There she is. My baby girl, Nina.
I have a beagle. Her name is Nina. She is 13 years old. My family brought her home when she was 6 weeks old. And from that day to this, she hasn’t changed one bit. Since I became her sole caretaker a few years ago, there have been many times that people thought I was referring to my months-old infant at home when I spoke about Nina. O no….she is not a cute, roly-poly little child. She’s a cute, roly-poly, 27 pound, senior dog.
Perhaps one of the reasons why I feel more comfortable about having a child than many first time mommy-to-be’s is because of Nina. She has dictated the ins and outs of my life without me even knowing it at times. From bailing out of RSVP’d events to having to leave work early to care for her, it goes without saying that having a dog is one of the best training experiences before having a child.
How so? Let me count the ways…
1) Dogs don’t talk. They might bark, howl, and growl but you will never hear a coherent word come out of their mouth. (Okay…maybe here’s a rare example). You might talk to them as if they can understand every word you say, but at the end of the day, there will forever be a language barrier between you and your furry one. Basically, you have to read their mind. If you have ever had a dog that was sick, you know exactly what I mean. You ask the dog a million questions, no answer. You poke and feel around, not much help. You pace around for a day or two until you break down crying and go to the vet (cha-ching!), and all the dog had was gas. Yes, been there, done that.
2) You clean up their poop. (at least you are SUPPOSED to, people). It is somewhat guaranteed that when a human child reaches a certain age, they take care of their own business in the bathroom. But for 13 years, someone had to pick up Nina’s poop twice a day, every day of the year. I have to do that in a few hours actually. In a way, life revolves around the dog’s bowels movements. Many a night have I had to bow out gracefully from a party and risked getting a speeding ticket because it was past Nina’s poop time. Now, if you have a great fenced in woody area that your dog has been trained to use, god bless you. For the majority of pet owners, picking up poop will never go away.
3) Instead of terrible 2’s, dogs have Terrible 2+ Onwards. There might be some truth to dogs having a short term memory, which is why they love you no matter what even if you punished them an hour ago. But believe you me, they have attitudes. They sneak. They figure out how to do something another way. No chewing on shoes in the bedroom? You will find those shoes in the laundry basket. They have looks of annoyance and plain bitchiness. I swear Nina rolled her eyes at me at least a few times. And when they don’t like something, watch out. Try soothing those howls. Luckily, I’ve never needed Cesar Milan, but Nina has her moments.
4) They get dirty. And you have to bathe them because they won’t do it themselves. Again, children usually learn to bathe themselves at a certain age. Dogs need to get bathed on the regular. And whether you do it, or pay a groomer, it is a never ending cycle. Between the brushing, the clipping, the ear cleaning, the teeth cleaning, and all the squirming in between…its exhausting.
5) Once in a routine, it is very hard to change. You would think sleeping in on the weekends is no problem with a dog. But if they are used to going out to pee and poop at 630 AM before work, they are scratching the door and running around panting at 6:25 AM on Saturday AND Sunday. They don’t know about your weekends or holidays. All they know is that they have to go. Unless you want them to go on your floor, your butt is up at 630 AM every day regardless.
6) It’s like being a single parent. If you are not in a live-in relationship, and the dog only has you, the success of your dating life can ultimately be determined by your dog. If a prospective partner can’t stand your dog, that can be grounds for a break-up. If your dog can’t stand somebody YOU bring around, it can lead to countless arguments and stress. Seriously, watch the Dog Whisperer. Cesar Milan is as much a couple’s counselor than he is a dog behaviorist.
So there you have it. Amongst many, many other things, that’s how having a dog is like raising a child day after day and year after year. And just like raising a child, the benefits outweigh the costs a trillion times over!
How is YOUR dog like a child? Comment below!