I’m the “mother” of three darling terriers, Bella, Scuppers, and Sable, and let me tell you, some days they can be a real handful! You might imagine the potty routines and destructive abilities of a three-month-old, a two-year-old, and an eleven-year-old pup, each of which has a strong and unique personality. It takes a lot of time and attention on my part, and not a day goes by without me thinking about how much more time parenting of a child would require. Below are a few ways in which raising dogs is easier than raising children.
Potty training takes several weeks, as opposed to several years
Most puppies can be “housebroken” in a few weeks if their owner is consistent and knowledgeable. My Sable is only three months old, and she’s almost there! Children need diaper changes over the first couple of years of life, at least. Some sources indicate that an average baby 3-6 months old requires 10-12 changes a day, for a grand total of 4015 diapers a year! And then the training can go on and on—in fact, by the age of six, 10 percent of children are still occasional bed wetters. Reading this statistic, I don’t feel so bad about my Scuppers continuing to wear a diaper.
Dogs are always happy to see you—they’re never in a grouchy mood
It’s amazing how I might run down to the store for fifteen minutes, and even with this brief time away from home, my dogs are elated to see me. They greet me at the door with barks, jumps, and sometimes yelps of delight. On the other hand, how often does the parent of a teenager come home to a surly and silent youth who’d just as soon be left alone?
You never have to worry about where they are when Friday at midnight rolls around
My dogs are indoors all the time, except when they are with me, and so I never worry that they are out getting into trouble or even worse, in danger. Children are often away from their parents, and all of us who were once teenagers know that’s cause for concern!
You can allow them to sleep in your bedroom—and perhaps even in your bed—without worrying that they’ll be permanently psychiatrically scarred
My dogs are spoiled rotten! They have their own beds that are placed next to ours, and I tuck them in to sleep every night. Then, when it’s almost time to get up in the morning, they enjoy jumping into our bed for a snuggle with my husband and me. In the United States, it’s not considered good parenting in most circles to have children in the parent’s bedroom for long, and bringing them into the couple’s bed is even more frowned upon. I would hate to have to give that special family time up with my pups.
You can cut their hair anyway you want
Once children reach a certain age, they tend to have strong opinions about how they want their hair styled, not to mention other fashion decisions, and this often leads to debates and arguments with their parents. I’ve never met a dog who resisted even the most ridiculous hair style or outfit chosen by its owner. My dog Bella is a Manchester terrier, so her hair is short. She chills easily and wears a sweater–she’s never given me any grief about the silly red plaid sweater I put on her winter after winter.
Dogs don’t have children and then leave them with you to be raised. Plus, you get to decide if and when your dog will become a mother
It’s not uncommon these days to see grandparents who, due to one situational factor or another, are busy with the fulltime job of childrearing to their children’s children. Just imagine if you’d finally, after eighteen or more years of hard work, reached your empty nest stage, and then were greeted with the surprise news that your child was pregnant and needed you to take on the task of raising her child as well! Most dog owners take steps to ensure that our dogs don’t produce unwanted pups, but even if this were to accidentally happen, it wouldn’t permanently alter our lives. After all, if your dog does have pups, you can give them away after eight weeks!
You don’t have to be a positive role model
Sometimes dinnertime conversation around our home is adult-oriented, and it’s sure nice to know that our dogs are not being negatively influenced. It’s also great to not have to chat with Bella, Sable, and Scuppers about how their day went or to have to spend dinnertime inquiring about upcoming school assignments. My husband and I can instead catch up with one other and make plans for the weekend to come. We can also choose foods that we like, that might not be child-friendly. Plus, we don’t have to demonstrate great table manners for a child who is learning how to relate in the world. To be perfectly honest, there have even been times when that chocolate cream pie was so wonderful, I simply had to lick the plate!
They don’t have to be watched 24/7
I’ve heard of parents having child protective services called on them for leaving their kid in the car for a few minutes while they dashed into a store. Being the proud mother of two dogs, I’m extremely protective and constantly on watch to ensure their safety, but I often bring the dogs along for the ride and then leave them in the car while I go in to shop–I’ve never been scolded for doing so! I live in a constantly cool part of the country and so the problem of heat in vehicles isn’t a concern most of the year. And if it’s too warm or too cold, I simply leave them at home
They don’t ask to borrow the car
The rearing of pets in general is much, much less costly than that of children, and driving is just one example of why. When kids begin to drive, the vehicle insurance rates go up for the household. And then there’s the cost to purchase a vehicle for that teenager so that your car is available when you need and want to use it and so that you know it will be in the same condition you left it in.
Many parents would proclaim that a child is well worth any amount of sacrifice, and some would argue that comparing the bond between a mother and child to that between a pet owner and her dog is silly. On the contrary, I know for a fact that many dog owners would insist that the bond they have with their pet is perhaps even stronger than that of many parents to their children. But there’s no need for a contest! Love is love, and quality and quantity of this wonderful emotion is impossible to measure.
Do We Treat our Pets Like Children?