STFU Parents: The Parents Who Insist That Dogs Aren’t Kids

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In many ways, the internet runs on dogs and babies. Anytime something terrible happens in the world, adorable puppy videos and pictures of babies with cake-covered faces circulate online like it’s the internet’s users’ job to share the cutest, most uplifting images they can find. Having a bad day? Check out ’19 Little Babies And Their Big Ol’ Lovable Dog Friends,’ or perhaps the recently shared video ‘Dog Gently Tucks in Sleepy Baby.’ (Seriously, so freaking sweet, y’all.) To the average person, a mention of dogs and babies in the same breath (online or in real life) usually elicits “aww”s and the inevitable reach for a cell phone photo gallery to show off one “baby” or another. And considering how many people own dogs as pets now — and pamper them like human children — it’s no surprise that the dog-and-baby internet phenomenon is still booming, as “fur parents” of childbearing age increasingly have human babies of their own. Facebook and Instagram have plenty of room to accommodate infinite photos and videos of both.

Generally, this dog-baby arrangement works out for the best. Parents introduce their first “baby” (their dog) to their new baby (named something like ‘Cerulean’), and the two become fast friends and Facebook explodes with Likes. But for some people, the arrangement doesn’t always result in a constant stream of joy. For instance, Allison Benedikt’s rather harsh Slate article from last year, ‘The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don’t get a dog,’ inspired my column about the dos and don’ts of talking about pets on social media. And in October, my friend Claire Zulkey wrote a similar, if much more heartfelt, piece for Fast Company titled ‘True Confession: I Had A Baby And Now My Dog Is Driving Me Nuts.’ It’s articles like these that peel back the living room curtain to reveal a much more frenzied household than one full of sweet baby kisses and tail wags. Sometimes, people who have dogs and kids wind up finding the whole arrangement to be close to unbearable. And I’m guessing their affection for those charming dog-baby internet round-ups starts dwindling a bit, too.

It’s that mindset that has led us to today’s column, in which presumably level-headed parents have become enraged at the fact that people consider their dogs to be on the same level of difficulty, or even just the same level of love, as actual human babies. Whether it’s hearing one too many times that dogs are “starter babies” and anyone considering having a baby should get a dog first, or simply being told that having a dog is “a lot like having a baby” (or vice versa), these parents have had enough. (Or, if you’re a dog lover, e-RUFF! HAHA!) Fun fact for ya: Did you know that dogs aren’t human children, and that people who exaggerate such things may very well get punched in the face by an overly hostile parent of a human baby? It’s true.

Some people are so offended by the fact that dogs are referred to as (fur-)babies — and their owners, “mommy” and “daddy” — that they’ve penned articles about it. My friend Lindsay Cross, a previous editor of Mommyish, once wrote the post ‘Sorry, Having A Dog Is Nothing Like Parenting A Child’ out of frustration over this now-common perception that dog = fur-baby, so dog = human baby. Despite the fact that some parents get a kick out of comparing the two, such as BuzzFeed editor Mike Spohr who posted ’19 Ways Having A Dog Will Prepare You For Kids,’ there are angry dissenters whose mission is to remind everyone that just because science says the bond humans share with their dogs is quite like the bond humans share with their children, that simply isn’t the case. And even if it were the case, it’s (apparently) annoying. Almost every blog post titled something like ‘5 Bajillion Things Non-Parents Shouldn’t Say To Parents’ includes a gripe about non-parents who say “We’re thinking of having a baby, so we’re getting a puppy first,” along with a firm explanation that dogs aren’t babies, and a note that anyone who likens the two is completely delusional. Hell, even the Pope reminded people back in May that they should “have kids, not dogs,” forcing a clear distinction between the two, while also echoing the studies that show that Americans are having fewer babies and adopting more small dogs.

Here are two of the comments on that lighthearted BuzzFeed post that compares picking up dog poop to changing diapers, and the ways both dogs and kids demand attention:



Okay. But here’s the thing: No one actually thinks that having a dog is like having a baby. Walking a dog during unpleasant hours, picking up its poop, and occasionally forking over hundreds of dollars at the vet after a bad accident is kinda similar to having a baby, but everyone knows that you don’t have to put up thousands of dollars for a dog to attend college (yet). You don’t have to help a dog with its homework, teach it to use the toilet, AND nurture it to eventually navigate life as an independent being, and all of those fun-filled activities come with human children. To the parents out there who are irritated by these dog = baby claims, don’t worry! They’re just exaggerations! Jokes! If someone fully believes that having a dog is like having a baby, maybe just let that person go on thinking that way and silently move on. Call them ignorant in your head. Tell yourself they have no fucking concept of what it’s like to have an actual baby, but don’t allow yourself to get resentful, because hey, you’re the one who chose to have a baby, right? Relish the experience and stop worrying about dog vs. baby comparisons. Otherwise, how are you ever going to enjoy watching this video (current views: 7MM) that shows a dog trying to teach a baby how to jump? Think about it. But first, let’s check out some examples of parents who might be taking this whole dog/baby thing a little too far.

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