Is a dog the new kid?

Many of my friends are getting dogs. Nothing revolutionary there but it seems they are getting them as a replacement for kids. I could be wrong about this but all signs seem to point to less couples having babies and going for option B – fur kids.

Now these assumptions are based purely on my own little circle of friends. It could be a vastly different story where you live; friends may be having babies all over the place and making you feel left out because you don’t have your own bundle of 46 chromosome magic. If this is the case and you’re feeling pressured then stop and take a moment to think it through – babies turn into big babies that need constant care and maintenance until they’re 18 at which time they leave home for two weeks only to find it’s ridiculously expensive and return for another 7. Peer pressure is never a good reason to have a baby*.

*Unless the future of the human race depends on it but hey, cross that bridge when you get to it!

So, one after another friends were taking on canine kids of all varieties while at the same time no signs, outward or otherwise, that real humanoid kids were on the way. Conversely, some friends who did have kids were having 2 or 3; perhaps they sensed we weren’t doing our bit to populate the earth. The childless couples (I want to say by choice but seriously I don’t know, for some it’s not – and I don’t want to make light of something that must be rough to deal with) were taking on dogs with great enthusiasm.

We are no exception with 3 of the furry things living in the laundry and sometimes it really feels like they are like real kids, no joke! They fight every now and then, argue over who gets treats, we give them time-out, they sometimes don’t eat their dinner, other days they won’t go to bed, occasionally they’ll embarrass us in front of visitors (Harry, I’m talking to you and your ridiculous [would you like a step-ladder?] attempts to impregnate Boston’s leg!). We even catch ourselves talking about dog dads and mums, fur kids (or fur children as they’re referred to here) and putting them in our will (only kidding).

Are they a substitute for real human kids? Personally I would say no, despite the OTT dog lovers out there who would *beg* to differ. They’re quite different from humans. For example, one of our dogs (close your ears Boston) is getting very close to retirement age (retirement from life that is). I know that in the next few months I may well be down at the vet balling my eyes out having to let her go peacefully. Last time I checked you can’t do that with kids (even if you really want to). But I accept that dogs aren’t going to be with us forever, we just enjoy the times we have now, knowing that dogs do live the moment rather than worrying about what tomorrow may hold. I also don’t believe in smothering dogs with too much affection. After all, they’re pack animals and are happiest when you act as their leader and master, not an insipid, human vending machine with treats on tap and an open invitation to sleep on the bed. Humans are really unique creatures and there is a massive gulf between us and animals and I believe it best to avoid trying to humanise our dogs, no matter how much we love them.

Bad dog dad!

I’m pretty firm with our dogs, they stay in the laundry, allowed inside only when invited, we heel them when we walk, treats are rare, food is taken away if it isn’t eaten, we go through doors first, don’t let them eat with us (or before us) and other reminders that we’re the pack leaders and they don’t need to worry about a thing. Most of the time this approach works best.

That aside, we love spending time with our dogs especially in the summer time, long walks along the beach or through the reserve, even special day trips if they’re lucky (like this shot of Saatchi when we took him up Sumner hill to play on the swings, yeh I thought it was an odd choice for a dog too!). They give us a lot of love and affection, and plenty of loyal devotion even if they can be a bit stubborn or rebellious at times. I suppose in some strange way maybe they do substitute for human kids but they’re not the same thing. Dogs won’t bleed you dry, make you ring the police when they don’t come home at night or throw tantrums when it’s time to put their toys away. They’re cheap to feed, don’t need nappies changed or expensive school uniforms. They let you sleep at night (except when a rogue hedgehog wanders on to the property) and are always happy to see you in the morning. And yes our dogs do have their own page on Facebook (there I said it).

Don’t get me started on the whole ‘it’s selfish’ debate (discussed here). It’s definitely a personal choice and I don’t think there’s need to criticise either point of view. I’m happy for others to have kids (especially when I get to be Uncle 🙂 but we don’t have any plans ourselves. Maybe one day, time will tell.

In the meantime, fur kids are where it’s at for us and it seems for a growing number of our friends. Now who wants to round up the saveloys and put on the next fur party?

ps Just a quick aside and completely unrelated but two of my favourite bloggers have both been talking about the Fonz, here and here. Whoa! Is this a sign that the Fonz is making a comeback? The A-Team did so maybe we’ll see a remake of Happy Days. Thanks Fonz for making it cool to adjust your do in public …

Dog is the new kid
Tagged on: