I am one of those people who call myself my dog’s “mom.”
Here I am, momming it up.
I call myself that because I feel like her mom. She is completely dependent on me from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. (And sometimes in the middle of the night, if she’s not feeling well.)
She expects a lot from me. I am her world. Sometimes when she needs something, I am so tired and I can’t imagine doing one more thing. Even for her. But then I see her cute face and love takes over, and moves my body to do what she needs. Even if it’s to clean up the millionth mess she’s made somewhere in the house (and after I just cleaned it!)
Sound familiar, moms?
Her cute face, expecting something.
But still I wonder what other people think of this term. Is it cringe-worthy? Is it offensive? Are they neutral and I’m the only one who feels a bit weird about it? Or do they nod their heads in recognition, like, yep, I’m a dog mom too! (If you picked the last, then you are my people and I will love you forever.)
When I’m talking to or about Lady, “mom” just rolls so easily off my tongue. But, if I’m being honest, it feels like a bit of a stretch – and perhaps even an out-and-out delusion? Since I, you know, didn’t give birth to my Siberian Husky. (But I did adopt her! But not legally? See how the mind reels.)
Sitting on mommy’s lap.
Then there’s the judgment I may get from others when I say it, the most obvious of which: since I don’t have human children, this is obviously my way of (mis)directing my maternal instincts.
All I can say about that is that I grew up wanting stuffed animals, not dolls. I was crazy for all things horse and dog. The first question I had when my husband asked me to move in with him was, “can we get a puppy?” (Spoiler alert: we did.)
So I’m not too sure this assumption applies to everyone. Sure, I am a woman with womanly feelings and all (define those however you like), and I do enjoy “babying” my dog, but it doesn’t mean what I really want is a baby. Because at my age, I’m pretty sure I don’t. And having had a dog since I was a kid, and always wanting to have a dog in my life, I’m pretty sure what I want is a dog.
My beautiful daughter, admiring a chicken.
My reticence in using the term “mom” is because I have a lot of respect for the job. (And for dads too!) Being a parent is a massive responsibility and I don’t want to use it lightly.
So should I switch to the more loathsome term (in my opinion) “owner?” I mean, I don’t own my husband, so neither do I own my dog. (But I will fight you ten ways ’til Tuesday if you try to take what’s mine! Ha!)
Riding in mommy’s car.
I have friends who have kids and friends who have dogs and friends who have kids and dogs. (And friends who have cats, but don’t have kids, etc. etc.) I’ve seen a lot of kid and animal love and I never really thought to compare the two. Comparing kinds of love just seems wrong and ultimately, pointless. Someone is going to feel marginalized. And who’s to say what kind of love is greater than another?
Love is personal.
Waiting for mommy to come home.
But I have really noticed that anybody who has a human child usually has a bit of an eye-roll reaction when they hear pet owners calling their animals their “kids.”
And boy do we pet enthusiasts love shouting our love from the rooftops!
And sometimes from our car’s bumper…
Arguably, pet people are just as passionate about their pets as parents are about their children. Their Instagram feeds are stuffed with pics of little Fluffy or Rover doing the cutest things ever. They celebrate their pet’s birthdays. They cradle and kiss their pets on the lips. They set up play dates for them.
Need I remind you that I work at a DOGGIE DAYCARE? I mean, we have doggie daycares! People from the last century wouldn’t have even believed such things would ever exist! I address our WOOF clients as “WOOF moms and dads.” It seems so natural, and yet I have to acknowledge that maybe it’s not for everyone.
At home, I say things like, “mommy doesn’t like that!” or “come to mommy!” Sometimes when I’m grouchy, “this is mommy time.” When it comes to Lady, I hear the “m” word slip out of my mouth so easily and it feels right.
Sitting on mommy’s knee.
Of course, having a dog is different than having a child. You don’t have the awesome responsibility of raising a responsible, well-adjusted adult who will leave you someday and roam the earth only with your teachings to draw from. You don’t have to save for a college fund. They never leave you.
I acknowledge there are some major differences.
But I stand on the similarities. If I’m responsible for feeding, providing medical care for, cleaning up after, loving and generally directing a living being’s entire existence myself, well – then I’m their mom. Period.
And I have an even more intense relationship with Lady because she suffers from separation anxiety. She literally goes everywhere with me.
Out with friends.
While I’m working.
On damn near every errand. (Unless it’s too hot, in which case I don’t go and I suffer without conditioner or coffee creamer like a champ.)
My husband and my vacations so far have all included the dog. We plan our lives around her. Sometimes I feel a little resentful. Sometimes I feel guilty that she’s so needy. Sometimes I feel so lucky and can’t imagine my life without her.
Mostly, I feel like a mom.
Question: Do you call yourself your dog’s mom? Or dog’s dad? Why or why not?