In Defense of “Dog Moms”

It happens to most moms at some point in their lives. It happened to me when I was pregnant with my first child. I was nearly due, bellyaching to a friend about how difficult sleeping had become and how I would get even less sleep when the baby came. Then, she said it.

“I know what you mean- the puppy keeps me up all night!”

I fell silent. She kept talking. After a moment, I changed the subject. You don’t compare dogs to children. You just don’t.

Dogs have always been a part of my family. Spoiled, lazy, coddled, and smothered, our dogs occupy a space in our hearts which is more than a four-legged friend but less than a child.

Perhaps that’s the gist :: loving a child as your own sets your pet apart.

Now, though, we find ourselves in a back-to-the-future stage of parenthood where we simultaneously celebrate the start of an empty nest while trying not to cling too much to the smallness of our youngsters.

Enter, doggies.

For a mama who’s never experienced baby fever, my sudden and insatiable desire to mother some puppies is as typical as it is amusing. Recently, we got a dog. Then, we got another. Suddenly, I remember my old friend… comparing my kid to her dog. And, I get it.

We love. That’s part of what humans do. 

“Dog moms” are doing just that:: loving another living being. Mothering. They’re really not so bad. I’ll tell you why.

Dog Moms Sympathize

They think they know what we’re going through. We know they don’t. They show compassion, trying to grasp at that unspoken camaraderie which should-but doesn’t always-exist between parents. Maybe it seems a bit like one-upping; maybe they’re just trying to relate in the only way they know how.

Dog Moms Don’t Own Dogs

Pet owners-at least, the good ones-make sacrifices. They experience pride, have to make decisions. They worry. They plan.

Even farmers will tell say, you don’t own animals. You raise them.

I’m a mom and a dog mom. I can’t just take off on vacation. I have to make sure the kids and the pets are well taken care of. Caring for a pet can be great preparation for being a mom. I mean… maybe let’s start with taking care of a plant. But if all goes well there, caring for an animal must be the next closest thing!

Dog Moms Know Judgement

One of the most surprising things you come across when you first become a parent is how often people voice their opinions of you for no other reason than that you have a child. Your friends, your coworkers, random strangers on the street- even other moms. We all think we know better.

No matter where you are in your journey of raising children, there is probably someone waiting to tell you about their pet. A dog owner, a cat owner, someone who recently saved a pig. And someone else is there to tell them what they should do differently, just as they tell parents all the time.

Because none of us escape it… the judgement. All we can do is try hard not to pass it.

Maybe, in some ways, a “dog mom” is even better prepared for the court of motherhood than those of us who’ve forgotten what it’s like to only have a Fido. 

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