Pets and children are not the same thing

I love animals. Honestly, I really do. Dogs are awesome! I had one growing up and he was a part of our family. And I really don’t mind when someone refers to their pet as their ‘fur baby’, no big deal. But last week I overheard a conversation that went something like this.

Person 1: “I am so tired! Between the baby being up all night and the getting the kids ready for school this morning, I am beat. Parenting is exhausting.” Person 2 “I know what you mean, I have 2 dogs and a cat and it’s so much work. Pets are as much work as children.”

No, crazy lady, pets cannot be compared to raising children. Yes, they are a part of your family and yes, they are work. But your pet is NOTHING like a child, and here’s why:

Your pet does not need you every minute of every day. A newborn needs you in a way that consumes every move you make. You can’t go to the washroom without either taking them or making sure someone else is watching them. You can’t take a shower without arranging to do it. Also, newborns are pretty helpless. They can’t feed themselves. They need help going to sleep. They need to be held and cuddled pretty much all day. But your pet, well your pet is an animal. Animals eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired.  And you can leave them alone for five minutes without having to wonder if something terrible happened.

Your pet does not need clothing. You may choose to put clothes on your pet, but they don’t need to wear clothing. And before anyone starts arguing that their pet needs clothing, let’s take a look through history. Did dogs (or other pets) wear clothing 30 years ago? No, they did not. Did babies need clothing 30 years ago? Yup, they sure did.  They also did 100 years ago and 1000 years ago. And that aside, baby clothing can be expensive, especially when they change sizes every two months.

Your pet does not need daycare. Again, you might make the choice to put your pet in daycare, and I’m not criticizing you for it. If you want to spend your money on doggy/kitty daycare then that’s your prerogative. But children need some form of care when their parents are absent. It’s actually illegal to leave them without proper supervised care. It is not illegal to leave your dog/cat/hamster at home all day while you work.

Your pet does not need an RESP. I don’t care how brilliant your pet is; it’s not going to college or university. You aren’t setting aside money every month to ensure that they have a way to pay for their future diploma/degree. However, most parents like to think that their child has a bright future and would like to see them achieve a post-secondary education. And that shit costs a lot. Basically if you start saving while they are still in the womb, you might have enough by the time they are 18.

Your pet doesn’t ask hard questions. “Hey Mom, where do babies come from?” …“Mom, why did the dinosaurs die?”… “Mom, why is the sky up instead of down?” …“Mom, why is your name Mom and not Lom?”… “Mom, why can’t humans fly?” Meanwhile your pet is just sitting there playing with a ball of yarn or eating a treat.

Your pet does not have emotional needs. Yes people, I know your pet needs nurturing and love. But your pet does not have the emotional needs that children have. Children need an environment that encourages learning. Children need to be shown unconditional love, even when they are being little shits.  Children will grow and experience bullying and heartbreak and raging teenage hormones. Your pet will not.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with loving your pets and spending all of your money on them. I’m cool with you calling yourself a fur mommy and referring to your pets as your fur babies.  But taking care of a pet and taking care of a child is not even close to equivalent. The level of responsibility is about ten million times greater for a child.  So please stop saying that your pet is as much work as a child, because it’s just not true.

And to anyone I offended by writing this, I’m sorry…but not really.


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