People that tell you being a pet owner is the perfect way to prepare you for having kids are lying. Sure, it has similarities—like it requires a decent level of responsibility and it’s not always easy. But really it’s like comparing a jog around the block to running a daily marathon.
We stumbled into “parenthood” with our dog, Sake, pretty haphazardly and without a lot of forethought. It started with a stray cat showing up at our house one night, some instant bonding via a can of tuna, and then some crushed dreams when my husband started having allergic sneezing fits. I convinced him it was a sign that we needed to get a dog—immediately. I had my heart set on a Boston terrier, so we went to the shelter with the intention to check out a Boston mix, but instead fell in love with a crazy spotted and striped puppy.
I quickly became an expert dog mom—meaning I bought a book from the Target dollar bin—and taught her this really awesome trick to ring a bell when she had to go pee. I was convinced she was a genius. I seriously considered teaching her to paint (Google it —people actually do that!), researched how to teach dogs to read, and developed an addiction to the Dog Whisperer. I was a bit obsessed. Luckily that stage wore off, and I became far more relaxed.
Sake pretty much epitomized the term “fur baby” for me, quelling those baby urges a bit before we were truly ready for kids. I held her constantly and also taught her to kiss me on the mouth, which was a terrible idea because she still tries to do it to unsuspecting guests. Imagine a 40-pound dog leaping up at you for a kiss. And prior to Sake, I certainly never imagined myself nerding out over the toy aisle at Pet Smart or counting down the days until I could shop for pet Halloween costumes.
Having Sake prior to our kids was a great decision, regardless of how little we actually thought it out at the time. They have a really awesome symbiotic relationship: she lets them pet her and yank on her tail in exchange for scarfing down all the food they drop on the floor. Our family is all the more kickass with her in it. We will always fondly regard her as our first “baby,” but we know it’s not exactly true. Pets are way more tolerant and easy going. But I will say, if you can’t deal with being a pet owner, it just might be a slight indicator that you should hold off a bit on the human kind if that’s something you’re considering.