Saturday, May 09, 2015

For the Dog Moms

As some of you might already know, I'm on the board of a dog rescue here in town. Earlier this week, we were plotting/planning for some Mother's Day posts for those in our group who go above and beyond as Dog Moms. One of our board members, mentioned that she didn't think she really "deserved" to get any recognition on on Mother's Day because she doesn't have any human children and it made me sad. Here's a person who spends a good majority of her time and money and soul caring for the dogs in her life and she doesn't think she's a mom. I call bullshit.

We could get all technical here about what actually makes a mother. What is it exactly? Growing a human? Pushing that human out of your body? Caring for another human that someone else pushed out of their body? If you really want to be stringent about the definition, you could do that, I suppose. But there are plenty of people in this world who do all of those things, yet don't provide love. They don't "MOTHER."

You'll sometimes hear someone who doesn't have human kids say, "My dog's are my children." There are people who get seriously offended by that. Some people feel that by saying that, we're somehow equating your kid with a dog and kids are just more important and your dog is stupid and eats cat shit or tries to lick its own  balls.  It's NOT the same. You're right it's not (though I saw that Instagram you had of your kid shoving mud up his nose and that was...cute). But you know what? No one's love for their dogs in any way diminishes your love for your kids. There's no reason to "rank" anyone's affection in terms of what "really matters". There's just not.  You don't have to equate a dog with a kid if you don't want to, but I think you should recognize a mother's love for what it is.

For many people, myself included and I have human kids, the love and care we give our dogs IS mothering. They're the children we choose (though sometimes, to be fair, they choose us). We have no shared DNA, but the quality, length of their lives are entirely up to us.The dog moms I know monitor their dog's health, they give them comfort and care.  They take them to the vet when they're sick, they stay up all night when their dog trembles through a thunderstorm. They talk to them. They genuinely care about whether or not their dog is happy.  Most of them would forgo their own needs if it came down to spending their money on themselves or buying medicine their dog needed. And the love, oh the love, how do you observe someone's total devotion to caring for another being and somehow sniff and think "eh, that's just not as valid as MY love." Why would you feel the need to do that? Mothering is many things and there's room for all of us.

Before I had human kids, I spent many years as a dog mom fostering over 200 dogs and puppies and my experiences gave me a huge advantage for when it came time for me to take care of tiny humans. Did it teach me everything? No, but I was already familiar with the responsibility that caring for another life entails. Puppy, don't eat that. Dude, play nice.  WHAT IS THAT THING in your ear there, buddy? Just  learning how to deal with another's health issues, feeding them, teaching them to be a social being, what it means to be a successful part of a pack (you have no idea how handy that one was when my oldest got to kindergarten). CARING about their wellbeing... Is it the same as caring for a kid? Nope. But honestly, it wasn't that big of a leap between the two for me.

Those people who don't think your dogs  can be your "kids" will say things like, "Your dog can't talk to you." "I can't crate my kid if he behaves badly." "Is your dog gonna take care of you when you get old?"   Look, we know our dogs aren't going to sit up one day and start carrying on a conversation. We know they're only going to be in our lives for 10-15 years, if we're lucky. We know there's not going to be any reciprocity when it comes time for us to be taken care of.  We love them anyway. And I would argue that loving them without the expectation of anything in return is one of the purest forms of love.

It's what "Mothers" do.

1 comment:

Tonie said...

Hell yeah, from me, my 5 human kids, and most especially the elderly diva, Princess Leia, hater of all other dogs and voted dog most likely to be trusted with a newborn, or worse a TODDLER