These days, a lot of people are choosing to have dogs before they have kids, or even to have dogs instead of ever having kids. In fact, most of my friends are dog people, pure and simple. I’m not sure if that says more about me, or more about them, but I do seem to know a lot of “childless by choice” people. And they tell me things.
Basically, what they tell me is that people who have children can say a lot of things that are incredibly annoying, and can even tip over into intrusive or offensive. Some of my friends snap back with comments of their own, while others just shake their heads wearily and back away.
So, what things do kid-centric people say that irritate the living daylights out of dog-centric people? Here are my top nine.
1. If you don’t have kids, who is going to look after you when you get old?
Having kids is no guarantee that you will be looked after in your old age. I asked Debbie (mom of Chuck, the overweight beagle) the other day at the dog park for her take on this question. Her response? “I figure that when my brother and I get old, one of his four children will drive him to the nursing home. I’ll have to take a taxi.”
Many people also feel that if they invest their money wisely, care during their old age will not be a problem. They will have saved, according to current estimates, $245,000 for every child that they did not have to raise to the age of 18. That means that Debbie’s brother, if he had chosen to be child-free, could retire with nearly a million dollars supposing he just stuffed it all in a cookie jar. If he invested it, just think of how much it could add up to earning compound interest!
2. You have not known the true meaning of love until you have had a child.
Oh, come on. Just look in a dog’s eyes, and you will know the meaning of love. Our dogs love us unconditionally. And you can probably expect that they will never try to drive you to that nursing home when you get old.
3. Dogs can be dangerous around children.
Well, if you don’t have children, this isn’t a problem, is it? And even if you did change your mind and decide to have a child later on, dogs and children have been coexisting quite comfortably for centuries.
4. Dogs are so messy!
Of course they are. They deposit hair all over the place, leave their toys on the stairs, and of course there’s the house-breaking stage. On the other hand, dogs don’t use crayons to write on your walls, they don’t spill milk and juice on your carpets, and they’re usually house-broken long before most kids are toilet trained.
5. You don’t know what you’re missing, not having kids.
Sure you do. You’re missing those four years of toilet training, several years of cleaning up milk and juice and trying to cover crayon marks on your walls, the expense of raising the destructive little creatures, and yes, that inevitable drive to the nursing home. The dog has never lived who said “Mom is getting past it; I think it might be time to think about assisted living for her.”
6. Dogs are so much work!
It’s true, dogs do need a fair bit of attention. You have to exercise them, look after their medical care, feed them regularly, and train them to make sure that they grow into responsible citizens.
And that differs from having children in what way?
7. What if something happens to you – who will take care of the dog?
Presumably, you have a network of friends and family members, other than children, who will look after your dog if something happens to you. If you haven’t appointed a guardian for your dog, please think about doing so.
8. Who will remember you after you are gone?
You will be remembered by the people who knew how good you were to the various dogs you had over your lifetime. In the absence of children, perhaps you will be remembered by the animal shelter, breed association, or rescue group that you provided for in your will.
9. Have you ever thought of adopting a child?
Maybe you have, and maybe you haven’t. Maybe it is nobody’s business but your own, and maybe you should tell all those Nosey Parkers just that.
Your Dog Is Your Family
The idea of the conventional family (Mom, Dad and 2.5) kids is as dead as the proverbial doornail. And if you choose to make a family out of just yourself, or you and a significant other, and a dog or two, or three, or more, that is your own business. You do not have to justify how you chose your family members.
You do have to protect your dog family, though, just as you would if you had children. You should provide for them in your will, appoint guardians, and make sure that they are safe when you’re not around. If you are a working dog parent, I strongly suggest equipping your home with dog alert safety warning window and door stickers that let emergency personnel know that you have dogs in your home, in case of fire or another emergency. You can get six stickers made by SecurePro Monitoring from Amazon. The list price is $14.95, but Amazon has them for just $9.95. It’s cheap peace of mind for your family of choice.
The Final Word
You don’t have to answer nosy questions or comments from people who are convinced that children are inherently better for you than dogs. Kids aren’t for everyone, and you do not have to justify why you have chosen canine companionship. If you do want to explain yourself, though, the foregoing should give you some ammunition.