I’d like to share a little story about what it means to be a Dog Mom, and how you know you definitely are one.
There’s a fly in the house.
I’m sure it got in when I left the door open to chat with a neighbor. It’s not the biggest fly I’ve ever seen. In fact, I would say it’s about average size. It’s been trying to get back outside for three days now, and I’m pretty surprised it’s still alive. The fly is buzzing around, going from the kitchen, to the living room, to the bedroom, and back to the kitchen. It knocks against the windows and heads toward the light. It’s perfectly harmless (albeit annoying), and I probably wouldn’t have noticed its presence if it weren’t for Oscar.
You see, Oscar is scared of flies.
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You could say that Oscar wouldn’t hurt a fly. And that’s because he’s cowering in his crate or burrowing himself in a pile of clothes or pillows to get away from it. He shakes, and whimpers, and refuses to join me on the couch for a cuddle. Instead, he looks at me with his huge, imploring eyes, almost asking: “Why aren’t you in this crate with me, woman? Don’t you know that the buzzing monster is on the loose and hunting us? All is lost!” And it’s because of all this that I’ve spent the last three evenings trying to kill the surprisingly cagey fly.
This is how I know that I’m a “Pet Parent.” Oscar is petrified of a harmless fly, and instead of making fun of him (okay, made I did chide him a little), I’ve spent the better part of three hours with dish towel in my hand, hunting this annoying creature down. An outsider watching this fruitless exercise in futility might think it looks ridiculous, but all I want is Oscar to stop hiding… and to mount that fly’s head above my mantle.
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As a Pet Parent and Dog Mom, I go to lengths one would go to for their human kids. They check for monsters under the bed, let them crawl into bed with them when there’s a thunder storm and make up silly stories to explain frightening experiences. Because I don’t have children of the human kind, I thought I’d be spared this ritual. But now that Oscar’s in my life, I’m performing these parenting rites of passage – for my furry kid.
Some may say that I’m taking out my maternal instincts on my dog, and once I have kids, Oscar will fall in the order of the family. But here’s the thing – I’ve never wanted human children. For whatever reason, my “baby alarm clock” never went off (or was never wound up). There was no urge to get knocked up when I held someone else’s baby. Sure, they’re cute, but I didn’t feel the need to procreate another human being. But there’s one thing I knew with certainty since I was a kid – I always wanted a house full of dogs.
Even as the Editor-in-Chief of PetGuide, I think I’m pretty moderate in terms of my humanization of dogs. I believe I’m just like other Pet Parents out there who love their dogs and worry over them. I like to think that I don’t judge others for the way they raise their dogs, and I understand to others, their dog is not their fur baby – it’s a pet. As long as your dog is getting the care, food, shelter and affection it needs, you’re good in my books. I also know that others think I’m a bit touched in the head, that I go overboard when it comes to Oscar. I bake for dogs, but not for people. Oscar has a fully stocked winter wardrobe and is the proud owner of a closet of adorable fashions and Halloween costumes. And I drive an hour from where I live to drop him off at his GrandMoe’s house when I’m out of town… just so that he’s comfortable and spoiled while I’m gone.
Perhaps humanization isn’t the right word for how I feel about Oscar. I know he’s a dog. I know that he’s not going to be around as long as I want him to. But I also know that we’re our own little family. He’s more to me than just a furry roommate who occasionally drags his butt on the floor and pukes on the couch. He’s more than just a responsibility that makes me look outside of myself and care for another living creature. He’s more than just a best friend who waits at the top of the stairs every day for me to come home so he can perform his adorable happy dance for me alone. And that’s why I’m a Pet Parent – because he is pure joy, happiness and love. Oscar deserves a dedicated Pet Parent for all he gives me… and that’s why I will gladly transform into the Super Fly Ninja to ensure any fly that crosses my doorway will be smooshed.