Are Our Pets Our Kids? I Say Yes – Lessons Learned by JH Mae – Nov 18, 2013


CFN – About an hour into a visit with my parents last week my dog, Maggie, started staring at me. I know what she was saying: “I want to go home.”

I could see it in her pleading, Beagle face, in her wide brown eyes. No, I don’t speak “dog” and she doesn’t speak English, but we communicate all the same. Throughout the day I’ll give her kisses and hugs and coo at her, and every now and then she’ll give me a look: (“you’re taking this a little too far, don’t you think?”). I don’t care – she’s my kid.

You may have gasped at this point and said haughtily – “having a dog is not the same as having a child.” Well, of course I know that, I’m not a moron. My dog doesn’t throw tantrums and sass me – of course it’s not the same.

But there are some aspects of dog-raising that are like having a child. I am responsible for her care – feeding, watering and toileting. Well, she does that herself (whether or not I put her outside, unfortunately), but you get the idea. I taught her right from wrong (staring at me while I eat: bad. Not pooping on my rug: good); she still steals garbage, but you can’t win every battle. I praise her for good behavior, scold her for bad; take her to the doctor and get her vaccinated; make sure she’s generally happy.

And yes, I recognize the differences. As I said, I’m not loony. I don’t have to obsessively watch her cognitive development for signs of learning disabilities, or monitor her TV and Internet use. I don’t have to teach her hard life lessons, worry about who she hangs out with, or make her brush her teeth every single night. She’s too afraid of the toothbrush for that.

I just worry about her finally catching up to that woodchuck she’s been tracking for days. I don’t think even she knows what she’d do with it.

No, I don’t have human children, but I’ll wager having a dog is much better. For instance, I never have to worry that she’ll start doing drugs in the school bathroom. I’m almost required to sterilize her, so she won’t end up pregnant. She’s loyal and devoted to me even if I become a big dork, and she won’t put me in a nursing home. She’ll never ask me tough questions, like: “Where do babies come from?” or “Is there a God?” She won’t wear slutty clothes and get a belly button ring.

But parents get mad when you say your pet is your child. I’m sorry, mommies and daddies, but you guys don’t have a monopoly on unconditional love. Don’t give me that dirty, derisive look. After all, I did humor you when I said your kid was adorable, so do me this one favor and let me call myself “mom” when I talk to my dog.

The hard truth is: I’m not grownup enough to have kids. (Some parents aren’t either but that’s another conversation.) I admit the obligations of creating life and not screwing it up are just too much for me. I applaud anyone who is willing to tackle such a responsibility.

But I’m a dog person, not a kid person. Raising Maggie fulfills me just as much as I need fulfilling and I think I’ve done a pretty good job.

Oh, shoot, I don’t think I’ve fed her yet today…

shelley mae hazenJH Mae is a feature journalist and short fiction writer based in rural northern New York.

She worked for five years at a local newspaper, followed by three years as a secretary.

She recently left the office life to pursue a full-time writing career and now works in her pajamas.

To learn more about here you can visit her website by clicking HERE




  1. Jamie pets are better than kids where they do not hurt you in any way but show their love and loyalty for the rest of their lives. They do not talk back to you and sometimes it is best that we do not know. LOL LOL. I love animals dearly. Today with our meal we had a salad and I always take the stump off to give that to the squirrels so I have that ready for them. I love the beagle dogs as well and give her a kiss and a hug from me too. At least you know where Maggie and your other dogs are at all times.

  2. Great photo!
    It looks like you pulled Maggie out of a pocker game – when she was winning.

  3. The more I know people, the more I love my dogs! Our pets love us with all their hearts and will remain faithful to us for the rest of their lives.

  4. Yup. I keep a small herd of cattle, a horse, some chickens and two cats. They are all individuals and part of the family.

  5. The very best friend that one can have is the love of a good dog. No human being on earth can be as honest and loving as a dog. I love dogs so much. About a week ago my husband and I were walking in the park and there was this cute little dog part chichitzu and part Scottish something in it but that little dog saw us and could sense that we liked him and he bent down to lie on the ground looking up at us for us to pat him. He got up and greeted us. Jamie you are so very lucky and I was thinking about you earlier how lucky you are to have such great company. Your dogs do not demand anything of you except your presence and of course their daily intake of food and water and a walk.

  6. Furtz you too are lucky as well as others here. You have a farm Furtz and that is the life. I greeted sparrows in a tree today while with my daughter and they looked happy since the homeowner on the corner has a lot of bird houses and bird feeders and he feeds them all the time. I give some food to the squirrels and birds when I can especially in the winter. I love to watch the wild creatures how they live. I take them over most people. Furtz you are lucky to live on a farm – that is a healthy life.

  7. I am glad Mae that you recognize that at least at this stage of your life you are not ready for the responsibilities and demands of parenthood. You may never be, parenthood is not for everyone. Unfortunately far to many take on the role without the necessary skills, love is not enough.

    The sad reality is that as a society we offer more protection for our pets than our children, the enforcement of our laws establishes this to be true. The stories of mistreated pets go front page and the baby thrown into a dumpster at birth gets buried elsewhere. Go figure how man’s inhumanity to man has a history of repeating itself.

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