Right off the bat, I'll come out with it: I like dogs.
For instance, this happy little wonky guy standing there with the happiest little expression on his supermutt muzzle made me very happy the other day.
Minor thing: I wouldn't want to live in a small house with dogs. To me, it's a little cruel and inhuman to coop up a dog –especially a large dog– in a small house with a postage stamp backyard. I think that if I ever end up living in a big house with a HUGE backyard, then I will have dogs. And I will also have a doghouse. And the dogs will not come into the house and scoot their butts on the carpets and the rugs.
For that matter, the cats that I would have in this rural utopia would also live outside.
But I'm not here (just) to talk about my feline and canine preferences or possible tyranny, as far as habitats are concerned. I am here to tell you that having dogs IS NOT like having babies, so please stop selling me that idea.
Once again, with the disclaimer:
I have nothing against dogs. I have everything against irresponsible dog owners.
The other day Monsieur Meow saw a young hipster couple on their doorstep with their rain gear halfway on and getting soaked mercilessly in one of the many fall storms we're having. But you will be gladdened to know that their chihuahua was nice and toasty in his little rain poncho and hat.
Except for the fact that the hat and poncho were ill-fitting and kept on blowing off the poor dog, and so there they were, struggling with dog finery while getting wet themselves, and nothing was happening.
If the dog were a kid, you would be putting that stuff on at home, not outside, you know. And you would make sure it fit well, or as well as child sizing and child squirm allow. And as they say on the airplane, you make sure you have your gear on before helping others.
Child: not a dog.
I constantly see people carrying their small to not-so-small dogs around the street as if the dog were somehow crippled or its paws were blistered and the ground were not good enough for their precious pooch. Around the same time I snapped this picture of Mr. Wonky, I also saw a rather obese Welsh Corgi (breed average weight: 25 lbs) being carried around like a baby. Yes,I realize there were loads of people, all of which could possibly step on the dog, but if anyone needed to walk it off it probably was that poor dog.
A child would be walking. Or riding around aboard a stroller.
Child: once again, not a dog.
Anyway. One of the favorite things that dog people like to share with child people (if you will) is how,
"Dogs are training for kids!"
"Oh, I know how you feel when (insert scenario where we look like we haven't slept in a month)! I have dogs!"
"Well, you know! I think having dogs is worse than kids!"
Look, dog people. I like dogs too. I think they are lovely –those who are lovely. I think they are fun– those who are fun.
I even believe some can do amazing and unbelievable things. And I believe pets can cheer people up and keep humans company. I do believe in that ethereal magic that happens when owners and pets who are well-matched come together.
But having a dog, being JUST like having a child? No, and here is why I think not:
1. You made the choice to adopt/BUY a dog. I made the choice to bear/adopt/NOT BUY a child. They are both fine, reasonable choices, but they are different. Even if a child adoption involves money (and how!), you are NOT BUYING a kid.
2. While my child or children will most likely learn human traits and develop some sort of primitive-to-evolved sense of societal norms and never require several walks a day to poop, your dog will not. I realize there are some dogs who can poop in toilets, but this is such an extraordinary occurrence that people talk about it in the same tone of voice they reserve for the Yeti.
3. My children show love for me. They are able to smile, hug, laugh, and use more sophisticated cues as they get older to show their love for me (and their resentment,boredom, anger, frustration, etc. too). The love can on occasion be eclipsed by frustration or other feelings –especially as they get older– but they are able to communicate those feelings. Really, even if people's children hate them, these children are perfectly capable to relay those feelings, even despite severe handicap. Your dog may display affection cues, some of which may even begin to resemble uncannily those of a human; however, the dog can't really emote nor relate to human feeling because the dog IS A DOG. Dogs intuit this in the same way that they intuit that cat poop may have some nutrients they may need despite the fact that it is poop that came out of a cat.
(Also, the dog will never actively ask you, "And how was YOUR day?" even if he or she just knows when to cheer you up.)
4. My kids can babble, and later they can talk. In a few years, they will sass. Your dog cannot talk. Please stop making me listen to recordings that prove they can.
("UuhOooh Roo" may sound like "I love you", but really people… really.)
5. Some people are willing to give their cats or dogs years of dialysis or other therapy, to extend the life of a little being who doesn't understand why it's being subjected to torture, even if that torture is making them better. However, do you really stay up nights and feel awful inside and sometimes wish it were you who were the one getting sick and not the dog, like you would (might?) every time you see your son or daughter vomiting or shaking with a suddenly very high fever? Do you wake up in the middle of the night, heart palpitating and hands shaking, just to check that your dog is still breathing? Do you try to imagine what your dog will look like in ten years? Does the sight of your dog in his or her first Halloween costume that they really love because they won't stop telling you about it bring tears to your eyes?
(Please say no?)
6. Finally, a dog at the end of the day, is not a human. You can't get mad at them for doing mischief even after you've repeated yourself a million times, because dogs don't speak human. You can train, it's true, but training is relatively limited. A dog will never make you irrationally upset. A dog will never turn around and curse you out. A dog will –and this is why some like dogs better than humans– look at you with happy eyes and wag its tail at you and bow to you, leader of his or her pack that you are. The dog will lick you and kiss you and not talk back. And if the dog does something to hurt you –bite, maul you– there is a good chance that you may look into getting rid of the dog, if the damage is bad enough.
Can you get rid of a child? Um. Yeah, don't answer that.
Child DOES NOT equal dog. Of course, your dog may be your baby, and you may love it like a child. But really, no. It's different.
Even if I've sometimes wondered if Cesar Millan does housecalls, and even if both look irresistibly cute in their costumes.