I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been several moments during my early parenting career at which I wondered, “What on earth were we thinking? Why didn’t we just get a puppy or something?”. Here are some reasons why buying a dog would probably have been a smarter idea than having kids just to fulfill some stupid biological imperative.
1. Buying a dog does not inherently condemn you to
months years of lost income, lost sleep and lost dignity. At worst, a healthy and somewhat pampered dog will cost you a thousand bucks or so per year to maintain, for the next 10-15 years. A healthy and not at all pampered child will cost you roughly $300,000 just to feed, clothe and keep alive for the next 18 years and beyond. Factor in the lost income and a private education and you’re easily nudging a million dollar expense. Ouch! (I haven’t even gone into the lost sleep or lost dignity – let’s just say some things are even more valuable than money, and they also are in short supply once you live with a baby or small child).
2. It is socially acceptable to put a dog on a leash for outings. Put one on a toddler and you will be judged (don’t even think about a muzzle, tempting as it may be).
3. Here is a list of things you need to take with you when you go for a walk with a dog:
- Something to collect dog poo (although more and more frequently I see dog poo bags are being provided in little dispensers at our local parks, so you might not even need to remember these)
Here is a list of things you need to take with you when you go for a walk with a small child:
- Nappies (at least three, no matter HOW short the outing is going to be)
- Baby wipes. For the love of god, baby wipes. Even if the kid is out of nappies, bring the wipes.
- Snack (nutritious)
- Drink (in child’s preferred vessel, or else)
- Hat (plus grim determination and catlike reflexes to keep hat on child’s head)
- Special blanket*
- Special teddy*
- Change of clothes for both of you, just in case
- Stroller in case child doesn’t like carrier
- Carrier in case child doesn’t like stroller
- Leash in case child is determined to ‘walk all by my own, Mummy!’ (plus nerves of steel to deflect frowns from disapproving childless onlookers)
- Bandaids in case of independent-walking-induced injury
If you forget even one of these things, it is guaranteed to be the thing that you need most urgently during your brief, precious foray into the outside world. Items marked with a * are to be checked for every five minutes, as leaving them behind and losing them would be even worse than forgetting to bring them with you in the first place.
4. If your dog is misbehaving, is dirty, or you just want a bit of peace and quiet, you can put him in a fenced area outside and leave him there for the rest of the day. Not only will you not get arrested for this, but he’ll probably enjoy it out there anyway. If he’s really playing up, you can restrain him temporarily by tying him to the clothesline. Again, nobody will bat an eyelid.
6. This is important, so listen up. You can go places WITHOUT your dog sometimes. You don’t need to arrange care for the dog unless you’ll be gone overnight. Even then, you could probably get away with just leaving some extra food out and asking the neighbour to check on him once. You can still ‘nip to the shops’, ‘go for a coffee’, or ‘see a movie’ without having to either take him with you or orchestrate dog-sitting until your return.
7. Nobody is going to start an argument with you about whether or not you should vaccinate your dog. (For the record, you should vaccinate your dog. Everyone vaccinates their dogs, don’t they?).
8. Your dog will never tell you it hates you because you’ve asked it to (for example) turn off the TV and sit up for dinner. Your dog will pretty much adore you just for waking up in the morning. That’s how dogs roll.
9. Dogs can apparently be house-trained, with quite good results. I have a five-year-old son who, although he toilet-trained himself at the age of two, still regularly wees on the floor beside the toilet and walks away satisfied with a job well done.
10. Your dog won’t occasionally spend the day speaking only in the voice of Jar Jar Binks. It’s a subtle but effective form of torture, and what makes it so perfectly infuriating is that the kid isn’t even trying to be annoying! The kid actually likes Jar Jar Binks, and
if when you eventually lose it and snap at him, he’ll be heartbroken.
And now, four not-at-all-sensible reasons I’m glad I had kids anyway:
1. No matter how clean and well-groomed your dog is, the smell of a puppy’s head will never compare to the intoxicating fragrance of a newborn baby’s head.
2. Your dog will never announce out of the blue: “Mummy. I have something to tell you. I… have fallen in love to you”. All the tail-wagging and soulful brown eyes in the world don’t come close to them apples.
3. Your dog will not bring a smile to your face daily with adorable mispronunciations.
“Boosabul fezza” (beautiful feather)
“Dis mozzie is bozzering me” (This mosquito is bothering me)
and my personal favourite, “Look at all the faaark!” (Fog. No, really. Fog).
4. Even the cleverest of dogs will not one day present you with a picture of a friendly stegosaurus, complete with eyebrows.
(I’d like to give a shout out to the hilarious Toddler Mama at Hold Me, Don’t Hold Me for this post, which was what got me thinking about the ‘dogs vs kids’ idea and reflecting on my questionable decision-making in detail. Go read! She’s a hoot!).