Every now and then trend spotting stories like this article appears in American media trying to stir controversy and generate heated comments.
According to this article published last week, more and more young, educated women in New York are choosing dogs over kids.
Aarrrrrgggghhhh. Or rather, BHOOOWWWW WOWWWW…
As a young ( ahem!) couple who chose not to have kids and love our dog to bits, we routinely clarify that our dog is not a replacement for a child.
The article quotes supporting data ( of course!!).
‘Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women, reports the business-news site Quartz. ‘
A comment on the article succinctly sums up our ( and I suspect many others’) sentiments :
“There’s definitely some replacement happening there.” UGH! Replacement? How about DIFFERENT choice. Everything a woman does – run a business, take care of her parents, travel, get a cute pooch, ANYTHING – it is considered replacement. Cuz you know, a woman ONLY wants to have kids so she’ll replace that need/want/yearning/desire/biological pull with something else.”
We have come across, from well meaning to smug to totally clueless comments on how we might ‘think’ that our dog is a replacement for a child, but he is not, and we are deluded and we will realise it when it is too late and what is wrong with people who think a dog can replace a child, blehh blehh blehh..
My polite answer is always as follows.
“It is VERY simple. We love dogs, since we both were kids. We wanted dog forever and got him when we could. We will have more when we move out of the city. Our dream for future features multiple dogs and cats – it is super high priority. We never wanted kids and thus never had one. These two have nothing, repeat, NOTHING to do with each other. We are knowledgeable enough to understand the difference between two totally different species with totally different life-cycles. Sorry to bust your ignorant presumptions.”
I wonder where this logic of ‘replacement’ comes from. After all,people with kids routinely have dogs. My parents had two kids and dozens of cats and couple of dogs since I remember. So did most of our family friends. Majority of pet videos feature kids. And virtually every ad about a canine product features the lush golden retriever playing with a kid as the loving parents look on. What replacement are they looking for? Some hypothetical kid who died in the condom???
I think the confusion comes from what people see- the affection, the attachment, the innocence, the dependence that pets and their humans have for each other. It ‘sounds’ like a baby-parent relationship.
Why don’t we safely assume that adults know the difference between a homo-sepien and a Canis lupus: two totally different species altogether. Hell, that is an easy difference to spot. It is not like toad and frog, who require you to get in-depth of their characteristics to identify them correctly. A dog has a tail, and walks on four legs after all- HUUUUGE difference from a tiny human with two legs and no tail, no??
Just because people are called pet-parents( definitely a better term than owners, but I prefer just ‘ XYZ’s humans’ ) and cuddle with their pets to death, and love to take care of them, and some even go to ridiculous heights of pampering , doesn’t mean that they are some second-rate substitute for a baby one never wanted in the first place!!
We and many others like us- with or without kids, have made and are ready to make adjustments to our lives to accommodate pets because we love these animals and we enjoy spending time with them and feel fulfilment with them.
It is not rocket science to realise that people for thousands of years have loved their pets and vice versa, because, NEWSFLASH- every goddamn thing on this earth is not only about human beings . We are capable of loving non-humans without comparing them to ourselves. It is a beautiful and liberating expereience to love pet animals and care for them like a member of the family and be loved and cared for by them. One doesn’t have to be an animal activist living with Gorillas for a decade or a sobbing non-parent burying her face in the dog’s fur while dreaming about a cute baby to do that!!
Ask my dog who will promptly tell you that he loves his humans NOT as a replacement-canines, but for what we are. It is quite telling that the smug human beings don’t have that clarity and wisdom!!