(Or: Mothers aren’t always right)
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now, but worried about offending people.
But then I thought about it, and I don’t think those people really care about what other people think, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. So here goes!
What am I talking about?
I’m talking about…
People who have a baby and then get rid of their dog.
Here’s how it goes…
You get your cute little puppy and you bring him (or her) home and he becomes a part of your family.
At first you’re devoted to him. You buy him the best food and tonnes of toys. You post endless photos of him on Facebook and Instagram. You are obsessed by how cute he is and how much you love spending time with him. Every milestone is a wonder to you. You love to take him out and about with you and you think he’s the best thing ever.
Two pink lines. You’re pregnant! You’re going to have a baby. How wonderful! Your dog is “great practice” for a baby. You’re going to be such a fantastic mom!
Of course, you can’t do that much with him during the later stages of your pregnancy. You’re too pregnant. The dog is just going to have to wait. Still, he sits by the door, hopefully. Still, he’s overjoyed to see you every time you come home.
You’re saving up for the baby now so you’re going to have to cut down a bit on the dog. He can have the cheap dog food. And things are going to have to change. He can’t sit on the sofa any more, and that second bedroom is off limits.
And then the baby’s born. A new human! The excitement. The time and effort. The Facebook and Instagram updates.
Still, dog waits by the door and wags his tail when he sees you. But you don’t want him to lick you and definitely not the baby. He might eat the baby! And he’s not getting as much exercise any more now that you don’t have the time to take him out.
You think about it a bit. It really would be the best thing for the dog if he went to live with someone else. You just don’t have the time to walk him and give him the attention he deserves. You want to spend every minute with your new baby.
It’s sad, but the dog is going to have to go.
* * *
I’ve come across this story more times than I want to remember. Including, recently, a friend of a friend who had the same kind of dog as mine, whose dog was her “baby” before the baby was born.
Once the baby was born, she decided she didn’t have the time to devote to the dog – who was about 4 years old and previously the centre of their lives, absolutely doted on. Also, this dog was a very low maintenance sort of dog so not one that needed lots of walks or expensive food. She gave the dog away.
If you think that was an isolated incident, this happens pretty often.
Here a previous pet owner tries to defend herself about a “hilarious” post about giving away her dog to make room for more kids. (It got a fairly bad reception which she couldn’t understand so she wrote an entire blog post about it.)
I want to do a thought experiment. Replace every instance of dog in that story with “child”.
You have an older child who was previously the centre of your lives and now you’re going to have a baby.
Ask yourself if it would be okay to abandon an older child when you have a new baby. Would it be okay to love that child a bit less? Neglect it? Give it away?
And if it isn’t okay, what makes you think it’s okay to abandon a dog (or any other pet)?
To me, a dog is a member of the family. With the same permanence and status as a human. If not more, because a dog can’t knowingly get estranged or have an argument and a dog is dependent on humans for food and shelter.
When I got my dog (“adopted” him), I took on responsibility for looking after him and loving him, just like a human. Whatever happens, he is not dispensable and that responsibility for him doesn’t change. (When I split with my ex, he kept our pet and I still pay for the bills all these years later.)
My responsibility to my animals is for a lifetime.
I have tried, but I just can’t get my head around people who do this.
I don’t want to be judgemental but: If you get rid of a family member because it isn’t convenient to you… I will judge you.