Do You Treat Your Dog Like Your Child?

Posted by Janet Gurtler on

I was walking with my dog yesterday, chatting with her as we walked, like I do. I often get caught talking to my dog in public. And frankly, it doesn't embarrass me at all. I figure if people think I'm a weirdo for having conversations with my dog, then they really don't get it. They don't understand dogs and people. And the bond. And that's sad for them. 

My husband is currently finishing our basement and when it's done, we are putting our house up for sale. The reason I bring this up in a seemingly random way, is that it was the topic of my conversation with Betty. My dog. The one who I talk to. 

We were passing a house with a barking dog and Betty was curious and intrigued. And so I says to her, I says, "Hey Betty. When we move, maybe we'll move beside a house with a nice dog, and you'll have a new friend to play with."

She wagged her tail, maybe intrigued by that thought, maybe just because she's a happy dog. Probably #2. 

But, it warmed my heart , thinking of Betty moving into a new house and having a built in bestie dog next door. She'd love it so much. 

It also made me smile, because at one time, I would have had the same conversation with my son. And been interested in kids in a new  neigbourhood.  Now my son is a young adult in University. He's still living at home, but the plan is, once he graduates and gets a job, well, he won't be living with his parents anymore. And he doesn't need a built in bestie next door, because he's old enough to make his own friends, and he's not going to be in the house forever. . 

But Betty (and Bruce, our aging Chihuahua). They will live with us their whole lives. Dogs don't grow up and move away from you. Children do. And that's okay. That's the plan, and they're definitely supposed to. And kids are great and I love mine and all, but when I had this thought about moving and I was fantisizing about new dog frineds, I realized that my dog and many dogs, they really can fill a maternal and paternal need as kids grow up and away. 

I only had one child, so I miss having a little one around. I don't know that I got my fill. But now, instead of driving my 20 year old insane, I have a new creature to mother. My Golden. 

Of course, families with young kids definitely benefit from having a dog too. A dog adds such joy and happiness to people's lives. Dogs with their unconditional love, can add so much to young children's lives. They can teach responsiblitiy to kids and add an element of love to their lives that is enriching and joyful. 

But also, for singles or for couples who choose not to have kids, or who are unable to have kids,  and for people like me, whose kids are growing up and seeking their independence and finding their way in the world- dogs can fill a void as well. They are like our babies, only of course, they're not. But they are

I was reading on a group somewhere, and a young person was asking for advice on how her dog would react to her being away for work. Should she put her in daycare? Would the dog's development and bond to her be affected by her absence. And I got it. She loves the you know what out of her dog, and she wants the dog and her to have a healthy great relationship. But it was also kind of funny because um. It's a dog. 

In general, it seems like we North American's love our dogs in a different way than people did 30 or 40 years ago. They are FAMILY. They get birthday parties, and clothes and regular grooming. I haven't had my hair cut in almost a year. But Betty has regular groomings. 

I'm obsessed by how beautiful she is. I take her picture all the time. I buy her treats. I walk her every single day. I mean romp, run, chase balls and sticks, walk.

I worry about her,  too. She's kind of a Covid dog. She's not used to being alone. I don't know how she'd cope with it. I mean, in my heart, I know she'd be fine. But do I want her to have to suffer like that? That's kind of a joke, but kind of not.  We are all at home in my house, working, schooling and keeping the dogs company. 

Betty is not our first dog. My husband and I had a Black Lab when we first got married. Peppsy was like our first child. I loved that dog and I took good care of her, but then I had my son and she kind of got put on the back burner a bit. I still loved her and looked after her, but my son came first. 

But now that my son is grown, Betty Bee is the Queen. Bruce the Chihuahua is loved and cared for too, but Betty needs walks and play and that's my role. I love looking after her and I love when she's happy and playing. I do what I can to make her happy. And I hope we get good doggie neighbours.  

I used to take my son out for walks when he was little. I used to spend weekends entertaining him and keeping him busy. Now, the focus is on Betty. I'm even looking forward to taking her camping, because of how much she loves being outside and playing, not because I love camping. 

At one time, I did the same thing for my child, and now I do it for my dog. I buy her things, the way I used to buy things for my child. I have a phone full of her pictures. She is my baby. My love. My furry little child. 

Do you treat your child like a dog? 

Good. Good for you!


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