Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Children Are Dogs

Janine Adams admits her children are dogs—standard poodles, in fact—and she says Kramer and Scout are “a huge part of my life.” Adams is a freelance writer who specializes in books and articles on pets and makes no apologies (except to her parents) for saying her dogs are enough in her article My Children, My Dogs:
I have dogs. I don't need kids. At least for now, they fill whatever slight maternal urges I might have. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.) I'm happy to say that I'm not alone. A survey of pet owners by the American Animal Hospital Association in 1995 revealed that 61 percent of the dog owners surveyed believe that caring for their pets fulfilled a need of parenting. The previous year, 69 percent of dog owners surveyed said they give their pets as much attention as they would to their children and 54 percent of the survey respondents said they felt an emotional dependence on their pets.
Adams points out that that raising well-behaved dogs is very similar to raising well-behaved children but with some advantages—when the dogs are really bad she can put them in a crate.

Flickr Photo by Sailing Footprints: Real to Reel (Ronn ashore)


Survivor #1 said...

Recently when I shared the news with friends that our 7-year-old springer spaniel has lymphoma, I was nonplussed to overhear a friend tell someone, "It's a big deal to them. They don't have kids." So, while we've been thinking of our dog as just a dog (albeit an extremely cute one), I guess others read it as "child substitute." Though I've learned from having a dog that we do enjoy the daily duty of raising and loving another being, and while I will miss him so much when he's gone, this still doesn't make me want to have a baby. I wonder what other assumptions all my bechilded friends have made about my childfree state (and love of dogs).

flamencokitty said...

I feel the exact same way about my cats: they're my kids. But now I wonder if people consider my cats "child substitutes?" I've always been a cat person, although we just never had cats while I was growing up. I'd be a cat person even if I had kids, and I would be just as sad if I found out they had lymphoma or some other chronic disease. When I was on-the-fence about kids, I even thought, "hmmm, I wonder how to train my cats to get used to a kid?" So again, I wasn't thinking of getting rid of the them, not even for a human kid.

Kristine said...

I love, love, love my dog, and the dozens I've fostered, but if it meant bringing more of them into the world, I'd give up this pleasure without a second thought.

So the whole "substitute" idea makes no sense to me. Not to be a jerk, but I AM doing this for selfless reasons. Everytime I turn around I'm faced with more homeless animals who need help.

I suppose if I peeked into the unwanted child world, I'd soon be taking one home with me. For now, I know I'm filling a desperate need. Even if it never extends to kids, I feel like I did something worthwhile with my home, money, time, and love.

Unknown said...

We have a dog and two cats and that truly is "enough." I've been married a year and we are just starting to come out as "childfree by choice." I am really struggling with people's reactions - the assumptions, the looks of surprise, etc, etc. I think this web site is going to be a lifesaver for me!

Meg said...

@Survivor #1 WOW, that comment would have enraged me!

My dogs are definitely my kids. I'm lucky in that my own parents think this is totally acceptable.

Jody said...

Thinking of your dog (or cat, I suppose, but I only have experience as a dog owner) as your child is a recipe for disaster. If you're lucky, your dog will live for 15 years, max. More likely, 10 or 12 years. If I knew with no doubt I would have to say goodbye to my children after only 15 years I would probably have chosen to remain childless. Dogs are dogs. Great companions, worthy of love and care. But they are not your children.

Laura S. Scott said...

Yes dogs are different than kids, and isn't that a good thing!