines, sickness, surgeries, correctional visits (think braces, glasses, acne, and the more severe things like scoliosis, etc.) The canine equivalent? vaccines, injuries, sleeplessness, sickness, surgeries and correctional visits. Most people do the vaccines and…stop…when it comes to their dog. That eye problem? He’s going to get used to it. Diarrhea? It will pass. She’s limping? No worry, it will go away. He yelps when you pet his [insert any dog area] - don’t pet him there, dummy!! That’s pretty much what people do until their dogs stop eating, drinking and just lay around half dead for a few days. Oh - we should call the vet. Fido is looking up Undertaker Classifieds. WTF people?! I recently got an AMAZING Great Dane puppy. His name is Roman Pawlanski but I have nicknamed him Dennis the Menace because EVERYTHING that could go wrong with him medically has gone wrong. Drastically wrong. Vomiting. Diarrhea. Concern about a possible congenital disorder (liken this to the scoliosis thing in human kids). A broken leg. A cyst on his tail. We can’t neuter him because he’s underweight. Emotionally - he has separation anxiety and doesn’t take well to changes in his environment. He wails like a baby. He is a baby! He’s only 7 months old! But when an 80 pound 7 month old puppy screams all day, people get pissed. And I’ve taken him to a behavioral expert and countless vet visits. I’m there for him all the way because I promised him I would be. His Vet Office jokes that they are our vacation rental. And he LOVES them because we have been very careful to make sure he has a good experience there so he will want to go back. Because we go back all the time. 5 months into owning him, I could have bought a car with what I invested in his health. So that is what it means to love your dog like he is a child. Like most parents on a budget, I’ve had some difficult decisions to weigh about how to care for him medically and I haven’t been able to afford the BMW treatment all the time. He consistently gets at least the Corolla of medical care, though, and I’m proud to say that. I put off purchasing a condo for six months to fix his leg and it was the best investment I could have made. Screw assets. This is my kid. My dogkid.
- Bedding (that comforts and soothes their children). Do you ever see a good mom toss a dirty mattress on the ground and wonder why their kids can’t sleep? Perhaps the bedwetting children are told to just keep sleeping in it, because they should have known better? Shocking and sad to think about? Know anyone who does that? Me either. But dogparents - you do this all the time. Tonight I came home to find one of my two babies had soiled the kennel and they were upset. I mean - UPSET - twofold. They didn’t feel good and they didn’t feel proud of themselves. I took them out of their kennel, brought them in my bed (after inspecting their paws for dookie, of course), and we all took a nice long nap. I soothed them first, they were crying and nervous. But then they SLEPT because they probably hadn’t slept all day. Who wants to sleep in a pile of pukie and dookie? Not my dogs, and not yours. Then, after said nap, they had dinner and a long walk while their bedding was on the mega dirty setting in the wash. Now it’s fluffing with a couple dryer sheets to make sure it smells nice when I put it back together. I threw some stuff out and plan to explore Petco for Memorial Day sale stuff to replace it this weekend. I do what I can do. But you know what? That’s loving my dogs like I’d love a kid. I’d do the same for a child. Exactly the same. Why do any less for your dogs if you love them like they are your kids?
- Good Food. Okay I had the Mac and Cheese/Fish Stick nights growing up. My poor mom had her off nights. So do I. But for me, my nutritious meals for the kids are a lot easier. Just buy good kibble. Put it in the bowl. Done. Don’t want to invest in it? Here’s the problem. My parents gave me everything they could in this area because I was their child. They limited McDonalds days to make it really special and to save my health. They hid veggies in my food. They gave me a ton of the veggies I didn’t hate (big win!!). Do the same for your dogs. Drug store dog food? May as well pour your kids a big bowl of snickers bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Look into the nutritional value of your dogs food. You can see it in their coat (shine, coarseness, amount of shedding), their eyes, gums, teeth and the wetness on their nose. Good food = healthy dogs, less lethargy and longer lives. You’d do it for your human kids, do it for them. They don’t deserve less because they can’t use words to ask for more.
- School. You’d send a kid to school. You’d budget for college. And you wouldn’t hold against them what they weren’t good at or hadn’t had a chance to learn. You’d go to bat against bad teachers. You’d do it. I’d do it. Do you do it for your dog? I’m talking puppy training, agility training, service training, obedience training. Training specific to your dogs breed, type of breed, and unique needs. Do you have a herding dog? A working dog? Whatever the breed, they have spent centuries making these dogs certain ways to satisfy human needs and you have one of these bundles of joy now. Train them. Challenge them. Give them the gift of the tools they need to be good dogs. Take them to school. Pay for it. Challenge bad teachers. Demand the best for your dog. Go to classes and learn how to engage their minds. Teach them how to be the best dog they can be. They are your kids? Teach them how to act like good children and you wont find yourself replacing the couch or complaining about yanking on the leash. If you adopted a child you’d do it. Do it for your dog.
- Comfort. If I had a bad dream as a kid my mother comforted me. Why do we yell at dogs when they do? Because they do. My dogs have bad dreams sometimes and wake up barking, whining, kicking and disoriented. They are upset. They get up and pace. You know what helps? Petting them. Holding them. Telling them they are okay. They are your kids. They love you. This tells them they are okay and orients them to where they are. And just like Mom did for you, you should put them back to bed and make sure they know you are just down the hall/on the bed next to theirs or wherever you have them sleep. They need to know you’re there and you’ll respond.
- Support. Did your dog screw something up? Make an accident? Get into a scuffle with another pooch? Support them. Sometimes support includes discipline. Sometimes it includes love and affection. Sometimes it includes both. Whatever the situation calls for - DO IT. Remember all those times your parents advice clicked even when you didn’t want it to? Dogs respond in a similar fashion. The more support you show an animal, the more responsive they are to you. The more responsive they are, the less you need to discipline or make tough decisions.
- Playtime. Do you play with your dogs? I mean actually play with them. I mean, throw the ball. Teach them to catch the frisbee. Play ‘chase me’ or ‘gotcha’ or ‘wheres your mousie’ (the last one is a favorite of my dog Luna). Do you hide things and make them find them? Do you dedicate time to them so they know they are important? Do you prioritize them? Even on my busiest days I give my dogs at least 15 minutes of undivided attention in this area. This is because it makes them better, happier dogs and I want them to be happy. I want them to feel good and be well adjusted and know they are loved (by me). I want them to learn new games and use their minds and keep their senses sharp. God forbid someone ever tries to break in here and my Great Dane is so under-stimulated he sleeps through it.
- (Home)work time. So you enrolled them in school. Good for you! The trainer pulls you aside and says “Fido really needs extra work on ‘leave it’ and ‘stay’ when there is food involved in the training.” If you’re like me you go home and do that for about a week and then get mad that Fido still eats your pizza crust while you’re in the bathroom (I was only gone a second!!! GAWDAMNED DOG!!) But hey, no mom is perfect, remember? If this were algebra, my kid would fail and it would be at least partially my fault. Maybe Fido would fail anyway, with tons and tons of time invested. BUT I don’t know if that’s the case because I sell my dogs short in this area. Moms of human kids can’t do that. They have to make time for homework help. Reading, writing, arithmetic galore. They have to brush up on all their skills so they can help CORRECT the homework and TEACH their children. We forget - the trainers are mostly training us. The dogs see them an hour a week usually. Beyond that, it’s on Mr. and Mrs. Dogparent to do the work. Fido can’t teach himself to ‘leave it.”
- Encouragement. Your dog screwed up. Do you shame them or encourage them? Really it’s probably both depending on the situation and your mood but remember that MOMS ENCOURAGE THEIR KIDS. Think about it. If your dog magically transformed into a child RIGHT NOW…what kind of parents would they tell their teachers you are? Would you have DCFS knocking on your door tomorrow? Would you? Don’t be ashamed. Lots of people would. But if you are claiming to love your dogs like they are children, this is something people undervalue. ENCOURAGE YOUR DOG TO BE THE BEST DOG S/HE CAN BE. I’m serious. It may sound silly but, after years of living with, raising, training and loving dogs, I’m living proof that encouragement goes further than a million spankings/timeouts. Want them to stop going potty in the house? Give them a COOKIE when they go OUTSIDE. DON’T SPANK THEM FOR GOING INSIDE. Encourage them to do better. They will be the dog that you expect them to be. Raise your expectations. You are raising the next dog president! You are raising the next Bill Gates of Dogs! Let him know you believe that and you will see a shift. Really.
- Knowing when to drop it. Do you get on your dog every time they f*ck up? Do you like hanging around people who do that to you? Imagine if you were your dog. Would you like you? Would you want to be raised by you? Would you stare longingly at other people as you were yanked by on your daily walk? Do the both of you a favor and drop it sometimes. I’m serious. Lassie got your pizza crust? It’s a Friday night after a long week and you caught her mid-chomp? She freezes in half-terror and doesn’t know whether she should drop it or swallow it whole while bolting for the door? Laugh. I’m serious. Laugh out loud. Smile at your dog. Drop it. Let her have the pizza crust. Relax. Your dog is allowed to have her off days, too.
- Emergencies. She’s puking or pooping blood or can’t move or something terrible happened - do you respond accordingly or ignore it and downplay it? Human parents GO TO JAIL for not reacting appropriately and swiftly in emergencies. You? You just get a few glares from dog owners. Remember to do the right thing and take the right care of your dog in an emergency. If it were a child pooping blood, you’d at LEAST call the nurses station at your local hospital. Stop treating your dogs like their “dogs” and start treating them like the furbabies you proclaim they are.
- Unconditional Love. I’m going to leave you with this. Loving an animal conditionally means “I love you because I live in an apartment where I can have you; I love you because you’re good enough; I love you because I don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/child; I’ll get rid of you if it makes sense to me though. But don’t worry, I’d find you a good home!!” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve placed pets in new homes. I was going through a divorce and it damn near destroyed me. I was depressed for over a year, and then I had to place one more dog. I’m more than happy to discuss WHY I had to place my pets in another post. But I am going to talk now about the FEELINGS I had when I did. Because I loved my dog and cats like they came from my own womb. It killed me inside. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I was hospitalized for malnutrition. I’d lost my husband, my house and my babies in one fell swoop. It was heartbreaking, devastating and the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I was forced to move quickly and I had to place my pets. If they had been humans, it’s true this wouldn’t have happened, but it’s also illegal to refuse to rent to people with human offspring. In my case - trust me - I didn’t have the time or resources (Divorces have a way of making you BROKE) to put into finding a home for all of us. There was no time and no money. So I found each of them homes. I still get pictures of all of them. I still cry when I see them. I miss them terribly. But I tell myself it’s like I sent them to college. They are okay and I am okay and they are onto the next phase of their lives. But dear Lord I miss my pets. That is unconditional love.
I’m hoping that this makes someone stop and think. I hope that this makes dog owners and dog lovers reflect on how they care for their pets and step up to the plate a little more. I know it did for me. I fall short. I love my dogs like they are my kids but I haven’t shown them that as much as I could have. After thinking about the comparison to human kids, this made me realize that if I want to proudly proclaim to have furbabies, I need to treat them like that. Maybe this will help people realize, on the flip-side, that you don’t love your dogs like they are your kids. And that’s completely okay!! They aren’t kids, they are dogs. Love them like they are your dogs. Just love them. Because just like kids, they didn’t ask to be here, in my house, sharing my space and totally controlled by me. Just like kids they rely on me for everything they have. Love your dogs. Give them what they deserve. And then, just for good measure, give just a little more.
Rework, redo, recycle
I need to rework a few things in my life. Streamline. Trim the fat. Move forward with a new direction. I have been apathetic about this blog lately because I’m not sure what direction to take it in. Personal? Art? Some other applicable theme? It would be nice to have a clear idea for how each of the time investments I have are helping me move toward something instead of just…being random time investments.
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