I worked with kids for many, many years and I have always had many, many dogs. I now have friends with kids and we are often comparing our similar experiences in child and dog rearing. When I started jotting down all of the similarities we have discussed over the years, I asked my friend, a father of two boys, if I had left anything out. "They're all just animals," he told me. Wow. That pretty much says it all. But I had already outlined these other ideas and just his awesome quote would be a pretty short blog post. So, here's some of the similarities between raising kids and raising dogs, in no particular order:
- Helplessness: Neither kids nor dogs can take care if themselves, so it's all up to the parents. Eventually some kids/adults/senior citizens start to be able to care for themselves and no dogs.
- Physical closeness: Kids and dogs of many sizes and ages want to be on their parents lap, in their parents bed or just often extremely close/underfoot. This can be pleasant in the form of snuggling or uncomfortable in the form of smothering.
- Constant need for attention: Parents of humans, have you ever heard "watch me!' over and over and over again? Parents of dogs have you ever seen/heard your dog give you "watch me!" signals over and over again? Yeah.
- Grooming: Nail trimming, teeth and hair/fur brushing, baths (or lack their of.) Please see the above "they're all just animals" quote.
- Help: Babysitters. Petsitters. Yes, pet parents can put their dogs in a crate and go to the movies but only after at least an hour of exercise. And at least another hour of exercise after the movie too. Now be honest, human parents, ever handed kids hopped up on sugar after a birthday party or the like off to a babysitter? Remember your being honest. And the kids were asleep when you got home, right? Plus, that poor babysitter was likely cheaper than what pet parents pay when they do need a petsitter.
- Excuses: both children and dogs are great excuses to get out of a phone call or away from a party. They are also both reasons you cannot make a phone call or stay at a party.
- Body Waste: Whether one uses diapers or doggy bags or both, parents of humans and dogs clean up (and get covered in) poop and pee. Both dogs and children choose odd places to do this business as well; my friends potty training child used his potty in a parking lot, my puppy pooped while in a parade. All parents also wipe away eye boogers, snot, drool blood, etc...
- Pictures and bragging: Do you have a ton of pictures of your child on your phone? Do you post funny things your child does on Facebook or call grandparents when your child does good on a test? Now replace "child" with "dog" in those questions.
- Car rides: Dog love 'em. Kids love 'em. Rides in the car can tire kids out. Rides in the car can tire dogs out. The car may be the best thing ever invented for kid and dog parenting. Unless you have a child that screams in the car or a dogs that whines in the car.
- Food: Dogs and kids can both be picky eaters and unruly at meal times. And the messes...
- Messes: Maybe this was covered in the body waste bullet but maybe it was not. There's still the matter of fur and hair, sand and dirt, wood chips from the playground or dog park, glue from art projects and residue from chews... Let's just refer back to the "They're all just animals" quote again, shall we?
- Education, sports and socialization: For human and canine parents alike, quality schools, good teachers or trainers, fun in sports and being liked on the playground or at the dog park are important. Have you ever met an Agility or a Flyball mom? Do you know any soccer moms? Well, they're the same people, doing the same crazy things like driving long distances and squeezing practices in between work and dinner, they're just caring for different species of athletes.
- Cost: Okay, parents of kids, it is more expensive to raise kids. But keep in mind your child will likely know how to use the toilet all by themselves by the time you are paying for college and it is unlikely that any dogs will afford their parents such luxuries.
- Laundry: Whether it's dogs or humans, doing laundry is constant. Blankets, coats, bedding, towels, toys, etc, repeat. Perhaps washing machines are the best thing ever invented for kid or dog parenting. Unless you have a child that wakes when you turn it on or a dogs that barks at the spin cycle.
- Personalities: Every family has a shy one, a brave one, a loud one, a brainy one or a sporty one, kids or dogs. The interactions of each of these personality types can be similar in multi-dog families as it is in multi-kid families. And all these crazy personalities in one house would all make the best reality show, whether on Animal Planet or Lifetime.
- Toys: Kids or dogs, toys are everywhere. The living room. The dining room. The bedroom. The bathroom. The yard. Enough said.
- Decorating and Landscaping: Outside, kid parents put swing sets in the yard, dog parents put in weave poles. We all avoid toxic plants and safety hazards and secure fences are also a plus for all. Inside, fragile stuff is kept out of kids reach or tail swing level. Cords, wires etc must be secured. Baby proofing and puppy proofing are very similar practices. Let's just be honest about this bullet point: Parents of kids or dogs, you can never have nice things.
- Lack of sleep: Besides the obvious every four hour puppy potty breaks and baby feedings, dogs and kids all have nightmares or get woken up by sirens. If it weren't for parents of dogs and kids, there would be no coffee industry.
- Odors: Newborns and puppies might smell nice to some but eventually those cute newborn humans or canines will stink. They'll roll in the mud, get into the garbage, get slobbery and sweaty and you'll have to hose them off because they'll refuse to bathe. And that's just the human children! I won't get into what dogs might do to stink up your life.
- Noise: My friend recently said that last summer her kids were yelling out the window at the neighbor when they were supposed to be going to bed... my dogs "yell" out the window to the neighbors all the time. Is anyone else thinking "They're all just animals" again?