Gen Y Dogma: Puppy Vs. Baby Edition
Is getting a puppy a logical first step toward having kids? Not necessarily. Christina Peden talks about the ways puppies and babies are similar and different.
You and your partner have made the leap and adopted a puppy. Great news! Enjoy it. And then be ready for the, “Ooooh, so I guess you’ll be having kids next!” remarks from family, coworkers and sometimes random strangers. Meanwhile, you’ll be thinking, “Kids? Now? No way!” Still, there are some definite similarities (and marked differences) between babies of the human and fur varieties. Let’s go through the list, shall we?
You can swear in front of them…
Although with a baby, this only lasts for a limited time. Before you know it, they’re going to start repeating that stuff, and no one wants to be THAT parent. You don’t want your baby’s first word to be “S*%!”. On the other hand, there’s no time limit with your dog; you know they’re never going to be able to bust out a “[email protected]$% you!” to another pup that annoys them at the park (what a relief!). So by all means, keep on cussing up a storm (if you feel so inclined) while you still can.
You’re in charge of cleaning up their poo and pee… and whatever else rears its ugly head
Let’s call this one even (and maybe the ‘people parents’ out there will disagree with me on this — that’s fair). Most dogs can be housetrained pretty quickly, so you won’t be changing pee pads multiple times a day like with diapers, but you will have to pick up your dog’s poo when they go. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Like any pet, your dog will also have accidents occasionally, so it never really ends. Babies can be in diapers for more than two years, and I’ve heard from friends with kids that there’s nothing quite as disgusting as baby poop (wow, can’t wait to experience that one for myself). Plus, there’s the whole spitting up thing.
You have to raise them to be good citizens of the world…
Okay, so some people might say that the stakes are lower with a puppy. Sure, you don’t need to raise your dog to be self-sufficient, get into a “good” school or find a fulfilling career, but you still have to bring them up to become happy, well-adjusted and polite members of society, canine or otherwise. The pitfalls of not setting limits for your furbaby can be as dire as not doing the same for your human child. You could end up with a kid that doesn’t listen, throws near-constant tantrums and doesn’t play well with others, and you could also end up with a dog that bites, jumps, humps anything that moves or is aggressive with people or other dogs — if you don’t do your job as a parent.
You can put your puppy in its crate at night or when you go out…
Ummm, not so much with a human baby. A lot of people who have never owned a dog think that crates are cruel, but it’s actually meant to be a calming place for your puppy; a little den or safe haven that’s just for them. Sure, you can have a playpen or crib for your baby, but would you leave them there and go out shopping or to dinner or the bar? I think not! At the end of the day, puppies and babies (while both dependent on you) have very different needs, and puppies grow up a lot faster than babies do. By the time your puppy is eight weeks old and ready to go home, they’re already walking.
If you’re not feeling up to it, you can have a lazy day and your dog won’t mind
Say you’re sick, tired, or (horror of horrors) you went out last night and had a leeetle too much to drink. At the end of the day, dogs are pretty adaptable. If you’re not feeling well, they’ll usually sense it and lay quietly at your side, wanting to make you feel better. If you’re hungover and need to sleep in? They’re generally pretty happy to keep you company in the nap department. Kids? There’s no downtime with kids. Zip. Zilch. Nada. You don’t get to take a ‘day off’ — your kids need three healthy meals a day (no shoveling a few cups of kibble into a bowl!), parental supervision, fun and learning. Can you imagine a two-year-old lounging around all day just because their parents were feeling tired, sick or lazy? Nope, didn’t think so.
At the end of the day, there are some definite similarities between bring home puppy and bringing home baby, but let’s face it: a puppy is waaaaay less of a commitment than a full-fledged human being.
And right now, that’s a good thing. I don’t plan on having kids anytime in the near future, and neither do a lot of Gen Y-ers. Life is more expensive now than it was for our parents’ generation. Factor in outrageous student loans and how hard it’s been to find a decent job since the economic downturn; the reality is, it’s simply takes longer to establish yourself than it did 30 or 40 years ago.
But a puppy? A puppy can be a great place to start. You get used to really, truly putting a completely-dependent-on-you living creature ahead of yourself. You don’t want to go for a long walk on your ‘lazy Sunday’, but you do it anyway because you know it’s the best thing for your pup. It really sucks when you’ve got tumbleweeds of pet hair rolling around your apartment even though you just vacuumed two days ago, but you realize it comes with territory, suck it up (with the vacuum, again) and deal with it.
It can also give you great insight into what kind of parents you and your partner might be, which is exactly what I’ll be talking about next week. Becoming pet parents together introduces a whole new dynamic to your relationship and sometimes you’re faced with challenges you might not have expected. What happens when the two of you have vastly different ‘parenting’ styles? Is your dog going to need therapy when he or she grows up?!
Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada’s all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city’s numerous parks or curled up with a good book.