You’re A Dog Parent Whether You Admit It Or Not

Another day, another rant on the Huffington Post from a drama-seeking blogger mommy who says,

Stop calling your dog your kid. You don’t change diapers. You’re not a parent until a melon-headed baby tears out of your uterus.

No need to link to any of these awful proclamations. We’ve all seen them. People who loved their dogs so much, called them their babies… until their “real” babies came along. Now they know real love, and anyone who claims to be a parent to an animal is devaluing their relationship with their children.

That argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

People who are against gay marriage state the same claim: that recognizing a same-sex couple’s lifelong love somehow negatively affects “traditional” couples. This attitude is nonsensical, and downright hateful.

Now, back to dogs: if you’re irked by the fact that some people call their dogs “fur-kids” or “furbabies” or any variant… you’re going to have to accept the fact that you’re just another dog parent.

Are you a dog parent? Of course you are. Here is your fur baby.

It’s a girl!

Why Dog “Owners” Are Actually Parents

Wolves and wild dogs live in packs. The leader of the pack is traditionally called the alpha. In old-school style dog training, people falsely believed that in order to be the almighty alpha-leader, you had to be abusive towards your dog. They thought that wild alphas would intimidate and attack their lower-ranking pack members to assert dominance.

Old-school trainers used to force dogs onto their backs, the “alpha roll,” believing that a dog who misbehaved simply needed leadership from an alpha.

Now, we know that alpha wolves do not assert their position by attacking other wolves. Not at all.

A wolf pack is actually a mommy, a daddy and their pups.

Alpha wolves lead their puppies because they are their parents. Contrary to popular belief, mama wolves do not bite their pups around the neck to punish them. Papa wolves do not force their pups onto their backs to gain “respect.”

A pack leader is simply a parent, someone who:

  • Feeds their pups by producing milk or regurgitating… or going to the store
  • Washes their pups by licking them… or with soap and water in the tub
  • Cleans up poop and pee by eating it… or using a mop
  • Snuggles with the pups, making them feel safe and warm
  • Teaches their pups to hunt… or fetch a ball

Most dog owners do all of these things.

So, by human standards, you might not be a parent. Even though sharing genes is not a requirement to be a parent. Nor is verbal communication. Or bagged lunches. Or school plays.

By dog standards, you’re doing everything a parent does. So, you are a parent to your dog. Whether you like it or not. Whether you admit it or not.

Even if you look your dog square in the eye and say,

Tessa, darling, you’re a very special dog, but remember, I’m your owner, not your parent.

That stings.

If you’re a dog parent who rejects your dog as your child, then, it might make more sense if you’re the one to be judged.

But true dog parents who have accepted the title won’t waste the energy to do so. Because the love of a dog-baby softens you in a way that leaves no urge to judge others.

So, pretend you’re not your dog’s parent. The rest of us quietly know better.

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