How Having A Child Prepares You To Have A Dog

How Having A Child Prepares You To Have A Dog


Photo: Elizabeth Sarah Dinner

Photo: Elizabeth Sarah Dinner

Every so often I hear a couple talk about getting a dog as “practice” for having a child.

The longer I am a parent, though, the more I think it should be the other way around.

Yes, adopting a puppy means changing your schedule to that of a dependent being, and losing sleep for a while during crate training. And there are even studies which say that your average pup has the intellectual ability of an average 2-year-old, which means reasoning with the four-legged version might give a glimpse of what it is like to do the same with its two-legged counterpart.

But try leaving said 2-year-old alone for an afternoon while you run errands; or imagine feeling your own heart break because your pup had no one to sit with in the lunchroom; or think of deciding who among your relatives and friends would best raise your puppy should you die in a car wreck. It’s quickly clear where the comparison ends.

No, having a dog does not prepare you for having a child.

Having children, on the other hand, is excellent preparation for having a dog.

Riley, the Wheaten terrier, joined our family when my boys were nine and six. He was an answer to our younger one’s pleas — which included carrying a Playskool camera with him everywhere he went to take pictures of “all the dogs I love but can never have.” Like both my children (and my husband) Riley is male, and I am often asked what I was thinking, since this was my chance to even out the gender ratio around here. I guess that’s the first way that parenting prepares you for a dog. Before my children were born I thought I was meant to be the mother of a girl. By the time Riley came along, though, I’d accepted that life means taking what fate — or the delivery nurse, or the breeder who made it clear I was lucky she was allowing me to pay her for the privilege of raising this particular pup because there were other families waiting in line for a hypoallergenic purebred — hands you. READ MORE