I Don’t Want a Dog

Apr 20

Today it is my pleasure to offer you a thought-provoking guest post from Jana of An Attitude Adjustment.  Jana and I first “met” in the comments section of Motherlode, a locale from which I have since fled, seeking kinder, gentler pastures in the bosom of my blogging community, but where she remains, honorably defending mothers and women with her trademark strength and reason.

At An Attitude Adjustment, Jana muses about her triumphs and struggles as a stay-at-home mother of two and tackles a bevy of topics from current events to marital politics.  An English teacher, she also writes frequently about books and poetry. Jana brings wonderful humor and energy to her writing and her posts often provoke excellent discussion in the comments section.

Thanks, Jana, for posting at Motherese today.

I Don’t Want a Dog

by Jana of An Attitude Adjustment

One of my first memories is being chased by my blonde dog, Corey, around the dining room table. It was glass, so I could see my reflection, and my only clothing on that hot summer day was a diaper. I was shrieking partly from joy, and partly from fear. It wasn’t often that Corey came out of the basement in our row-home. He practically lived there, and when I saw him after a while, he seemed to have grown whiskers. He was like an old man. And he bolted right for me. (This is why, I assume, my mother didn’t bring him up that often.)

A few months later, my mom found another home for Corey. She worried I’d be upset– even though Corey and I weren’t the best of friends–so she didn’t tell me. Finally, my family convinced her it was something she could no longer hide, and she told me Corey went to live with someone else. I was sad for a bit, but I got over it easily. I was more of a cat girl, anyway.

That was the only time I owned a dog, and it will probably be the last. Ever.

When my husband and I were setting up our first real date, after a couple of years of friendship, we chatted on the phone for an hour or so. It was that conversation that was pivotal to our burgeoning relationship, because in that conversation, he revealed that he was allergic to dogs.

I decided then and there that he might quite possibly be The One.

I don’t really like dogs. I like some dogs. Good ones. Ones that are calm and quiet and nice and not too imposing. I liked the golden retriever who lived at a childhood acquaintance’s house because she behaved like a classy lady. I like my neighbor’s black Labrador because she lies in the warm summer sun like a yogi.

But most dogs are not like that. Most dogs bark, jump, pant with bad breath, drool all over tennis balls, lick.

Ick.

I dislike dog hair. I dislike dog smell.

I don’t want a dog. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I have no compassion for dogs. I do feel a bit bad when a dog stands before me with raised eyebrows, begging for attention. And I usually give the obligatory pat. When I watched my aunt’s dogs for a week just after college, I left them downstairs at night because I did not want to share a bed with them, as they were accustomed to. After fifteen minutes of high-pitched crying, though, I let them come up. They stopped crying and took up the entire bed. I didn’t sleep well, but at least no one could call me a heartless person.

But I don’t want a creature who wakes me at the crack of dawn to go outside, who barks so loudly my house shakes when someone comes to the door, who requires me to walk him, who needs his hot, soft poop picked up every day, several times a day, with a plastic bag from the supermarket. It’s just undignified. At least children, eventually, wipe their own butts.

And this is where I came to my epiphany about how my un-want of dogs is a lot like  other people’s un-want of children.

Since I was young, I knew I wanted kids. I never questioned it, even though I question almost everything. I wanted the very human experience of being a mother. And so far, motherhood has come very naturally to me.

Yet I have friends who don’t want kids, or who are on the fence about it–friends in healthy, happy marriages, friends with good incomes and nice houses. And they don’t want to see what little creature they can create through a lot of heavy breathing.

I’ve often tried to understand this un-want. When I plop on the couch for fifteen minutes before I inevitably doze off, when I try to convince my toddler to eat a bite of ravioli that he claims, after 15 minutes, is “too hot,” when I wake up in the middle of the night to a screaming baby who’s teething, I think, This is hard.

And from my vegetal state on the couch, I often ask my husband, “Can you believe some people don’t want kids?”

Of course, I usually say this when both kids are magically asleep, the state in which I adore them most.

When you have kids, there is never enough time to do all that you want to do. There is rarely time to see yourself as a separate entity from the little ones who hobble around, hiding your keys behind couch cushions. Having kids becomes a part of your identity, part of the way you look at the world. There is fatigue and anxiety and frustration, but there is also joy, more joy than I ever thought possible in my life.

Before children, I’d wake on a Saturday morning around 8:30 a.m. My husband and I would listen to the soft music from a college radio station and read the paper, or we’d go out for breakfast. We’d shop or see a movie, see friends for dinner or go to a restaurant. Then, on Sunday, we’d do it all over again.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Yet I was getting bored. I was ready for a new stage in my life, the next grade level. Once I had a washer and dryer to call my own, heavy breathing commenced, and nine months later, a wailing boy who looked just like me was wrapped in swaddling hospital blankets and handed over. I’ve been the same and not the same since.

I imagine the people who don’t want kids like them well enough, when they’re someone else’s. They might have a kid if there were certain guarantees, just like I might have a dog if he agreed never to lick me, poop on my floor, or bark for no reason. Some couples might have kids if they could be assured of no night-wakings, no hot spit-up on their jeans; they might agree to having a child if he or she could be miraculously transported out of the womb with nary a drop of blood or vernix. I assume they don’t want the anxiety that comes with rushing to the pediatrician when a baby gets a fever, or to the emergency room when their middle-schooler falls from the jungle gym. They want quiet nights of opera or jazz, vacations to Hawaii or Switzerland, a house free of broken crayons and cookie crumbs. Women who don’t want kids are certainly  horrified by the sensation of their very neatly kept vagina splitting-in-half, followed by the red raw blisters that become their nipples after breastfeeding for the first couple of days.

Yes, it’s all gross. And yet those things don’t scare me, or bother me, really. I find each of those experiences amazing, even beautiful, in a weird way. With each heartbreak or rough patch (physical or emotional) of parenting comes renewal, light-heartedness, spiritual fulfillment, fun.

I guess that dogs bring joy, too. They give one an excuse to take walks. They’re happy to see people, and they don’t expect much in return. They’ve taken up space in art for centuries as symbols of loyalty. They lead the blind, they help solve crimes, they scare away burglars and villains.

But dog joy is a joy I will leave to others, for now. Or at least until my kids are out of the house, and I want to feel needed again. Then I may get a cat.

*I hope I haven’t offended any dog-lovers.

Why do you have a dog, or why don’t you?

Why did you have kids, or why didn’t (haven’t) you?

Image: Golden retriever by pwcorgigirl via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne April 20, 2010 at 9:14 am

I LOVE your honesty. I happen to be a big-time dog lover, but I can totally appreciate everything you say. Every time they wake me up at 6:00 on the weekend, my husband says, “Well, honey…it’ll be like this when we have kids.” Part of me thinks, “yikes!” And part of me thinks, “I can’t wait!” Perhaps my tolerance of dog mayhem is a good sign of tolerance to come when we do have kids? Man, I hope so.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

I do think that it’s good preparation for having a kid. Dogs limit your freedom in some way, and kids do that even more. (But I was fine not having that preparation!)

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privilegeofparenting April 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

Firstly, Kristen, thanks for curating (you bring such interesting guests that it is a bit more like a salon than a block party). And I know what you mean about the Motherlode comments—sort of like the commissary at a big high school or a movie studio, I pass through, run into friends but prefer to go off campus with my actual peeps.

And thank you Jana, I enjoyed this post in a sort of 360 degree way, myself having “had” a dog as a kid that then “disappeared” because he didn’t fit into my parents’ “Ordinary People” rigidity. I went on liking dogs, but never wanting one—in no need to pick up soft steaming crap with plastic bags.

But then there is the issue of kids getting old enough to want a dog (I’m the allergic one, as is my wife). Still, my first dog as a parent literally bit me, and it was a journey to become a true dog lover (For more on that see Two Dog Night: http://tiny.cc/tezs0).

One of the things which excites me about parenting is that through the journey of losing all we hoped not to lose via the surrender to dogs, we still lose, at least in the short run, as parents as you point out. Along the way, it is my hope, that parenting actually widens our love for the world and each other… making space for dogs (or not) in our expanding “Always Room on Mama’s Lap,” consciousness.

Finally, I like what you say about not all people needing or wanting kids—it’s a parenting attitude, however, that of caring about the world and each other, that I think helps us find our way to workable happiness (i.e. laced with sadness, realistic and nourishing lives, not TV marketing images of shiny fake happiness—we can find a Motherlode of that in the commissaries of our world if we want it)—and also helps us make our way toward each other in a more gratifying manner.

As for the hot soft poop, I’ve learned that if you’re fortunate to have a garden and hot dry LA weather you can wait a little while and it’s like picking up Eier Kichel from the Jewish Bakery.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

I was thinking yesterday, that if my son really begged for a dog, I might give in. There’s a dog who lives a couple of streets down from our house, and the dog is calm, quiet, so sweet. Furthermore, the dog LOVES my Mr. B. Watching them together warms my heart. Maybe I’ll ask the owners for their dog. He hangs outside for much of the day and doesn’t bark. He’s playful but not aggressive.

You’re definitely right that having kids widens our love for the world and probably does allow space for other creatures. This is why I’m glad I married my husband–we’ll always have a good excuse not to get a dog because of his allergy. (I’m pretending that I didn’t read the part about you having a dog while being allergic.)

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privilegeofparenting April 21, 2010 at 1:57 am

Sometimes I think of parenting (and sometimes of romantic love) as love that makes us crawl… but if we’re going to “crawl” it’s sometimes good to have a four-footed teacher around the house (kids will do, but with walking they lose just a touch of that Buddha nature they arrive with and we go talking them out of as we socialize then).

That dog down the way sounds like a good egg.

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Nicki April 20, 2010 at 9:47 am

I have to say I would frequently answer the question “do you have pets?” with “no, I have children.” LOL!

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sylvanstyle April 20, 2010 at 10:02 am

Jana, we definitely have this in common. (And in hoping to avoid offending dog-lovers! I wrote a short, silly post about this awhile back, and even it made me a teensy bit nervous.)
I just don’t have it in me to invest the kind of time, energy and emotion that so many people put into their pets. I’ve long felt that way, but particularly now that I have a child, I can’t imagine parenting an animal. I’m just not willing to make a serious commitment to the supervision and health care of a dog.
(I say this knowing that eventually, I might get a dog anyway. My husband likes them; my son loves them; I’ve even loved some. And we live in the country, where most dogs stay outside – and covered with ticks. Still not my cup of tea.)
I always knew I’d have children – but for me, that life change was part of the territory. Taking care of a pet just isn’t a natural part of mine.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 10:10 am

I’m with you, sister! (I’m nervous about it, too. Crazy, huh?)

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Tracy Todd April 20, 2010 at 10:19 am

You almost sound a little apologetic for not liking dogs or not wanting them. You shouldn’t! I think we are privileged to be living in a world where we are encouraged to be more tolerant and accepting of the differences of others. I think the biggest gift we could give our children is teach them to celebrate uniqueness in all aspects of life.

I love dogs. I don’t like cats and I hate a bird in a cage. It takes all types to make the world go round… and I love it!

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Roxanne April 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

Being a Major Dog Girl (and dog blogger), I’ll quibble with one thing. Dogs actually DO ask quite a bit of us, and when provided for properly … they aren’t as bothersome as it seems the dogs you’ve met have been.

Icky? Well, yes, they are sometimes icky.

But, not being a parent, dogs don’t seem nearly as icky as kids.

I actually *am* quite allergic to dogs, but I have them anyway. Just as you cannot imagine life with out kids, I cannot imagine life without dogs. To me, it’s very much worth it.

But, as I often muse …Dog Girl, know thyself.

The same goes for Moms, I’d say.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

Oh, I hope I didn’t intimate that I don’t think dogs take a lot of work. I know they do, and if I were a dog owner, I’d surely put my heart and soul into making sure my dog behaved well. But it’s energy I don’t want to expend. Usually, the dogs I dislike are difficult because their parents haven’t put enough effort into their upbringing. I guess it’s the same with kids, huh? I want people to be as as hard on dog owners as they are about kid owners. Is that too much to ask?

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Grisha Stewart April 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

I appreciate the honesty of your post. Getting a dog is a committment for their lifetime, or should be, so stand your ground if it is not a committment you want!

Regarding love, I hear some of you say, “I’ve even loved dogs,” in the same way I might say, I even loved seeing my neices.” I love my dogs in a deeper way. I would sell my house to move if they needed long-term care in a different climate. I would throw myself in front of the proverbial bus. They are the first happy thought in the morning and my last thought at night. I ache because of missing them when I travel. If I stop to think about their short lives, I get tears in my eyes.

I do love that dogs are much easier than kids, especially once training kicks in, and I know I am missing potential benefits of raising a human. Kudos to my clients in Seattle with dogs *and* kids. But I just don’t have the drive to be a mother. I can walk right by 10 kids in a stroller without batting an eye, but I just have to stop and say hi to any puppy!

We are all different, and that’s a good thing. :)

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blogdog April 20, 2010 at 10:45 am

I totally understand. If you don’t want a dog, can’t abide the idea of having one in the house… well, then you know what makes you (un)happy, and you know how you want to live. Sometimes people go against their instincts because they think their family should have pets, and then those pets end up being unwanted. I applaud you for not wanting to be part of that problem.

As for kids, I don’t care for them (except for my niece and nephew, who are Perfect). They’re noisy, sticky, germy, disgusting, demanding, and can get into trouble far scarier and more expensive than a pair of chewed Ferragamos. Like dogs (or cats, or parrots, or potbellied pigs, or…), kids aren’t for everyone. This is what makes us all a diverse population, and what gives us differences we can celebrate.

I remember being interviewed with a bunch of my friends at Camp Gone-to-the-Dogs. A reporter from TLC came to camp to see why any bunch of weirdos would want to spend all that money to go to camp with dogs instead of, well, being home raising human kids, or whatever other “normal” activity they expected us to be doing. They really came looking for a freak show. I hope they came away with the realization that dog owners really just another group of people who have lives, and jobs, and want to get away sometimes — only we bring the dogs.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Your dogs are like your kids, except they’re not human. Right? That seems to be the way it is for my dog-owner friends.

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blogdog April 20, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I might be in the vast minority when I say that my dogs really aren’t my kids, nor do I think of myself as a pet parent. I bought two and rescued two; I didn’t give birth to them. My dogs are my friends, my fellows, and my confederates.

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stayathomemd April 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

Great post Jana! I am a cat person who ended up with a dog. My husband is deathly allergic to cats, and I like dogs well enough. I love our dog, but he is a lot of work. I would almost say he was more disruptive to our lives than a child! My advice to anyone considering a dog would be to wait until your kids are 4 or 5 years old. It’s hard to take care of a baby and a dog at the same time. Maybe it’s just that our dog is so crazy, but he’s always eating diapers, chewing sippy cups, and barking at people that walk by our house. His bark is anathema to baby naptime. But, he and our daughter love each other like nothing else. Most of the time, that makes it all worth it. (Also, he doesn’t shed or slobber).

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm

That makes a lot of sense. When I’ve watched friends who have a dog and tiny kids, it seems like a recipe for chaos. I don’t do well with chaos.

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joely April 20, 2010 at 11:02 am

I own a dog but I completely understand it. I have a love/hate relationship with my dog. She is 14yo and a little 8 pound dachshund. My girls love her but my husband despises her. I keep telling him she is thriving on his hatred. She looks like she is a puppy and full of energy. Everyone else we know who got a dog 14 years ago, no longer has them. SO it is a long, long, long term commitment. I do no think I will get another dog, they are too much work.
Interestingly, my dog was a wedding gift from my husband , who now teases about getting rid of the dog. 14 years ago she peed on him in bed, and that was it. The dog got a dog bed and she no longer gets his attention. I told him, she was marking her territory, that she loved him. No matter. But I think I may have her for 6 more years! She keeps on ticking!

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Justine April 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

Hi Joely – we’re in the same boat as you with our dog. She was from a past relationship, and she has been quirky from the start, and now, with the addition of My Guy, two cats and a baby, she has become a handful! Dogs are hard work to begin with but when they get cranky, it becomes much worse. But I feel guilty every time I think about getting rid of her.

She has been by my side faithfully for nine years now. It would seem cruel. But she also gets less attention now, and that is also sad. I have a feeling my toddler (who now favors the cat) will turn the dog around and make her a part of the family again the way we never really could. At least I hope!

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Kristen @ Motherese April 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

Thanks again, Jana, for your post today – one that has clearly given us a lot to chew[toy] on.

As you know, I am not a dog person either. I grew up without pets, had a scary run-in with a dog as a young child, and never learned to feel comfortable with them. That being said, my brother grew up in that same house, with limited exposure to pets, and he is a former dog-owner (RIP, Quincy) and a HUGE dog-lover.

I so appreciate the presence of all the dog-lovers here, especially for the attitude that I hear ringing through the comments: be true to yourself, whether dog-lover, kid-lover, or both. I think problems really mount – as Jana notes – when we end up making a pressured choice and aren’t ready to handle the manifold responsibilities that come with it.

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BigLittleWolf April 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

I will say that I am in favor of family dogs, but with caveats. I grew up with dogs and cats – in the days of stay-at-home-moms everywhere. And a different sort of life – the 60s and early 70s.

We got a rescued dog – a big mutt – when my boys were 5 and 6. She was wonderful. I will admit, she became one more responsibility for me, but we loved her, and she gave unconditional love back. The kids did play with her, and my younger slept with her in his bed for the first years following divorce. She was clearly an incredible comfort to him during a difficult time.

Unfortunately, a dog’s life is such that the animal’s passing often coincides with empty nest. This was our case. As I was adjusting to my elder son just leaving for college, our lovely dog passed away, last fall. She had a good, happy life. She gave us all much (unconditional) love – along with more expense and more work for me.

Would I get another, now? I miss her terribly, but no. Am I glad we had her while we did? Absolutely, yes.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I assume that if your dog is well-trained and well-loved, she is a welcome addition to the family, a responsibility you willingly take on. If she’s a part of your world, caring her would not feel like a sacrifice.

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Justine April 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

I went back to my hometown recently and met up with many friends from elementary/high school and surprisingly, there were quite a few without kids. Actually they were mostly single and living the Sex and the City life. When they met my toddler, they patted her head and said “she’s cute and all, but gosh, I wouldn’t know what I would do with one of these. I definitely don’t think this is for me.”

That was when I realized that I’m glad I’m not where they are. I’m sure they feel the same, and there is no bridging this gap, or rather chasm, when we parted ways.

Different people, different priorities, and there’s no convincing others how rewarding it is to have kids without inadvertently implying that their lives are somewhat lacking. So we just address the safe zones of conversations, chat about the inconsequential (and mostly things that I don’t really care about these days) and leave it at that.

It was apparent that poopy diapers and sleepless nights are not for them. Well, I’d like to do without those either, but knowing what comes WITH them? Give me poop and eye bags any day!

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TheKitchenWitch April 20, 2010 at 11:32 am

Ewww, dogs. I am allergic to them, thank goodness, so it gives me an excuse. They drool and stink and shed way too much and are very, very needy. My kids are needy enough. Add a dog to the mix and you’ll find me in a fetal position, in the corner, sucking my thumb.

Glad to find another not-dog person.

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Eva April 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Oh, TKW – you’re hilarious!

For the record, my pup doesn’t drool or stink or shed… and I love her neediness. She gets frequent baths and smells like her sweet pea shampoo! (But I do still cringe every time I have to pick up her poo. It’s not natural!)

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I knew I liked you.

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Eva April 20, 2010 at 11:59 am

Whoa, this is a GREAT post with so much to respond to (obviously!).

I grew up on a farm, with a dog – but he was an outside dog. The idea of an inside, city dog took a while to grow on me… but I SO love that pup now. She is a part of our life and our family, and I fully believe she was meant to be *our* dog.

I really appreciate the respect you have for everyone’s decisions. Husband and I are of the “on the fence” group of happily married couples. For many years we said we didn’t want kids. And now the idea is growing on us a bit. But I have pretty strong opinions about not assuming all married couples will have babies unless “something is wrong” (as folks in my small town and my extended family believe).

Thank you for this, Jana – and for hosting, Kristen!

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm

You’re right, Eva. There is an assumption that when couples get married, the inevitable next step is kids. That’s not really fair. More and more, it seems, I meet people who don’t want kids, who have their own interests and desires that extend beyond “settling down” and having a family. I wonder if we now live in a culture where people are more willing to seek out what makes them happy rather than subscribe to someone else’s idea of happiness.

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Christine LaRocque April 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I love, LOVE this post. Jana, you have outdone yourself. This is tremendous! Maybe I think so because I have the dog and the kids, and boy would I ever do away with the dog. Poor thing really, since because before kids she was our baby, and now, I’m sorry to admit, she takes the backseat. But even, worse she creates a lot of work, and I have enough of that from my human family.

My husband and I were married for five years before we had children. It was all part of the “the plan”, but at first we weren’t sure if we wanted them. We were young, carefree and, I suppose, mature enough to recognize that we weren’t ready. Looking back I know we really WEREN’T ready. Maybe you never are, but I can say that the tides changed and a day came when we knew we wanted them, when we felt the tug and pull of creating a family. I would never go back!

And I can assure you, after our beloved Sadie moves on, I also won’t be going back to dog ownership.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I’m glad you like it, Christine. I actually had more time to write it than usual. (Library time!) I worried that it was a bit long, though…. I’m trying to work on the length of my pieces, because I have a tendency to be long-winded.

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Terresa Wellborn April 20, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I’ve fought getting a dog for 13 years of marriage. This year I caved because my husband was going to get a dog, any dog, with or without my approval. He’d waited too long.

So, we compromised and got a Bull Terrier. She’s a puppy. We love her. We have 4 young children (ages 2-8) and they love her, too. I can’t imagine life without her now, although it’s definitely WORK. :)

PS: Kristen, I left you something over @ my blog today. (blog love!)

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Jack April 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I have been writing about dogs quite a bit lately.

We just got a new dog. He is the first dog that has truly belonged to my children and they love him. He is 9 weeks old and it is very similar to having a baby at home, but well worth it.

I love dogs and can’t stand cats. If I never saw another I wouldn’t notice.

But that is the joy of people. We are all different. People shouldn’t have kids or any sort of pet unless they are willing to take on the commitment.

It is ok if they don’t want to, nothing wrong at all with that.

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Jana@Attitude Adjustment April 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I know a lot more people who dislike cats rather than dogs. It seems more socially acceptable to rule out cats. I don’t want either pet, but I am more open to cats because they’re independent. They don’t require as much work.

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Stacia April 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I, too, hate dog smell and dog hair and soft, hot poop, and yet we have two dogs. (But I hate soft, hot poop of the baby variety, too, and we’re about to have three of those.) => Like anything worth having (or choosing not to have), I think, both dogs and babies come with positives and negatives. The decision depends on which side of the seesaw you land on. In our case, we chose a zoo. (And don’t get me started on our cat!)

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delialloyd April 20, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Well as someone whose post was chewed over on Motherlode today, I will join this friendlier community. I, too, dislike dogs. All pets, in fact. (I also grew up in a home with lots of pets.) And I do think the reasoning is *very* similar to why some people choose not to have kids. (Though I do have 2 kids and am glad that I do.) But most of my close friends have dogs and absolutely adore them. For me it would be like having another child, except one that couldn’t talk back to me. (Come to think of it, maybe that *is* what I need…) Thanks for this. We undog people are a small group. Live long and prosper.

Delia Lloyd
http://www.realdelia.com

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Sarah April 20, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Phew, Jana, wonderful post & wonderful responses. We have three boys & a new puppy. There’s a different sort of energy with an animal in the house. With the boys it seemed absolutely logical in every way. I wouldn’t say I’m an over-the-top dog person, but I do like the snuggling and the sweet, doggy eyes. The boys, however, are learning about love and friendship and caretaking in one of the best ways I can give them. As I type this the 2-year-old is wrestling the puppy for her dog bone. Yelling SIT and DOGGIE and SIT over and over again. It’s really quite hysterical.

Ironically, I started having kids completely by accident, but the puppy? We thought about her quite a bit before she entered into our world. Even now, though I love her, I feel that she takes just as much patience (if not more) than the boys do.

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Kristen @ Motherese April 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I think Sarah makes a great point about all the lessons kids can learn from having pets in the family. Even though I doubt that we’ll ever have a dog or cat, I do hope that my boys have the chance to get to know animals so that they can be more comfortable with them than I ever was. Luckily, we live in a very dog-friendly community and our neighbors’ Golden retriever is already a gentle and patient friend to my toddler.

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Corinne April 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I’ve never had a pet. Ever. I’m allergic to cats, and am not a huge dog fan. For all the reasons you’ve mentioned. They kind of freak me out, the unpredictable and the whole big teeth thing.
But my husband is a dog person. And I do think there are things kids can gain from having a dog in the house.
That being said I’m no fool… and know I’d end up doing most of the taking care of and poop scooping… so I’m not sure that will ever happen ;)

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Gibby April 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm

What a great post!! I was never a dog person OR a kid person, and now I have both. OK, I ended up wanting the kids after marriage and take full responsibility for actually having them, but there are days when I remember…oh yeah, I forgot that I never really liked kids back then. My kids begged for a dog, so now we have a dog. I have gotten used to him, although again, there are days when I remember…oh yeah, I forgot that I never really liked dogs.

Some days I wonder how I ended up with this life, but then I realize that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

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Finola April 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I hope it’s not rude to comment on your blog with a link to my blog, but I wrote about this topic recently too. I am in 100% agreement with you on this one!

http://www.finolablog.com/2010/03/culture-of-dog.html

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Kristen @ Motherese April 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Not rude at all. Just another chapter in the conversation!

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Amber April 20, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I completely respect people’s love for their dogs. For me, it wouldn’t work. I am not a pet person–thinking about cleaning up after an animal makes my stomach hurt. But, my daughter is an animal lover. My husband hopes she will be a vet someday! I guess that I need to suck up my hate before it gets too late. : )

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Linda at Bar Mitzvahzilla April 21, 2010 at 1:47 am

Sometimes I feel guilty about not giving my kids a dog, as they’d like. I think about the lessons they can learn in caring for an animal, in loving one. But then I think that in eight years my younger child will be off to college and my husband and I will be free! Free to travel and do anything we want – unless we have a dog. And then we won’t be free at all. We’ll have – really – the same responsibilities we had with the kids all these years except this kid never grows up and goes away.

If we were big animal lovers, where we had to have one or we would feel incomplete, it would be different, but we’re not. So instead it’s us and our other two pets – the kids!

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jen April 21, 2010 at 11:40 am

I really enjoyed reading this. When I first started reading, as a lifelong “animal person” who has 2 horses, 1 dog & 3 cats, my stomach clenched up a little, afraid of what I’d read. But you voiced your feelings so clearly and honestly, and it was extremely refreshing.

You’re right about the people who aren’t sure about having kids thing; that is exactly how I feel! I cannot imagine my life without my animals in it. Honestly, I cannot imagine my formative years without my dog and horses, because during those angsty years where I just Did Not Fit In, they were a silent loving presence that I could count on. Even now, the best source of de-stressing is just to spend time with my horse, looking into his big, peace-filled eyes, and feeling the stress melt away. I will say that I obedience trained my dog as a puppy, and he is calm, silent, well-behaved and non-stinky. But I have met enough poorly “parented” dogs to see why you (and many others) would have a different view. To have a well-behaved animal, you must parent them, and most people aren’t willing to commit to that. Thus the nasty critters you see around.
Anyway, all this rambling just to say that I’m glad a read this, and I’m glad you’re able to see a different point-of-view.

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Kristen @ Motherese April 21, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Hi Jen – Thanks so much for visiting Motherese and for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. While reading it, I was reminded once again about the ultimate similarities between human babies and animal babies: patterns of bad behavior can often be attributed to the people who are charged to care for them.

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Andrea April 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I am soooo with you on the dog thing (though I dare not say so out loud, for fear that a pack of labradoodles will be set loose to sniff my crotch until I fall to my knees begging the forgiveness of all dogophilia)!!! And the kid thing–I used to not want kids, then I had one (oops) and for no obvious reason, wanted more (and got more than I bargained for in a two-for-one deal) and, though I probably will stop while I’m ahead, I still want more. Even when they are driving my bat-sh*t crazy, I adore them and wish I had another tiny one to cuddle and sniff (maybe I am as bad as a dog, because I just can’t help sniffing baby heads). I tried to explain this attraction to a very pregnant friend who has so far only heard horror stories of motherhood, but came up pretty inarticulate.

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Kristen @ Motherese April 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

You conjure quite a visual in this comment, Andrea! :)

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Cranky Sarah April 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm

This pretty much represents how I feel about both situations, too. Imagine my delight when we discovered that our youngest (of 3) is allergic to dogs!
I’ve always classified myself as an animal lover, but not a pet lover. I’m all for humane, ethical treatment of animals, preserving natural spaces for them etc. Cleaning up their poop, vomit, hair, and getting rodent bowels as a present? Not so much.

My middle child is 4 and tells me often she’s not going to have kids because “a baby coming out from between your tushy is gross”
(yes, they know the anatomical names, THEY just prefer not using them)

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Kristen @ Motherese April 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

Thanks so much for visiting Motherese, Sarah!

I absolutely love your distinction between being an animal lover vs. a pet lover. It describes me to a T!

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Country-Fried Mama April 26, 2010 at 11:30 pm

As you know, Jana, my daughter is BEGGING for a dog in a thousand passive-aggressive ways. I have a new excuse for holding off: “We thought about getting a dog, but we decided to make you instead.” Maybe she’ll cut us some slack on the dog campaign.

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Kristen @ Motherese April 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Now that is a great line, and one I’m going to remember for the time when my kids start asking for a pet.

Thanks for visiting Motherese, Country-Fried Mama!

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Sam Amann February 7, 2013 at 1:45 am

I believe the most underrated and overlooked value is not what they bring you, but what they bring the man in your life; unwavering loyalty, and unequivocal obedience… When their master knows heat they are doing. People don’t want to be that to other people, but dogs do, and it was indeed man,.not woman, that broke the wolf, and made us our faithful protector. Yes, most are slobbering pains on the rear… But no more disproportionately than that of the masters themselves. Watch The Dog Whisperer show sometime. Caeser usually had to teach the people, not.the dog. Just like guns, dogs are not the problem… People are.

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