Pets & Parenthood

On Tuesday, for inexplicable reasons, our Guest Blog discussion took an unusual turn into the realm of pets vs. children. Quite a fascinating detour. Pet owners argued that pets are as important as kids. Parents (some with both pets and children) argued that if you have children, there is no comparison. I have three kids, three pets, and abiding affection for children and animals; I once supervised a childless employee with two dogs whom I regularly allowed to go home early to care for his pets. I can see passion and merit on both sides of the argument.

So I wanted to continue the discussion by asking a few more questions.

What do American pet-owners and parents have in common? What role do pets play in a balanced life? How are today's Americans different from citizens in other countries or our ancestors in terms of devotion to pets and children? Are Americans somehow better nurturers, superior protectors of the helpless, more loving and affectionate? Do we love our children and our pets so deeply because we don't need to worry as much as our predecessors about daily survival? Or am I just over-thinking this?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 17, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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You have GOT to be kidding me. Pets are not as important as children, not even close. Talk about misplaced maternal yearnings.

Posted by: Unreal | November 17, 2006 7:41 AM

I remember my mother telling me years ago how her feelings about her cherished cat changed once she had babies. She still loved and doted on him, but the babies took priority. Now that we human kids are grown up, she has another cat whom she dotes on even more than the first. He satisfies her need to love and care for another creature, and he "takes care of her" by loving her back.

My husband and I love and adore our cats and are sad to think of the day when they will no longer be with us -- but we understand that when babies come, they have to take priority (and I'm sure our feelings will change accordingly). Pets depend on us, but babies depend on us even more. There's love enough for all, but the attention goes first to those who need it most.

Of course, we have the luxury of being able to care for all these critters. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to have compassion for other living creatures -- human and non-.

Posted by: CatMom | November 17, 2006 7:44 AM

I agree with you, CatMom.

When you have pets in the house, but no kids, the pets become incredibly important. But kids always take precedence. My husband and I had one beloved cat who used to watch tv with me late into the the long sleepless nights before my first son was born. After my son arrived, I didn't have time to pet our cat for about six months. Fortunately he is still with us ten years later and I can pay a little more attention to him now.

Having pets is great companionship for people without kids or whose kids are grown. I also think that having pets is wonderful for children. We have two cats and a big shepherd/lab mix. A friend convinced us to get the dog by saying, "Every childhood should include a dog."

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 7:57 AM

I struggle with this one, I really do. We had a dog that we just adored, but had to ultimately give him to another family because my daughter was diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma. (The top allergen for her was dog dander.) I cried literally for hours after I watched him drive away -- longer than I ever cried at one stretch for any person I've known who's died. I still miss him and his doggie ways very much, but my daughter is much healthier.

During the time when we were looking for a new home for our dog, I cannot tell you how many friends and co-workers came up to me to tell me about great medicines my daughter could be given that would help control the allergies and asmtha and let us keep our dog. One woman became quite upset and accused me that I was allowing one member of our family to benefit at another's expense. I had no words for this. Still don't. I adored my dog, but there was no choice when it came down to it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 17, 2006 8:02 AM

LOL. I just reread what I wrote, and I should have written that my dog "was driven away". He was an extraordinary dog, but he never did learn to drive. (Slacker.)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 17, 2006 8:03 AM

Comparing humans and animals (pets) is like comparing salad to cheesecake. You can love both of them but in very different ways. We always had pets when I was a kid. I think they are a great way to teach children responsibility, undonditional love and loss as long as the pet is appropriate to the child and their age. Pets (especially dogs) can give a single parent a sense of security/safety. If I hear a noise at night and my dog doesn't move I tend not to worry about it.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 17, 2006 8:05 AM

I don't need pets, I have 4 children!

Posted by: Husband of Many Years | November 17, 2006 8:05 AM

I inheretted a cat (not by choice) and disliked having her the whole time (about 2 years). I had a daughter a few months ago and love love LOVE her. She is totally amazing.

so there you go

Posted by: f01 | November 17, 2006 8:06 AM

When we got our dog two years ago a friend said, "Now I know you're done having kids." She was right.

Also love the security of having a dog with a big bark.

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 8:15 AM

I'm a Father of four (humans) and I've never understood the anthropormorphic relationships that some people have with their pets. I've also been around animals (large and small) all my life. I've always felt that those that have human like relationships with animals are somehow intimidated by having similar types of relationships with people. Pets are easy to love aren't they? They never talk back or fight with us or tell us they hate us or get disappointed with us. I also feel that we, as humans, do crave that nurturing experience, thus if we can't or won't fulfill that need with humans we will do so with something else whether it be a pet, pet rock, or other object of affection. Not unlike a little girl playing doll, no? Once a person has developed this nurturing relationship with a non-human, I also think it's natural for them to rationalize the relative importance of that relationship compared with the traditional parent-child model. Thus, I have no doubt that in their mind, the relationship with their pet is just as important as my relationship to my children. If pressed, however, I think that most (though certainly not all) extreme pet lovers would acknowledge the greater intrinsic value in inter-personal relationships.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 8:16 AM

"Are Americans somehow better nurturers, superior protectors of the helpless, more loving and affectionate?"

A) on its face this is an absurd question - seriously, stop and think about our culture and laugh at what you wrote.

B) Pets are only "helpless" because we've bred them to be that way. We are self serving creatures who thrive on the power that dominating other animals brings, and the false sense of "love" we think they provide.

Posted by: Bless America | November 17, 2006 8:20 AM

I had a cat for 17 years that I loved beyond words. She died when my first son was about 7 months. In a way, it was almost better that she did die then because I wasn't able to give her all the attention that she was used to. Once my son was born, he took priority over her. We got a new cat a few months later and while she's a very good kitty (super tolerant of two boys) I'll never love her the way I did with my first cat.

I can completely understand why people lover their pets so much. People need SOMETHING to love and it doesn't matter if it's a child or a pet, the love is still there.

Posted by: maija | November 17, 2006 8:21 AM

AHHHH - the pet dicussion again. I recall the original disagreement was between WAMC and Emily (I think?). WAMC was explaining how her brother w/kids got preferential treatment during the holidays when they visit her parents - she brought up her dogs as a side note and it exploded from there.

I won't diminish anyone's love for their animals - we had a family dog growing up that we still can not talk about without getting emtional - and that was 18 years ago. My grandfather got a dog after my grandmother died (she was a mean old thing - the dog I mean) but he loved her. He had kids and grandkids, but his dog was his pride and joy. The dog got hit by a car when she was 12 and my grandfather died a year later - with a broken heart.

Of course my kids come first. I do love my animals though. If someone doesn't have kids and their animals are "their kids" - they have deep, strong love for their animals. It serves no purpose preaching about how superior my kids (or humans in general) are to their dogs. I expect the same consideration from non-children people.

I completely agree with the following: "The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to have compassion for other living creatures -- human and non-." by Catmom.


Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 8:21 AM

To An Dliodoir: I am a dog owner. I have many wonderful long-term and close interpersonal relationships. I am very well able to distinguish the difference between the relationship with my dog and other people. Most of my friends have pets - they an adjunct to our relationships and lives not in lieu of.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 17, 2006 8:22 AM

It doesn't have to be a "pets vs. kids thing." A couple of smart rules:
1. If you're planning to have kids- think long and hard about whether/when to get a pet. Huge numbers of pets are given up in this country to shelters and end up euthanized because someone had a kid, and then didn't have time for them. As someone who's been involved in rescue, I beg you to be responsible! Consider waiting until you have the children and have gotten used to the new situation before you adopt a pet.
2. Be very thoughtful about what kind of pet you're going to get if you already have kids. Yes, pets can help teach kids responsibility, but kids are completely unequipped to be the final responsive party for a pet. That must fall on the adult of the household, though kids can and should be encouraged to feed, walk, change litter, play and give affection to pets along with parents.
3.Children don't just "naturally" know how to appropriately interact with pets, and must be supervised! They are often loud and very rough with pets, and that is why they get bitten more than adults.
4. Puppies and kittens are usually not the best idea with young children- aim for older, calmer pets.

Let's stop arguing about which is better and start helping all of us to have a little more balance in our lives!

Posted by: Baltimore | November 17, 2006 8:25 AM

Based on my own experience I have to agree with An Dliodoir. I used to have several cats and a couple of dogs, I'd give a home to anything that needed one. But after some good counseling and some work getting my issues in order I suddenly didn't have the "animal" need. Now I'm happily married with 3 kids with family and friends abound and now don't even have room for pets. Maybe I'll consider it again, in moderation, once the kids are grown.

Posted by: Still dealing with my issues | November 17, 2006 8:37 AM

"They never talk back or fight with us or tell us they hate us or get disappointed with us."

I can only assume that you haven't spent much time around cats! But from a devil's advocate standpoint, wouldn't that statement apply just as well to a 2 month old infant?

Posted by: Kate | November 17, 2006 8:42 AM

Five years ago we got a puppy. We doted on her. She ruled our house. Then we had a baby, about a year ago. For my poor dog, everything changed. Our priorities changed. We dote on the baby, and the dog, I have to say, gets a lot less affection and attention from us. It's a source of constant guilt on our parts, and if I had to do it over again, I would never have gotten our dog.

Posted by: chicagomom | November 17, 2006 8:44 AM

I agree with a lot of what is being said and it doesn't seem that it should be kids vs. pets at all. No one can argue that pets will be a higher priority for a parent. If you do not have children however, and do not plan to at least for a while, a pet can easily fulfill that need to nurture. We recently adopted a retired racing greyhound and have enjoyed having her more than words can say, but she would never hold a candle to our own children. I think having pets is a very theraputic experience for many people and can reduce stress rather than increase it as children sometimes do. Our dog not only provides a good laugh every day but she also is a good companion when my husband works late. Until there are diapers there will be a dog.

Posted by: Newly Married in Maryland | November 17, 2006 8:47 AM

"Are Americans somehow better nurturers, superior protectors of the helpless, more loving and affectionate? Do we love our children and our pets so deeply because we don't need to worry as much as our predecessors about daily survival? Or am I just over-thinking this?"

Americans are more materialistic and shower their children and pets with more toys and comforts. I doubt they love their children anymore than people the world over. This blog seems to show that even with material comfort, people still find enough reasons to worry. And the competitive buying to outdo the neighbors creates more, not less, stress.

The treatment of pets (or animals)seems subject to cultural differences (the recent dog crisis in China illustrates a changing culture and importance of the internet in this change).

We had an assortment of pets when we were growing up - including crows and pigeons as well as cats and dogs. All my siblings have always had pets as well as kiddos.

My husband and I jokingly say that the pet wars, Mommy wars, the "I'm more professional than you are" wars started with the "baby on board" signs of the 1980s...the great shot fired at the car behind saying "my cargo's more important than your cargo".

Posted by: footloose and childfree | November 17, 2006 8:47 AM

Well, of course, children are more important that pets. Let's not be ridiculous. Having said that, give me a good dog any old day over a kid.

Posted by: Gary Russell | November 17, 2006 8:48 AM

Hi Baltimore -- Does it really feel like we are arguing? Seems like a discussion (so far at least).

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 8:49 AM

I'm a widow and an empty nester. I loved being a wife and mother. Now I am a mother to 3 orange tabbies. Do I love those little guys to pieces? You betcha! Do I love them more than my human children. No! I love my cats in a different way. Being a pet owner allows me to continue the daily and very strong, profound feelings of maternal love that improve the quality of my life. Pets are the great humanizers. My kids are great pet lovers also and have four-legged little ones running about their houses. My motto is Love me, love my pets!

Posted by: DZ | November 17, 2006 8:50 AM

Animals (pets or no) are other "tribes" of life on the planet. And just as it's important for a child to realize that all life doesn't center on them, it's valuable for anyone to realize that all life doesn't center on human beings, either. (Yeah, yeah, I'm still a conservative Christian, attend church every Sunday.) I think having animals in the household (just like, say, visiting a wildlife refuge) can create awareness and empathy for other creatures. I love my kids. I also love my cats and dogs--they show me other ways to experience the world.

Posted by: Sophie | November 17, 2006 8:51 AM

Kate,
I have been around quite a few cats and no, none of them ever told me they hated me or communicated verbally any other sentiment. Ok, I admit that animals can get upset, but certainly not in the same way a human does. An animal's displeasure is situational, superficial, and easily overcome or quickly forgotten. Not so with humans. This discussion sets us on the path of comparing the value of humans and animals. We know that there are some who feel humans and animals are equally worthwhile, whereas there are those (myself included) who place greater value on human life and relationships. I don't expect to change any body's mind but I do suggest that those who argue that animals are equally valuable as humans are either distoring the criteria of evaluation or adopt their view as an affectation.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 8:51 AM

Baltimore, you make some EXCELLENT points. In my own experience, a lot of the heat surrounding this whole pets/kids divide is generated in response to people who've been irresponsible. For example, many of the people I've seen who've been really strident about valuing pets are those who've witnessed firsthand cavalier, irresponsible treatment of pets. If you get involved in animal rescue work, you'll see how heartbreaking it is when a couple gets a pet on a whim, later has a child, decides that the pet is now too much trouble, and wants to just dump it somewhere. To say that that's not right is not to equate animals with humans, but folks who have to deal with that scenario over and over again understandably (I think) get a little testy about treating living creatures like inanimate accessories.

Posted by: TC | November 17, 2006 8:52 AM

The two are not mutually exclusive. You can love both equally. OBVIOUSLY, if you have a crying, sick, or whatever infant, the baby takes precedence. But, anyone who does not think you cannot love both equally is simply not a pet person. Period. And, that is fine.
All I ask of those people is PLEASE do not then get a pet in the first place. . . I do animal rescue and one of the top reasons we get for people unloading their animals on us is their kids. "We have a baby and not enough time for the dog" and a variety of other excuses. (sorry, to me they are excuses. You don't take responsibility for a life and then get rid of it when no longer convenient. That is just my opinion.)

I grew up with pets (lots of them). We have two dogs and two cats now who I love dearly. They are my family and nothing anyone says or does (on this board or otherwise) will change that. I am pregnant now and and am thrilled for my child to have the relationship with our pets that I had with mine as a child (and throughout my life). It was incredibly emotionally fulfilling and it taught me responisiblity (in cleaning out the litter box, feeding them, etc.) and also to have compassion, empathy, and love for all creatures great and small. I am very much looking forward to my child having that.

There is nothing short of my pet showing unprovoked, untrainable agression toward my child OR extreme, untreatable medical reactions to the pets (I mean extreme, not "regular" allergies which are treatable; my sister is proof of that) that would cause me to get rid of my pets or that would prevent me from adopting pets in the future. The fact is, most other problem behaviors that parents identify with their pets can be treated, trained or modified. I've seen it. I've done it. You just have to want to do it.

NOTE: And, lest I be labeled as "not putting people before pets", I reiterate. You can do both. I also volunteer with people and will also pass that on to my child. And, I believe my compassion for those in need started and was learned from having compassion for animals.

Sorry if I sound defensive. But, this is an issue close to me and one I've had to defend myself regarding MANY times. Needlessly so in my view since I strongly believe that -as I stated above - you can love both if you really want to.


Posted by: JS | November 17, 2006 8:54 AM

"I completely agree with the following: "The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to have compassion for other living creatures -- human and non-." by Catmom."

The argument that degree of comfort correlates with ease of feeling compassion - depending on your defintion of comfort - flies in the face of the experience of many early Native American, African and other peoples, who hold and adhere to a far more holistic and compassionate worldview than "comfortable" modern Americans.

Posted by: Bless America | November 17, 2006 8:58 AM

Got to say probably love my dogs as much as any human! Love and spoil them to pieces.

Posted by: Dog Lover | November 17, 2006 8:59 AM

You say "I grew up with pets (lots of them). We have two dogs and two cats now who I love dearly. They are my family and nothing anyone says or does (on this board or otherwise) will change that. I am pregnant now and and am thrilled for my child to have the relationship with our pets that I had with mine as a child (and throughout my life)."

Nothing can chance that, right? What if one of your dogs attacks the baby?

Posted by: To JS | November 17, 2006 8:59 AM

"Every childhood should have a dog in it."

Crap, it is too early in the morning to feel guilty! My neighbor has two dogs which are cute, but she doesn't walk them -- just lets them in the back yard--and they yap constantly. I am thinking some antifreeze would quiet things down, but I don't know how I would get her to drink it!! (kidding). My kids would like a dog, off and on. We have a cat that we also inherited, but she is great. I love her, even when she spews a hairball all over the clean laundry (o.k.--I love her, just LESS). She is the most affectionate cat--people alway comment on it. When she is not longer with us I will miss her, but not like I would miss my kids. The dog I had growning up I still think about, but it is still not a kid (and we got that dog on Christmas day, a puppy , and my dad used to take her to get ice cream--and feed it to her! She probably died from heart disease!).

Posted by: jane | November 17, 2006 8:59 AM

Newly Married in MD said:
"If you do not have children however, and do not plan to at least for a while, a pet can easily fulfill that need to nurture. We recently adopted a retired racing greyhound and have enjoyed having her more than words can say, but she would never hold a candle to our own children. I think having pets is a very theraputic experience for many people and can reduce stress rather than increase it as children sometimes do... Until there are diapers there will be a dog."

So does this mean that when you have kids you'll abandon your dog, or that her quality of life will diminish considerably? People *can* continue to give their pets good lives after they have the children, but this doesn't sound like that. Not to pick on one person, because there are lots of folks out there with similar views. But really! if you're gonna give up your dog/cat when you have kids, and they're just a "placeholder"- then don't get a pet! It's not because pets must be treated like humans- it's because when you throw that pet away, it becomes a social cost everyone has to pay!

Posted by: frustrating! | November 17, 2006 9:00 AM

we have 2 dogs and in a few months will have a baby.
I don't see my feelings changing for my dogs, I do love them dearly and will continue to. But I love them for what they are, dogs. My baby is put first and loved above all else, but I have always loved dogs for the wonderful animals they are.
I don't think americans are in any way superior, but we do tend to have a higher standard of living than many other countries. Disposable income is what allows people to care for pets--they are a luxury.

Posted by: practical dog lover | November 17, 2006 9:01 AM

Seriously? Kids vs. Pets? Dumb topic.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 17, 2006 9:02 AM

Unreal has no idea what he or she is talking about. Pets are much more loving and important than children. Children grow up to be jerk adults or worse yet - Republicans who dont care about anything but themselves. Pets are always loving and dont harm the planet like people do. It should be illegal for anybody, especially Republicans, to continue breeding.

Posted by: Kevin Dunne | November 17, 2006 9:03 AM

I grew up with a mother who tried to save every stray she could. The people in our town would call her and she'd go get the animal feed it and find a home for it. While I love animals, when I was growing up this was a constant source of embarrassment for me, even though I brought animals home myself. Some people made fun of us and called our house the "Scarry home for lost animals." Now, looking back on it, my mother was kind and generous and I am so glad that she brought me up to be responsible, caring and kind to all things, not just people.

She still has cats and dogs, and to be honest, I think she sometimes loves them, more if not as much, as me and my siblings. That's not to say that if the house was burning down and she had to choose to save me or the dog that she would choose the dog.

I don't think that love for animals and children are the same if you have children. I know I love my daughter more than I love animals, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't care for them. However, I do think it is up to each person to define the importance of love in their life, so if you love animals more than kids are vice versa, good for you!

I do have to say though that one thing that really makes me mad is when someone has a pet for a long time and then they get rid of it because they get married or have a baby. I could never do that, unless someone was severely allergic and then I don't think I could just hand it over to Pet Smart. I probably have to take it back to the Scarry home for lost animals.

Posted by: scarry | November 17, 2006 9:07 AM

1. Having been to 70 or so countries, from what I've seen, it's very true that in most parts of the world, owning an animal as a pet (versus dinner) is a luxury. Your own paper did an article earlier this week about the proliferation of dog/pet ownership in China. It's something that we can do b/c we have the leisure time, space, money, etc. (Not to mention culture, health...) Yet another reason to feel blessed to be an American.

2) We're cutting short our honeymoon b/c we don't want to leave our dog for too long. I've stayed home from work b/c our dog was sick and needed to go to the doctor or have supervision throughout the day. We shape our schedules around walking our dog, will choose to eat in on nights when we think our dog needs "quality time" with us (and we need it with him), get him birthday and xmas gifts, etc. He IS our child... and when we have a human one in the next year or so, we look forward to adding to our family.

The other gentleman says that he can't understand our "anthropomorphic" attraction to animals... well, I can't understand someone who can't understand the love and affection that you get from a dog who's completely devoted to (and reliant on) you. He's a joy in our lives and it's too bad that not everyone has that pleasure.

Posted by: hurricanewarningdc | November 17, 2006 9:10 AM

We have three pets -- a 12-year-old "rescued" cat and two Betta fish. Well, it may be one Betta fish soon; one is acting sick. My son has been asking for a dog for years, but I don't have the time to walk, wash and clean up after one right now. A couple of weeks ago, we found out my son is allergic to dogs and cats. I'm allergic to cats too, but when I found out I was, I chose to keep the old girl. Our medication, and keeping her in the basement mostly, keeps down allergy symptoms.

I satisfy my son's dog craving for now by taking him to a local pet store and letting him play with a few of the puppies. The people who work there are very tolerant of folks who come in to show the animals affection and then leave without buying them. At some point, I'd like for us to volunteer to walk some dogs at a shelter.

When my son is older, if he decides he can take the allergy shots, then we can revisit the dog issue.

Where I hypocritically draw the line is rodent pets. I had gerbils and hamsters when I was a child, but today as a mom, I can't stand the smell, the getting loose, etc. Luckily my kids haven't begged for one of these.

All that said, yes, the kids come first. My cat has had to adjust to my marriage, the birth of my kids, and the addition of another cat for a couple of years (he died). She has adjusted.


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 17, 2006 9:11 AM

Conversations like this make me uneasy, because people tend to get this attitude that pets (or animals in general) are less important as beings and living things of this earth. Especially when kids enter the picture. Really, though, who are we to decide that they're less important? Because they don't have the ability to reason or opposable thumbs like we do?

Sure, priorities change, but it infuriates me when I hear that when people simply "get rid of a pet" because they now have a kid, or some absurd instances, where the pet didn't match the furniture. (No lie.)

I think the ability to become a pet owner is too easy. But, I also believe that the ability to have kids is as well. Same goes for getting a driver's license, too. (Some pet peeves--ha!)

It boils down to this: people forget that we belong to the earth. The earth doesn't belong to us. Whatever made us decide that we're "better" or "smarter" than any other being on this earth I believe is making us regress as a society and species.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 9:16 AM

Everyone makes a point of the fact that kids are a priority b/c pets adjust get less attention than the new baby...
But kid #1 is generally forced to adjust to the arrival of kid #2 ... it doesn't mean you love kid #1 - details of the situation simply change.

This is unusual and more extreme - but on the dog attack front - aren't there also occasionally questions for how parents deal with an older child (I imagine) a teenager whose presence is a danger to a younger one. This unusual instance does not prove that kids are easily expendable.

Love is not some sort of measurable, finite quantity...

Posted by: small point | November 17, 2006 9:21 AM

Sophie - Well said!

Bless America - I am still trying to decipher what you posted.

Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 9:23 AM

I have to say that I consider our two dogs my "babies" now that my daughter has gotten older (10 years old). And they will remain babies while my daughter will not. They do give unconditional love and loyalty.

That said, of course my child comes first and always will.

Posted by: librarianmom | November 17, 2006 9:25 AM

I have always had dogs and cats, and have two kids at home too. I also do dog rescue for one of the purebred Clubs. The comfort we enjoy in North America certainly makes it easier to acquire animals, but we also are the first to abandon them when they become inconvenient; NA shelters are much more overpopulated than those in Europe or the East. Animals are either treated as children or as accessories, and not as the dignified creatures they are in themselves, with respect for their abilities and needs.

There is a place for the love we feel for animals, even though not qualitatively the same as that we have for our human loves. Quantitatively, though, I'd say I love both equally.

Besides, my kids never offered to pull a cart in the Christmas parade as the Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy doing!

Posted by: Grimm | November 17, 2006 9:26 AM

cmac:

Translation: people who are less comfortable than you do not have to try harder to be compassionate to others. Arguments to the contrary fail when compared to the experience of billions of uncomfortable folks.

Posted by: Bless America | November 17, 2006 9:27 AM

To RYOK - We're superior because are higher on the food chain.....

Posted by: HUH? | November 17, 2006 9:34 AM

Isn't this argument similar to the circle of life? When you get married, you think you can't love anyone more than your spouse until that little baby comes into your life. When you have two kids, does it mean that you love your newer one more than your first-born or even your spouse?

It's about balance and making things work, along with responsibility. We have a 7-year old and include in him family decisions, one of which was to get a puppy last holiday season. As adults and head of the household, we chose to include a puppy in our life, knowing full well that our son wouldn't always be responsible for her (i.e. we would take her out for walks, feed her, etc.) We include her in every family event we can, including creating special events to include all family members (e.g. a trip to the dog park). We are now expecting our second child in April and our dog has been involved in all changes; she knows something is going on is quite protective of me and the baby I'm carrying. She too, will welcome the baby when we bring him/her home. All will adjust, just as every family does.

I firmly believe there are pet people and there are non-pet people. Life is about a balance, not choosing one over the other. You don't choose your kids over your spouse and you don't choose your pets over kids or vice versa. Thinking things through and planning ahead seems to be where families fall apart.

Posted by: Hanna | November 17, 2006 9:35 AM

Wow. I really see this as a black-and-white issue.

Pets who bite (or try to bite) kids have to go. It isn't worth a second of guilt. I'm sorry- but animals are not people.

Take, for example, my younger sister. When she was five she almost lost an eye, because she went to play at a friend's house, and that family had an insecure sheltie.

I think both my sister and the dog were acting "normally." My sister's offense was to pet the dog while he was eating. The dog, apparently, had a history of snapping at people in various situations that household members all knew about.

Anyway, I see this is an accident waiting to happen, that happened. Had they been responsible, the owners would have found a nice old lady to dote on their pet the minute it looked like there might be a problem.

Posted by: Silver Spring | November 17, 2006 9:35 AM

To HUH?:

And who determined that?

Humans!

So that gives us the right to rape, pillage and abuse, right?

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 9:36 AM


The 'every childhood should have a pet' meme also came up in an earlier discussion here on 10/12 ("The Meaningless Child Care Debate"). We were discussing ways we try to model kindness, thoughtfulness, and happiness for our children. I mentioned several behaviors I strive for, and as a throwaway mentioned the two ways I wish I could do better for my kids, but that I've unfortunately traded off to keep balance in our full lives --- and those are a cleaner less strewn-about house, day to day, to live in; and a dog, which my kids have long lobbied for. I got comments about how I should really get a dog, ways I might find a dog, and how denying them a dog would leave a void in their lives that they would always resent (it's a blog, par for the course :-) )

An interesting question is the lifestyle compromises necessary to add a pet into your family and give your kids that experience. I've seen experiences of several families in my online moms' group (about 100 moms of 9yos): a few have been absolutely frazzled having to cope with needy and chaos-creating puppies, often bought for the family by impulsive DHs. One is the most nurturing and willing-to-overextend person I know, but eventually she did have to find relatives to care for the dog, the sleeplessness and chaos was just too much for her on top of managing her kids, and of course the responsibility fell to her, a SAH mom. Another soon divorced the DH (the thoughtless dog gift was typical but the tip of the iceberg) but is still stuck with the dog --- when I asked why the dog can't live at the ex's house, who bought him, it's apparently unconscionable to have a dog in a home when the humans are away at work all day. Now I'm aware that this varies by breed and definitely by dog age, but also many in our group who *are* committed and experienced pet lovers are turned down by pet rescue places and have to buy their dog at a pet store or breeder, because the animal rescue places won't accept families with their age/number of kids and/or both parents WOH as suitable pet owners . . . All in all I've been given the impression that having a dog in the family has almost a prerequisite of having a SAH parent to give the dog attention during the day --- and then the dog bonds primarily to the SAH parent, not the kids. I'm asking more than saying, because in my childhood (maybe just because I was oblivious to adult responsibility, and I never had a pet) dogs never seemed such a huge imposition, I often thought of them as a man's pet, and men weren't staying home all day and reconfiguring their lives to make time for a dog . . .

Anyway, it came late in that discussion, but here was my reply on all the questions about why we think we'd be overextending to get a dog, as our kids would like. I'm open to reasonable input as to whether I'm misjudging the commitment/lifestyle change required . . .

quote:

Oops, I got busy and missed the interest in my dog comment.

Actually, after years of cajoling, my oldest is starting to come around to my perspective on the dog (largely due to her reading of books about how to choose your dog, being a pet owner, etc). That we can't really care for a dog without all of us - not just the parents - making some lifestyle changes.

During the school year, with early evening activities (soccer practice, piano/music, gymnastics), we are all out of the house by 7:45 am and rarely in it again for more than 2 hours before 9pm bedtime. And that time is busy with changing for soccer, piano practice, snacks, bathtimes, sometimes homework, sometimes dinner. Even during the half of the school year which is not soccer season, the most we could be home some weeknights would be 3.5 hours, including dinner, dinner prep and cleanup, bath, etc, etc. That is not really a fair amount of attention, I think, even for an adult dog.

The girls are not eager to cut back on their activities.

Also, if we had a dog we would have to keep on top of our messy habits a lot more --- no more toys, projects, and papers strewn about in harm's way, or kids' socks, for example, routinely left on the living room floor. A dog would further strew our already overstrewn life --- the last straw knocking us off the balanced tightrope that our life currently is (well, usually we're teetering anyway, at least us parents).

They do have a guinea pig after soulful kid pleading 3 years ago, and they pay her little attention (except when the oldest takes on her daily feeding for a period, to earn something she wants). Even the guinea pig is some trouble --- the hay and bedding bother 2-3 of us when our allergies flare, the weekly cleaning of her large cage is a sneezy hefty job for either parent, and having to find petsitters for every family camping trip or vacation is often a last-minute stressor. The tradeoffs with a dog would be much heavier.

The girls so enjoy the many dogs they see out and about in our neighborhood. But they can pet and love them (with owner's permission, of course) and then move on without a 24/7 obligation of care, cleanup, and entertainment. The oldest is interested in doing some petsitting/dogwalking in the neighborhood.

We have flexed a bit --- we've offered a deal where if the girls pitch in and help clean up what is at least half their messiness (they are 6 and 9), to the extent that we are never saying 'no, we can't have a playdate over until we get this disaster of a house cleaned up'- our usual mode of sliding into disaster and massive cleanup every 3-4 weeks (though I get the dirty socks more often, lol) -- that if we can by working together keep the mess under control over a period of 6 months - so that the improved habits would hopefully stick - then we our lives would/might be in control enough to add an adult dog. (Though even then the amount of time the dog would be alone in the house might be an issue.)

The girls are wavering on whether they're up for this deal.

Posted by: KB | November 17, 2006 9:40 AM

When I was growing up, dogs roamed the streets wild and stray. Every week we'd see a couple of 'em run over by buses, entrails everywhere. The crows would come down pretty quick, leaving only red bones the next day.

We took in a couple of strays to save em from the buses. We kept em outside all day because we lived near the equator. We fed them our left-over dinners and butcher scraps, bathed them by squirting the water hose, chained them when they were bad, kicked the dog to take out our frustrations. I still have good memories playing with them in the yard, picking ticks off their bodies and all inside their ears. When fido grew old and invalid, we took him to the vet and killed him. The other dog ran off and joined the wild pack; never knew if she got run over by the bus.

Now my kids want a dog so I told 'em to just pick up a lost one from the street. But the misses kept turning 'em back for the reward. Got $300 so far. So we went to the pound. Now I did not know that in America it's like adopting a child. There were forms about income, living conditions, what to feed, parenting class, so on. I got no patience so when they asked me "What kind of toys would you choose for your pet and why?" I said a stick, cause I can play fetch or I can beat him when he's bad. We were rejected. Unfit they say. I told my kids wait a couple more years. In the meantime, just get some fishies and when they die we can flush em down the toilet.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 9:40 AM

Did bears consciously decide that they were higher on the food chain than salmon? I think not.

It is a huge leap to say that that gives us the right to rape, pillage, and abuse. Animals are just that, animals. Humans are humans.

It's ok that there is a difference. And mind you, I love dogs.

Posted by: Huh? | November 17, 2006 9:42 AM

this is a debate about an issue that cannot be resolved. in our case, we have now have an adult child, 4 dogs and a tortoise. we are well able to separate our relationship and love for our daughter from our relationships with the pets. some of the remarks i've read seem to be dismissive of the relationship of people with their pets, minimizing or demeaning its importance. my one dog, frankie, and i, serve as volunteers for a hospice group in arizona. frankie's job is to visit people very near death and to bring comfort to them and their families. i can tell you that i have seen desperately ill people smile and reach out for frankie, just to touch her. even in extremis, that love for a pet or a visitor like frankie, is powerful. very, very moving. there is a bond there that no amount of analysis or discussion will ever adequately explain. it just is.

Posted by: frieda406 | November 17, 2006 9:45 AM

When I was a kid, my aunt came home one day with 12 cats and a dog from the local shelter. She had three kids and a ramshackle apt with a yard that could easily accomodate all the critters. I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen an adult do. Generous, loving, absolutely wonderful. All the other adults poked fun at how crazy she was, but her kids and all of us cousins loved her for it. The animals too.

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 9:46 AM

My wife and I are childless by choice and heavily involved in dog rescue. We foster and rehome rescue dogs and have 4 dogs of our own. While we affectionately refer to our dogs as "our kids" and ourselves as "mommy and daddy" (or "aunt and uncle" to the fosters) I am under no illusion that they are, in fact, human. I don't love them any less for it, though. That being said, if I were somehow faced with running into a burning building and could only save my dog or someone else's child, I would save the child and mourn my dog.

And to "Newly Married in Maryland" who said "Until there are diapers there will be a dog." - please do your dog and Greyhound Rescue a favor and rehome him or her NOW. Greyhound Rescue will have an easier time placing the dog the younger it is, and the dog's trauma (yes, it is traumatic to a dog) will be lessened by having had fewer years to bond with you before you throw him/her out.

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | November 17, 2006 9:46 AM

bless america - ok I get it. You are correct. Compassion has nothing to do with wealth or comfort. I read that to my husband and he interpreted it - I haven't had enough caffeine this morning.

I do think my so-called comfort (or wealth)contributes to my ability to take care of my kids and animals. It does not make me more compassionate towards them than those less "comfortable."

Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 9:46 AM

"And just as it's important for a child to realize that all life doesn't center on them, it's valuable for anyone to realize that all life doesn't center on human beings, either."

what Sophie and JS said.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 9:47 AM

to Mongrel, I can only hope someday you are treated the way you have treated the dogs unfortunate enough to cross your path.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 9:48 AM

Here I am! Whoa - never thought this would show up as a topic. . .

We have a dog that is sick - very sick. He is almost to the end of his chemo treatments - we are hoping that we will have as much time as we possible can with him, which, because he is doing very well, might be a long time. This is why I do not want to leave him. We have friends who can take our dogs to their homes when we have to go out of town (all relatives live a long way away) - this works out most of the time. Because of his illness, I will not put him in a kennel when we go out of town. We can't, however, always rely on our friends to take our dogs - we always give really great presents for helping us out, but we try really hard to not take too much advantage of them.

I adore my dogs - we don't have kids, might adopt. If we do adopt, my dogs will not be treated any differently than they are now. I am super lucky - I don't work and if hubby's job keeps going well, won't have to (I am SO lucky and I appreciate it every day.) - I will have the time for both. That being said, I am somewhat worried about my other dog and how she would deal with kids - it might not be a good situation. I don't know what I would do - luckily, I am in contact with their breeder and I know she would find her a good home. It would be one of the hardest things for me - so I DO see that there are cases where it is necessary - BUT, as several posters have noted, it happens too frequently for much lesser reasons.
The thing about it is, I don't understand why it is so hard for my family to understand that with my dog being sick, we need some consideration, too. My dogs are VERY well-behaved - I worked very hard with them as puppies because I knew that as larger dogs, they needed to be well-behaved if I was going to ask people to accommodate them.
I have plenty of human friends - we just will always have room for them - if a kid or two comes along, we will have to get a bigger car so that we can all fit.
Not all people are pet people - and those who think that the dog is an accessory shouldn't get one. Again, it is all about what is important to us and what isn't.
Again - I will acknowledge that there are other issues here, but I do not understand why one person (sister-in-law) is allowed to make all the rules - haven't people heard of compromise? I am not expecting to go there have my dogs running all around - they are crate-trained and for a few days, we are willing to make the compromise that the dogs spend most of the time in the crates - so why is she able to say - no dogs, period, and get away with it, when it isn't even her home that we are going to?
We aren't used to being around three little kids all of the time, but we aren't asking them to leave the kids at home. . .of course, this is coming across much more harshly than it is intended, but all we are asking for is compromise. . .

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 9:48 AM

To HUH?:

Sometimes, though, that is the attitude that we as humans have, no?

That because a being has less value, that gives us the right to treat them however we want?

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 9:49 AM

A long-time fiend of mine and her husband once had two cats and a dog. One cat was a barn-cat -- her sole purpose was to keep away mice. Except for being spayed she never went to the vet and found her own food and water. The dog was a show dog and was not considered a pet. He was a hobby, one they trained and coached strenuously and sometimes ruthlessly. When the dog got older and they were no longer interested in showing him, they sold him. The 2nd cat was a pet, the one they loved, lavished attention on, and spoiled, and cried over when he died. I could never understand how a person could treat all three animals so differently, but the fact was they didn't see them all in the same light. Depending on why a person chooses to have an animal, they may or may not view them with the same affection as they would their children.

Posted by: rmckee | November 17, 2006 9:49 AM

Once you have children, a dog is just a dog.

Posted by: robert7ii | November 17, 2006 9:50 AM

Mongrel is just that type of person. Oi. And this person has offspring too.

Lovely.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 9:51 AM

Before anyone says anything about putting our dog through chemo - you should see the people lined up every single time I go to drop him off and pick him up. . .there are an awful lot of us who are doing this - people of all
ages. . .if he had been 10, we may not have chosen this route - but at 3.5 when he got sick a year ago, there just wasn't any way we couldn't try. . .

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 9:56 AM

I think pets are wonderful and I had way too many before I had children - yes, they filled the "need to nurture." We still have pets - 1 cat, 1 dog, 1 frog and 1 lizard. We freely admit the dog is the 4th child. She's a wonderful part of the family and has been great for the kids too but she is NOT a child. Although she does go to doggie daycare - especially if she's in a destructive phase (I think large breeds stay puppies much longer) - we can and do leave her alone when we would never do that with a child. She's a dog. Plain and simple. A wonderful dog and one we chose with children first and foremost in mind, but she's a dog.

Grimm- Those Berners are wonderful - we have a Newfoundland who we are starting to cart train too. She loves to have a job and she will pull the sled of snacks when we go snowshoeing - and probably pull the 4 year old once she tires out.

Posted by: Stacey | November 17, 2006 9:58 AM

frieda406 - you are doing such a great thing with frankie the dog. My Father in law died in June - he had brain cancer and was in and out of conciousness for about a week before he passed. They had a "healing dog" come and lay in his bed with him - my FIL came to a couple times and I am sure he was wondering what the heck a dog was doing on his bed - but each time he held onto the dog's paw or ear and fell back asleep. We watched him get warmth, comfort and love from the dog. I could see him relax, he kept his hands on the dog while he slept - sometimes stroking him slightly. We were ALL comforted by the dog - it was wonderful.

Thank you for all that you do - I didn't know you "angels" existed till last June - but it makes perfect sense to me.

Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 9:59 AM

You *have* made a very smart decision, KB. It is a responsibility to have a pet that DOES require more time than you seem to have, and I think it's fantastic that you've been so thoughtful about it. Sounds like your kids are on the right track too. One suggestion is to let them start a pet-sitting business for the neighborhood, so they can earn a little money, see the responsibilities required, and get some pet-affection time. I did it when I was a kid and wasn't allowed to have pets, and I loved it.
Yes, rescue groups are very particular about adopting their pets. And you may think it's unfair or ridiculous, but let me tell you some of the reasons why, and I won't just harp on the "they'll end up back with us again when you decide you can't handle it" that I know irks people who think they're ready.
In rescue, dogs are often fostered in homes. The foster families learn what the dogs are like- whether they're good with kids, potty-trained, etc. If a foster family tells you the dog/cat is not ok with kids, and you have some- TRUST them! If you take this animal hme- it will cause your chldren problems. I can't tell you the number of times I told a parent flat out- this dog/cat will bite your children, and got pushback because the people had decided that that dog/cat was THE right one, no matter what I said. As I mentioned before- just because you have young kids, doesn't mean it's a smart thing to adopt a puppy/kitten. I know they're cute- but they are a heck of a lot more work, and are generally far less patient with children. (Our rescue had a rule that puppies were only ok with kids over 12.) Most puppies go through a nipping stage where they don't understand how hard they're biting. Clearly this does not fit well with children. Rescues are NOT trying to punish you or judge you for having children. Many rescue groups, if they believe you have made the time commitment and will make the pet a member of the family, as many on this blog have done, will work with you to find a dog with the right temperament, activity level, size, weight, etc. for your home, and this is true for those without kids too. Rescue groups are usually trying to make the best fit, so animal AND HUMANS are happy with the outcome.

I must say- I am thrilled to read so many thoughtful, responsible, balanced pet owners/parents on this blog- it makes my rescue heart happy!

Posted by: Baltimore | November 17, 2006 10:00 AM

Sure wish this had been yesterday's topic - can't be around much today so I guess I will miss out. From the looks of it, though, it might not be too popular. Will miss dukin' it out with Emily when she shows up. . .

It's all about making you own choices work out - and compromise to accommodate everyone's needs.

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 10:01 AM

To Silver Spring: No, if these pet owners had done what they should have done, they would have been responsible pet owners and invested their time, love, and if necessary, money, in receiving appropriate training for their dog and themselves. It sounds as though any dog trainer would have identified this dog as fearful and exhibiting aggression if approached while eating. This is a common pet problem and one which is effectively addressed through known training methods. For pet owners to be lazy, uninformed and not get appropriate assistance, which thanks to PetSmart and the internet is virtually a click away, and then give away a pet is just nuts.

What's the deal with the untrained child, though? All children should be trained not to invade the personal space of a dog while the dog is eating, particularly if the child does not know whether the dog is trained!

The dog owners and the child's parents should have/could have easily avoided this incident between an untrained dog and an untrained child.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 10:01 AM

"anyone who does not think you cannot love both equally is simply not a pet person."

I have to respectfully disagree with that statement. I love my daughter much more than my dogs (who were 11 when she was born), and so does my husband (who has had the dogs since they were puppies). I would do anything for my daughter - absolutely. I would give my life for her - but would I give my life for my dogs? Heck no.

We've spent thousands on our dogs' medical care, particularly one who is on phenolbarbitol for seizures. In just this past month we spent $700 on him because of a liver infection. They are wonderful members of our family and we've taught our daughter to be gentle and respectful to them. First thing she asks for when she wakes up is the doggies, because they've usually followed me into her room. We don't board them, have never boarded them, we get a dogsitter to come and stay in the house with them or take them with us.

But love them equally? No, never.

Posted by: PLS | November 17, 2006 10:04 AM

Pets vs Children. I can understand why some responded as you have. I put a high value on all life.

One of my cats is very smart... anthropomorphic -- maybe. But she is well cared for and if she were human she would get the same love and attention.

I think instead of the relationship being one sided or "intimidated" by relationships with people, it gets back to the basics... unconditional love.

I have a hard time understanding people who can't love something that gives unconditional love just for a good bowl of food and pat on the tummy.

Love is love, two legged or four legged.


Posted by: Finiky | November 17, 2006 10:04 AM

I plan to be a crazy cat lady...

Posted by: Missicat | November 17, 2006 10:07 AM

RaiseYourOwnKids said:

Mongrel is just that type of person. Oi. And this person has offspring too.

Lovely.

Maybe Mongrel's offspring will beat each other with sticks or toss one another under a bus, based on the splendid example of parenting.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 10:07 AM

I have to agree and emphasize the importance of training - for the dog and the child. Getting a dog involves socializing and training the dog to be a good member of your family. It also involves teaching children about the dog and dog behavior. We trained both the dog and the preschooler so well that now the dog listens to the smallest family member much better than to the rest of us! If you want a dog as a member of your family - i.e., to go places and do things with your family (we're an outdoor friendly family so that was a given) then it's your obligation to invest in good obedience training. Just as people with poorly trained children can ruin events for everyone else, so too can people with poorly trained dogs. A dog is happy with firm expectations and guidelines and praise for good behavior. I've heard it said that a dog reaches about age 4 in human terms and then stays there. Discipline, expectations and limits, and praise. The occasional treat and toy. Sounds like a 4 year old to me :)

Posted by: Stacey | November 17, 2006 10:08 AM

RaiseYourOwnKids:

In general, I'd say my approach is that all life deserves respect and should be cherished; however, I know I don't respect or care for rats or mosquitoes in the same way I do dogs and cats. I think it's simply biology and evolution that quite logically makes us value humans and our own offspring more than other creatures--'tis a pretty good survival mechanism. All things being equal, you treat the animals as well as possible, but you'd probably give your last bit of food to a starving child vs. a different species, especially if it was your own. For people who don't have children, I don't think this instinct is as close to the surface (nor does it need to be).

I agree with what others said about our affluence enabling us to have and pamper pets. And children for that matter--ya think the hunter gatherers sat around discussing flex schedules and career vs. parenting conflicts? Most of our basic needs are taken care of which seems to be the biggest source of our anxieties/stress/etc. Beyond food, water, shelter, and love, what else in your life do you really NEED?

Posted by: marc | November 17, 2006 10:08 AM

Kevin Dunne -- if you are not a troll -- get some professional help.

Posted by: Middle of the Roader | November 17, 2006 10:10 AM

To WAMC - so sorry to hear about your ill dog. I lost a dog to a brain tumor a couple of years ago and it was very difficult to put him to sleep but I knew it had to be done as he was having intractible seizures. Went out the next week and adopted a new dog from the shelter.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 17, 2006 10:11 AM

'What's the deal with the untrained child, though? All children should be trained not to invade the personal space of a dog while the dog is eating, particularly if the child does not know whether the dog is trained!'

NC Lawyer -

Thank you for pointing another important point - children need to learn from the very beginning that it is not acceptable to pull on ears, tails or legs or whatever. It is all about respect - the pets need to learn to respect the kids - and they can do this - and the kids the same towards the pets. Even there aren't pets in the house, it is important to teach kids how to deal with dogs they may encounter in the street or wherever.

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 10:12 AM

To me, the two issues (pets and children) aren't really connected, except when it comes to pets who come into the family after the children are born. I love my pets but I don't even want to have to say "but they're animals, not children" since it's sooooo obvious.

However - I do think that animals - *especially* dogs - play a big role in obtaining balance. I had a rescued Golden Retreiver about 8 years ago that I finally had to give away because he barked *all* day long in back yard while I was at work. My neighbors were pissed off, I had an old man threaten to call the cops because his wife was recovering from a stroke and the dog was disturbing them, I was going through a divorce and obviously had to work, and the dog wasn't trustworthy inside. Keeping the dog was adding to my already high state of imbalance.

And about 7 months ago, we gave our 2 year old family dog to one of my husband's co-workers because she was not getting the attention she deserved here. We all loved the dog, but nobody *liked* her because she was so high maintenance and energy. Yes, I feel badly about it (especially after reading Marley and Me), but I know that the family she's with now - single mom with two kids who are only there half time - is a much better fit. The mom gives her tons of attention, especially on the days her children aren't home, and everyone's happier. But basically - same thing....the dog was throwing our family out of balance, but she put the new owner's life more in balance because she has the dog for her.

Posted by: momof4 | November 17, 2006 10:14 AM

KB Silver Spring:

Thank you - he is the sweetest dog and we were hoping to be able to breed him. He is doing very well.
When it is unbearable for him, we will let him go - it is lymphoma so it is sort of unpredictable - but he is doing so well for now!

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 10:15 AM

Marc:

Excellent points raised here.

I saw an interesting bumper sticker once that has, well, stuck with me:

"People who abuse animals often don't stop there."

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 10:16 AM

Anyone ever watch the Dog Wisperer? The people with the most problemed dogs are the ones who treat them like children??

Posted by: Lou | November 17, 2006 10:17 AM

I never said I beat my dogs, you are reading into it. We did kick the dogs a couple of times when they were behaving very poorly. We were 8 and 10yrs old then, and that's how everyone trained their dogs. Keep in mind that this was a 3rd world country near the equator 30 yrs ago.
Chaining dogs was also very commonly done at that time where I lived.

We never threw the dogs under the bus, we rescued the strays from being possibly run over by the bus. I guess you people cannot understand what it was like 30yrs ago in a 3rd world country. We gave them a pretty good life. I realise that how we treated them is quite horrible compared to your PetSmart and PetCo standards, PETA and all that. But take a look, even today, at how dogs live in 3rd world countries. They run around eating garbage and other dead dogs. They get whacked with sticks by the street kids. This is life outside your velvet bubble. We fed them left overs and butcher scraps, which is pretty good living already. We protected them within our fences from other fighting dogs and buses. We enjoyed their company and had good companionship. So don't be so quick to judge. That was the 3rd world back then.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 10:21 AM

Off-topic -

I post some but do not think I'm what you call a "regular." I've noticed a couple of times that someone else has posted under this name (yesterday and a few weeks ago). To avoid confusion, and because I really should be working and not doing this anyway, I won't be posting any more. So, other "Sam," use the name freely. Just letting those of you who check this blog enough to know my name know that it won't be the same person making the "Sam" posts. I felt the need to make this statement because there are one or two people who know me in real life, and I don't want to get credit/blame for something someone else says!

Posted by: Sam | November 17, 2006 10:21 AM

To everyone who has the same problem as momof4 had with the golden retriever in the back yard- PLEASE get a crate and leave your dog in it and inside your house! It's not cruel or unusual, and will help keep your dog and you happy. Most adult dogs can be in crates for the 8 hours most folks work plus the drive to and from, so long as they otherwise get lots of exercise and attention! I know this isn't a blog about training pets, but as some folks have mentioned, training your pets helps keep the balance. Neglected dogs in back yards cause lots of problems, from obsessive barking to digging and escaping.

Posted by: Baltimore | November 17, 2006 10:23 AM

You know, it is one thing to criticize the way I treated my dogs when I was 8, but don't go saying that I will treat my kids the same way. That's just very mean, especially coming from such a compassionate pet lover as yourself.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 10:25 AM

to Lou: it depends upon how they treat their children. If their children are untrained, spoiled, and disrespectful, chances are so are the dogs.

Parenting and dog ownership are just not that far apart in concept. The parents know best, and training the dog or child, respectively, benefits us all.

I can't speak to cat ownership. It's always been my understanding that training a cat is a concept rejected by cats:>) Maybe that's just an urban legend circulated by dog lovers.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 10:25 AM

On kids being trained around dogs:
We have a neighbor kid that knocks on the door all the time - of course the dog runs to the door - I open it - the dog is standing there panting (not jumping) - and the neighbor kid always scream "Get that dog away from me." Finally I had enough - I told her not to knock on the door anymore if she couldn't handle the dog being in OUR house. I mentioned to her mother that her kid seems awfully scared of dogs - and she said it was because she hates dogs. Her kid will never learn a thing about dogs, and probably approach a dog improperly one day and get bit (not my dog, he might lick you to death though).

I also have an adult neighbor that came over for a party we were having, he has a 2 year old and she was squealing about the dog sniffing her. I told him I'd put the dog upstairs till she got acclimated but he took this opportunity to tell my dog (in my house) that if he (the dog) kept sniffing his daughter he'd take him (the dog) outside and beat him. I was so shocked I just stood there. Needless to say he hasn't been invited back to my house.

Posted by: CMAC | November 17, 2006 10:27 AM

To Grimm, posting some while back:

You are incorrect that Europeans are less cavalier about their pets than Americans. About two years ago, Italy had to create a 10,000 euro fine for abandoning a pet, because the problem was so huge. Italians go on vacation for an entire month in the summer, and rather than go to the trouble of boarding their dog, some abandon the pet and then get a new one in the fall.

The high rate of abandonment in Europe is why most european countries require microchip ID (it used to be tattoos, but now they're switching to chips). Of course, this is only for animals who have passed through some regulated part of the system, such as a store, registered breeder, or shelter. Farm pets and backyard-bred animals are largely unregulated, like here.

They also don't neuter their pets at as high a rate as Americans.

So why are the shelters less crowded than ours? Can't say for sure, but I can say that I have never seen an American farmer toss a bag of puppies in the pond to drown. I have seen French and Italian farmers who do it on a weekly basis, as a part of their regular chores.

Posted by: WDC | November 17, 2006 10:27 AM

'What's the deal with the untrained child, though? All children should be trained not to invade the personal space of a dog while the dog is eating, particularly if the child does not know whether the dog is trained!'

This is true, but dogs that bite should be put down. I think the only time it is okay for a dog to nip is when a child jumps on it or hurts it and the dog just does it out of a need to get away from the child, not on purpose.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 10:28 AM

So Leslie, shouldn't the govt or the employers start offering benefits for pets? Time off for sick pets, grooming, training classes? Paid leave? Pet health and dental? We ought to pass a law mandating these benefits, shouldn't we?

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 10:28 AM

Baltimore -

Thanks for mentioning that. We did crate train our last dog, and it worked wonderfully. When she was here she was only crated at night, but now she is all day while her new owner is at work. I wish I had known more about it when we first got the golden. :o(

Posted by: momof4 | November 17, 2006 10:28 AM

Amen, Baltimore. Crating solves many many behavioral problems. Don't put your dog in a situation where they CAN get in trouble (i.e. outside alone all day and bored) and they won't.

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | November 17, 2006 10:28 AM

NC lawyer - here's a joke that will explain - A dog looks at a human and says "he feeds me, he shelters me, he loves me - he must be a god! The cat says: he feeds me, he loves, he shelters me - I must be a god!

Posted by: Missicat | November 17, 2006 10:29 AM

Kids are totally replaceable.

We have had our dog for six years, rescued from a shelter. She's the best dog in the world. Once we have a baby, if the dog's allergic, the kid will have to go.

Posted by: Regina Philange | November 17, 2006 10:29 AM

Mongrel:

Um, how are we supposed to react when you say that the dog's toy is going to be a stick, which will also be useful for you to beat it with?

Do you kick your kids when they misbehave too?

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 10:29 AM

To Huh?

"To RYOK - We're superior because are higher on the food chain....."

By that logic, sharks, lions, grizzly bears, and crocodiles are all superior to us because technically, they are higher on the food chain than humans. Take away guns and other weapons and we don't stand much of a chance against these animals, one-on-one.

People are not superior to animals, we are just different. We have pets because we enjoy their company and the opportunity to interact with something that does not judge you or intentionally hurt you, as kids or people do, and gives you unconditional love like no other human can. But, like every other animal on the planet, if given the choice, we will always choose to save/help/care for our own offspring over another individual. So it turns out we really aren't that different from animals.

Be kind to your pets, if you can't give them the time and attention they need, find someone else who can. They deserve it.

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 10:31 AM

Missicat -- I see I understood correctly, LOL.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 10:31 AM

Oh, and I just wanted to explain something (not that I really need to, but I want to LOL) - before my ex-husband and I separated, he was home during part of the day because he was a student and later a substitute teacher, so the dog wasn't left outside for the longer periods of time that he was after we separated. So for us, it was a matter of the dog's life changing along with ours - that's why I said that I think animals play a huge role in balance (and imbalance!). They're affected by big changes like divorce, moving, etc. too.

Posted by: momof4 | November 17, 2006 10:32 AM

Dogs vs kids? That's an easy one. Dogs win.

Posted by: Steve | November 17, 2006 10:32 AM

My wife and I have 2 dogs and 2 cats (well, my wife has the cats, the dogs and I tolerate them!) We don't have kids yet, but plan to at some point. We have plenty of friends and family members that have children, and watching their interactions, I can conclude that having pets does not compare in any way to having kids. Two puppies is a lot; I can't fathom the work required to raise kids.

Our household has become much more lively, and somehow more fulfilling, after raising and training 2 pups to become well behaved adult dogs. They have wonderful, quirky personalities that make us laugh and drive us crazy at the same time; we tell stories about them to our friends, and bragged in awe while they grew (combinined to 150 lbs). Of course, our friends tell stories about their kids, but there is definitely a similarity.

I'm very glad we decided to get the dogs. It makes our house a home, much more so than just having 2 cats. It's a much safer home now as well. With those two around, I sleep much better.


Posted by: Dogs and Cats | November 17, 2006 10:33 AM

To Dogs and Cats - JUST 2 cats? My cats and I beg to differ! :-)
Actually my kitties are very doglike in some ways...so I get the best of both.

Posted by: Missicat | November 17, 2006 10:34 AM

I understand that some folks are really attached to their dogs and treat them as family. As such, shouldn't they be responsible for their family? I go to many parks with strict leash laws yet I see people letting their beloved pets run around wild and unleashed. Their dogs leave dropping all over the place and inevitably I step into a pile of fresh dung. Sometimes the dog runs up to me and tries to hump my leg, so I politely say, "Hi doggie, did you LOSE YOUR LEASH?" The owner pretends not to hear and I have to shoo loverboy away every so gently, lest I be accused of kicking the dog.

Once a huge dog, 70lbs or so, ran up to my 3yr old. Of course, dogs are supposed to be leashed in this park, signs are everywhere. I know doggie just wanted to play, but my 3yr old thought he was going to be eaten. I still remember the terror in his eyes as he ran back screaming "Daddy! Help me!". I picked him up and reassured him, but took him 20 mins to settle down and then he wanted to go home. The owner just called his dog back and walked away. To this day, (he's 8 now) he is still afraid and wary of dogs, especially big ones. We are slowly acclimating him to small dogs and hope that eventually he will be ok.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 10:36 AM

>>Anyone ever watch the Dog Wisperer? The people with the most problemed dogs are the ones who treat them like children??<<

The people with the "most problemed dogs" are the ones who don't TRAIN THEM and expect the dog to know how to behave. Dogs are not born knowing how we want them to react to situations just like kids aren't.

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | November 17, 2006 10:37 AM

you feel safer at home with your dogs? Mine would identify any burglar as a new playmate, nearly lick 'em to death, then direct 'em to the silver. The most valuable thing in our house is our dogs.

Posted by: to Dogs and Cats | November 17, 2006 10:37 AM

I think that most people can find room in their hearts for BOTH their pets and their children, if they have them. Sure, the kids will take priority, but having kids doesn't mean you stop loving your pets any more than getting married means you drop all your friends because you have a spouse now. (I should hope!) I admit that I don't "get" people whose circle of caring is very narrow.

And I agree with the other posters who noted that what drives pet-lovers crazy is not "I love my kids more than I love my pets" but the whole attitude of disposable pets. People who acquire pets on a whim and drop them off at shelters (or, worse, turn them loose by the road) equally on a whim. I believe that once you have a pet, that's a *responsibility* and you shouldn't just dump the pet because you are tired of it.

In many European countries (Britain and Germany, for instance) there are fewer pet owners but also far fewer homeless and abandoned pets. Over there, having a pet is a privilege, not a right, and shelters and breeders screen accordingly. The result is fewer but more responsible pet owners.

I am very much a cat person and hope to find a SO who equally loves cats (none of this "cats are women's pets and I kick them when she's not looking" BS!). On the whole, I don't think pet people should marry non-pet-people unless the latter are willing to convert to loving pets. It may seem trivial, but it's one of those differences in values that can cause real friction in the long run.

Finally, bit o' trivia I found when I was looking something up on Google: In Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Russia, people prefer cats as pets. In Spain, Greece and Italy, they prefer dogs. Scandinavians, Americans, Australians and New Zealanders keep both about equally. And finally, which nation keeps the most pets? Nope, not the US - it's New Zealand, where over half of households have a cat, a dog, or both.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | November 17, 2006 10:38 AM

The comments suggesting that a young child's responsibility to control themselves is greater than a dog owner's responsiblity to control their dog, reveals the profound mis(re?)orientation of values in our society.

The law, however, is not equally confused. The law places the burden squarely on the pet owner.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 10:38 AM

Sounds like you need to train your dog to be more respectful of kids. Bet that dog will bite a kid sooner or later. Get off your high horse about all children needing to be trained to deal with dogs, and start being a responsible owner.

Posted by: To CMAC | November 17, 2006 10:38 AM

I have a dog and not kids. I tend to view my dog as a toddler. He can somewhat express himself and I absolutely know when he's mad at me. I can teach him a bunch of things, but he'll never become independent like a child (hopefully) will. I view him as part of the family, but should I have kids, he'll know there's another member of the pack that out ranks him. I think they are very different relationships. I think parents evolve from providers to mentors, meaning the kids take on more responsibility for their own lives as they reach adulthood. My dog, however, will always be totally dependent on me. And if you're not able to make that type of committment, you really shouldn't have a dog. I understand things happen beyond someone's control (kids allergies, etc) that would force them to give up a dog, but it bothers me when people use/view them as an accessory.

Posted by: Sorta Similar | November 17, 2006 10:39 AM

Humor impaired? I was filling out tons of adoption forms and got so frustrated that I put that stick line as a joke to see what would happen.

I would never beat my kids, much less with a stick. It is incomprehensible that I would make that leap connecting how I treat my dogs with how I treat my kids. Dogs are pets, kids are human beings. It's a world of difference. BTW, I don't beat dogs with a stick either.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 10:39 AM

Bob - that's not a dog problem, it's a people problem. Although it's sad that your son became afraid of dogs, perhaps he can now understand that the dog's OWNER was in the wrong, not the dog. If you have a friend, relative, neighbor with a large gentle dog, maybe you could introduce your son to the dog. I think small dogs are often more hyper and more inclined to be unpredictable than a large dog. Watching an obedience class might be a good way to show your son that most dogs are well behaved and all dogs should be.

Posted by: Stacey | November 17, 2006 10:40 AM

A bit off topic, but the best book I ever read about raising a dog was "How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend" by the Monks of New Skete. Highly, highly recommended.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 17, 2006 10:42 AM

I usually don't mind getting off-topic, but I think today's topic could have been replaced by something more timely. People are more important than domesticated animals, period. If your kid is allergic to an animal, and you have to give one away, it is never the human.

The reason why this keeps coming up is because people in the workplace think pets should be considered family members to take care of whenever we bring up flex-time or professional leave or whatever. I guess if a business wants to recognize that, it's fine, but if I were in HR, I wouldn't. Care of humans benefits society in a way that caring for pets does not, and that is why it is reflected as such in professional HR policies. If you have to leave work or have flex time to care for a child, an aging parent, an ill relative, etc. - those people have most likely contributed to society in some quantifiable way (paid into Social Security, bagged your groceries at the supermarket, were a producer/consumer in the national economy, etc.). Pets don't - the benefit to a pet beloved by its owner usually ends with the owner (ok, you COULD argue that a person who is happier with a pet might be a better worker, but you couldn't ever prove or quantify that enough to say people should be given time off to care for their pets in the same way people can care for the young/aged/sick). Plus, what happens to your co-worker who has kids AND pets - do they get twice the amount of time off?

This could be an argument for paid time off systems instead of sick days, vacation days, personal days, etc. but truly, at the risk of sounding like a grinch (and like I hate my own dog) - pet care should not receive the same time off care as people related care should.

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 17, 2006 10:45 AM

"Humor impaired? I was filling out tons of adoption forms and got so frustrated that I put that stick line as a joke to see what would happen.

I would never beat my kids, much less with a stick. It is incomprehensible that I would make that leap connecting how I treat my dogs with how I treat my kids. Dogs are pets, kids are human beings. It's a world of difference. BTW, I don't beat dogs with a stick either."

So, then you shouldn't have been surprised when you were denied the dog, right? They do take what you say on adoption forms seriously.

And if you're frustrated by adoption forms, then maybe it's not right for you to have them in the first place. Do you get as easily frustrated when you have to fill out forms of info for your kids?

Sorry, but "joking" about beating animals or kids isn't funny. Why? Because it's reality for too many.

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 10:45 AM

Sounds like you need to train your dog to be more respectful of kids. Bet that dog will bite a kid sooner or later. Get off your high horse about all children needing to be trained to deal with dogs, and start being a responsible owner.

I'm busy CMAC, but I got your back on this one. Her dog does not sound mean. I am sure that she would not have a mean dog. That being said, when you are a guest in someone's house you shouldn't make demands or say "i'm going to beat your dog."

Sniffing, which any dog I have ever been around does, does not equal biting. Plus, the neighbors should watch their kids and not let them run around knocking on doors.

Her dog was in her house, did you miss that part?

Posted by: scarry | November 17, 2006 10:45 AM

Humans are not superior to dogs? We created dogs. Is there any other species on this planet that could do that?

If a dog bites your kid in a way in which harm is intended, the dog goes...if you don't feel that way, please don't have children. If a dog causes your kid to be sick, you get rid of the dog. You want to medicate your kid just so you can continue to have your dog? People that believe this, please don't have children.

Posted by: Tillman | November 17, 2006 10:46 AM

"The comments suggesting that a young child's responsibility to control themselves is greater than a dog owner's responsiblity to control their dog, reveals the profound mis(re?)orientation of values in our society."

No one has suggested that the young child's responsibility is greater; however, we have suggested that parents of young children bear an equal responsibility with parents of pets to train their children how to approach animals, including pets. With parenting, as with pet ownership, comes responsibility. To let bad things happen because either parent or owner shirks that responsibility or fails to supervise the child while the child is in the home of a pet is irresponsible.

This is not a values argument. It's an argument for personal responsibility rather than always blaming someone else when bad things happen. That's not fair to children or pets.

Posted by: To An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 10:47 AM

Just angers me that freaking lobsters were taken out of Whole Foods because it was animal abuse!

Ridiculous!

Posted by: Huh? | November 17, 2006 10:48 AM

Hear, hear, Tillman! High five!

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 10:53 AM

I think we are all dogs to allow Leslie to throw us this bone and then fight all over it.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 10:55 AM

I'm with you. Parents certainly need to teach their children to be mindful/respectful of unfamiliar pets. However, I have seen many instances where a child reasonably attempts to pet or otherwise interact with a dog and the dog has reacted defensively/aggresively.

Don't get me wrong. I love animals and have been around them my whole life. I do understand the love we have for them and appreciate what they return to us (though I wouldn't call it love).

My view is that though pets are valuable and enjoyable, there is no comparison with relationships with other humans (children and otherwise). People develop intense relationships with lots of non-human "things," (e.g. sports teams, tv shows, food, etc), but that doesn't elevate them to the same value as human relationships. Again, in the individual's mind/life that "thing" may be MORE valuable than their relationships with people. But that belief does not create an objective truth that can form the basis of a generalized value judgment regarding the worth of animals versus children/people.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 10:56 AM

Well said, An Dliodoir!!

Posted by: Lou | November 17, 2006 10:58 AM

Pets are very important to many people. I understand that--especially having had pets I loved and cherished.

The pet v. children debate gets me when a non-parent makes comments that he or she can understand the parenting issue I'm having because he or she has a dog (or whatever). Uh, certainly some training issues may be the same, but raising a dog and a child are a smidge different. Although, if my daughter would sit when told and heel, wouldn't life be easier?! (ha ha)

Also, when did we become "pet parents" and not "pet owners." Heard "pet parents" on some commerical (Pet Smart perhaps), and thought it was silly.

Posted by: reader | November 17, 2006 11:00 AM

An Dliodoir //But that belief does not create an objective truth that can form the basis of a generalized value judgment regarding the worth of animals versus children/people//

Very well put! This is a message that PETA needs to get into their heads.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 11:01 AM

It may be true that for most with pets and children, the children are far more important. It may even be true that any given couple would value children more than pets if they had both.

However, it is also true that many people take much better care of their pets than many other people take of their children.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 17, 2006 11:03 AM

Good thing you are NOT in HR. Yes, you really DO come across as a Scrooge. People need time off - and sometimes it IS for sick pets. Am I supposed to just let my dog or cat be ill or die because Scrooge McBoss can't spare one day or even less of my time?

This is the problem with American business, and it's not just (or even mostly) to do with pets. It has everything to do with people being expected to be a slave to the company. If I need time off - for parents, kids OR pets - by cracky I'm going to take it. I have a life outside of work and the company needs to respect that.

Posted by: To theoriginaljustathought | November 17, 2006 11:04 AM

My sister has a friend who has three "mongrel" big dogs plus a husband, 2 year old, and a baby. She never once thought about giving up those dogs because she had kids. We say that she should be the poster mom for having it all- kids & dogs.

Posted by: Rockville | November 17, 2006 11:05 AM

"I would give my life for her - but would I give my life for my dogs? Heck no."

The sad thing is a dog would unflinchingly give their life for you.

Posted by: ilc | November 17, 2006 11:06 AM

just for laughs, guys, . . .

my eleven-year old told me the other night that I hadn't been "cool" since the '80s. Ouch! My Golden and my spaniel tell me I'm "cool" multiple times each day.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 11:06 AM

I'm guessing you aren't a lawyer - that's EXACTLY what I was saying, let your pet die in a gutter, but show up to work. Knucklehead.

I was saying that there SHOULD be paid time off policies that don't discriminate for what kind of time you take off, but that if a business enacts a policy about taking time off for human care specifically, it shouldn't include pet time. Reread the original post you illiterate toad.

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 17, 2006 11:09 AM

When you have a pet or child it is your responsibility to give it love, training, health care, quality time, etc. for the rest of its life. If you can't make that commitment to a pet, don't get one. If you can't make that commitment to a child, don't have one.

Posted by: Suzanne | November 17, 2006 11:11 AM

"I would give my life for her - but would I give my life for my dogs? Heck no."

The sad thing is a dog would unflinchingly give their life for you.

Are you kidding me? They can't reason enough to do that. Yes, they may bite the burglery but they aren't going to jump in front of the bullet.

Posted by: ? | November 17, 2006 11:12 AM

For all you PETA folks out there,
People Eating Tasty Animals
http://www.monkey.net/archives/peta.jpg

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 11:15 AM

And another thing...I think it's a very bad idea to get a pet "for the children" or "to teach the children responsibility" if the ADULTS in the house aren't willing to shoulder the lion's share of the work.

Sure, kids - especially older ones - can and should be expected to help feed the pet, scoop the litterbox, walk the dog, etc. But ultimately, Mom and/or Dad is going to be the referee, pet trainer and coach here. And young kids (<10 or so) mostly aren't equipped to be the primary pet caretaker, and teenagers are often too busy.

I've seen really unhappy situations where parents get a pet "for the kids" or "to teach the children responsibility" and the kids aren't up to it. Ultimately, the parents need to accept that they will be the primary pet caretaker and the person with whom the responsibility rests.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | November 17, 2006 11:16 AM

For a departure from dogs v. children, check out www.peopleanimalslove.com (PALs) -- a DC-area organization of 340 volunteer therapy dog teams. See what many DC area dogs are doing for children who are in the hospital. And how these therapy dogs are helping inner city youth (and elderly residents in nursing homes, Katrina evacuees at the Armed Forces Retirement Home and wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center).

If your dog is friendly and reasonably well-behaved, you're 90% of the way to being certified as a PALs therapy team. Consider attending a two-hour orientation and get certified to visit area hospitals and nursing homes.

Experience the magic of your dog brightening another person's day. And vice versa. :-)

Posted by: TSS | November 17, 2006 11:16 AM

A couple of issues that I want to weigh in on:

Crate training: This is a must for anyone with a hyper-active puppy or dog who likes to chew! A lot of people think that crate training is cruel or a type of punishment, but it is really the best thing you can do for your dog. It gives the dog a space that is his and his only, that he can use as a retreat from kids, noise, etc. And canines are denning animals, so this virtual "den" will jibe with a dog's natural instincts. Crating will also help your dog if they ever need to go to the vet or kennel and be caged for any amount of time. In my veterinary experience, the dogs that were the least stressed were the dogs that had been crate trained. Please, everybody, crate train your dogs! But never, never, use the crate for time out or as punishment.

Bob: I'm sorry to hear about your son's experience, but it sounds like you wandered into an unofficial dog park. Not all dog parks are officially sanctioned, but they exist nonetheless. Dog owners frequently let their dogs off the leash to socialize, play, and just have a good time with other dogs. However, it is the owners responsibility to make sure their dog responds to voice command, is friendly to children, and can play nicely with other dogs. In the future, if you suspect a park is also used as an unofficial dog park, avoid that area.

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 11:17 AM

I keep seeing posts about dogs biting children...
Why aren't the owners supervising the interaction of dog and child?
As a very much pregnant woman with 2 dogs the dog/small child interaction has become an important issue with me. Therefore, I've been doing everything I can to make certain my dogs are trained (possibly excessively) and well-mannered and very accepting and calm around children.
That being said, I know all dogs can and will bite if motivated. My pups and baby will not be left unsupervised together unless the dogs are in their crates (which lock so no chance the baby can open it).
When our child is old enough and understands how to be around our dogs then they can be alone together. besides the dog biting the child, there are so many other things that can go wrong. Anything else is just irresponsible.
And yes, when our dogs are around children I am right there making sure everything goes smoothly.

Posted by: Practical dog owner | November 17, 2006 11:18 AM

"When you have a pet or child it is your responsibility to give it love, training, health care, quality time, etc. for the rest of its life. If you can't make that commitment to a pet, don't get one. If you can't make that commitment to a child, don't have one."

I agree 100%.

Posted by: To Suzanne | November 17, 2006 11:22 AM

When I met my husband he had a dog. She was his best friend, really. I knew he'd make a great dad because he treated the dog with respect but also had rules that she had to follow (No jumping on people, no going on the furniture, etc). She was a great dog. He knew I was okay because his dog and I got along (he says he really took what she 'said' about people to heart and if someone he was dating didn't get along with her, there was something suspect about them).

The dog became a part of our lives, and she was the sweetest thing. He signed her up with a local group and took her to nursing homes/children's hospitals, that sort of thing, and it was the best thing for her - she had a 'job.'

Since having a child, she got less and less attention, but she was happy because she had more people to love and more people to love her. She taught our son to be compassionate for others, to help around the house (one of the first thing he did was put food in her dish). We got another dog when my son was one - and he is even gentler than she was!

We had to put dog #1 down a few months ago because she was old and sick. It was definitely heartbreaking. My son definitely had some grieving to do (in addition to us). But it has taught him a lot - he had a lot of questions (he's four) and he really loved her, even if he didn't play with her every day.

Anyway, no, the dog(s) are not people, and we know that, but they add so much to our lives and our kid's lives. We rescued them both and they both have been quite greatful for that. The worst part is that they are both so gentle (both pet therapy dogs) that the kids just think they can walk up to any dogs and just pet them or jump on them or whatever (with both dogs, we've had playgroup where we've had 5 or more little kids jumping on them and they loved it, really).

Posted by: atlmom | November 17, 2006 11:22 AM

//In the future, if you suspect a park is also used as an unofficial dog park, avoid that area.//

Actually, I'm now planning to report every violation to the parks dept and have the owners cited. Why should we accede to the wishes of irresponsible dog owners? When did theirs or their dogs rights trump the law?
In this city there are already 6 dogs parks, so there are plenty of options for them already. We specifically go to the non-dog parks to get away from unleashed roving dogs. I went to a dog park a couple of times and it was quite scary, not to mention dangerous. They'd be running with a full head of steam, pop out from the brushes, fight with each other, and inevitably, I'd step into fresh turd (there's a lot more here).
And for some reason, they just love to hump my leg.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 11:22 AM

to The Original Just A Thought: at the risk of being designated an amphibian (or is a toad a reptile?),

I do think there's a real issue in many workplaces of requesting time off, and having that request only granted when the reason resonates as important to the decision-maker. If the decision-maker shares the values of the requester, this works out well for the requester. If not, not so much.

For example, parent employees ask a parent-boss to take the day off because Suzy's sick, and often get no pushback, even if that absence burdens the team. (I'm not suggesting that push-back is appropriate so don't misunderstand.) On the other hand, when a childfree pet owner asks a non-pet-lover boss to come in late because of an emergency vet appointment, the request may be treated as optional, and of less importance than the sick-child request. Perhaps that strikes you as appropriate, but it is a real workplace issue for many childfree pet lovers and, IMHO, is an issue about which managers should be sensitized.

For folks who work in an office where the policy is to fill out a leave slip and do whatever they want with that time, of course, this is not an issue.

and yes, sometimes I take off, come in late, leave early because my children are sick/school play/parent teacher conferences. and sometimes we have a pet emergency. Unlike many employees, and I am well aware of how fortunate our family is, I have the flexibility to take the same time off for pet emergencies. (btw, Because I don't do shift work any more, my absences don't burden colleagues.) I'm even more lucky that I have an assistant who is a pet lover -- I never complain to her supervisors about her pet-related absences (there's always another way to get the work done while she's out of the office), and she helps me catch up if I am absent for a vet appointment.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 11:25 AM

I agree with Suzanne. There is a level of responsibility to having a pet or a child and people should be more aware of this responsibility. I have 2 little jack russell terriers, very hyper dogs. My 1st child was due yesterday....yes, I am over. In preparation for the baby coming, my husband and I completed another series of obedience training for the dogs, as well as established new house rules such as off limit areas in the house. This is all preparation for the baby - which will rank higher than the dogs. In an effort to ensure our dogs are not unnecessarily slighted we have made arrangements with a local dog walker and put them on a regular and rigorous walking schedule that will be increased once the baby arrives and we are consumed with learning to care for a newborn.

We will see how this whole grandiose plan works out. I have been told that I will quickly forget about the dogs (which have appeared on our Xmas card for the last 2 years) as the new baby will take over our lives. I am hoping these people are wrong. While I know that the love I will have for my child will be greater than how I feel for my pets - I do not anticipate my feelings toward these 2 little terriers to be devalued in any way with the addition of a child.

Check back with me in 3 months....

Posted by: TEJ | November 17, 2006 11:28 AM

I guess it is the intrinsic nature of some humans to "love conditionally," like a pre-nup. I wonder if animals can sense that, and maybe that explains some pets' behaviors. Many, if not all, pets love unconditionally. Therefore it's all about how you define "love." To that end, I would modify the Beatles "The End" lyric to this: "and in the end....the love you give....is equal to the love you live.....

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 11:29 AM

I once had a co-worker who stayed home for 3 days because her lesbian partner's dog was recovering from surgery.

The manager was quick to approve it for fear that the company would be sued so many different ways: gender discrimination, sexual-orientation, anti-PETA.

When we needed to take off early for a school play, he usually hesitated and asked why our kids had so many activities.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 11:30 AM

love Missicat's joke about cats and dogs.

nice to spend Friday on this topic. to me it's less intense than some of our other subjects. ha -- from freezing your eggs to pets v. kids -- all in one week. i love it.

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 11:34 AM

We have two cats and would love to have a dog but can't imagine ever having enough time to treat that responsibility the way it should be treated. Enough said.

I'd like to suggest two topics for future "free for alls".
1. Are you sending a holiday newsletter? Why or why not? do you love them or loathe them and why?

2. Give your favorite suggestion for how to achieve "balance" during the holiday season. What do you do every year? What do you refuse to do?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | November 17, 2006 11:38 AM

It seems to me that this topic really becomes an issue in two ways: 1) parents getting miffed when pet owners compare having a pet to having a child or 2) pet owners getting miffed when parents say that the pet owners couldn't possibly know how much more you love a child. But to me, whoever way at the beginning said, "its like comparing cheesecake and salad" has it right.

My closest friend has two great danes, one of which is blind, and loves them tremendously. She structures much of her life around those dogs and takes great care of them (and WAMC, her mom also has a dog in chemo right now). When my son was first born, before he had much in the way of communication skills and I would talk to her about difficulties we were having, she would often offer ideas that were based in dog training - she was always somewhat apologetic and respectful, and never tried to make it sound like she thought it was the same, but her ideas were often useful and interesting, and I really appreciated it. I would never try to diminish her love for her dogs by saying it doesn't compare to my love for my son; she would never try to diminish my experience raising a child by saying she knows just what it's like because she has a dog. We can share our experiences and see that they are both profound. As to how she will see it if she has a child, I have no idea, I don't think it really matters right now.

Posted by: Megan | November 17, 2006 11:39 AM

to TEJ, I suppose there are some who forget all about their dogs when they have kids, including some on this board; however, that is not a universal experience. introducing our golden to our newborn was one of the coolest experiences of bringing our daughter home from the hospital. He has always treated her as if she needs his special protection -- used to lay across the stairs to make sure she didn't fall down, even though we were right there as well. It has always been as if she has a guardian angel with fur. Perhaps your experience will be different, but whatever it is, I wish your growing family all the best!

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 11:40 AM

to NC Lawyer:

You may be fortunate, but that is not completely the picture. Luck maybe had something to do with where you are, but obviously if you are a lawyer, you yourself worked hard to get where you are.
Education was important enough for you to pursue it, so really, it's not just dumb luck that you are working where you are - you definitely had something to do with it.
I'm not saying you are the only one responsible for where you are, but certainly, it's not just luck.
I have a friend who tells me all the time how 'lucky' I am that my husband works the hours he does. Well, he has turned down positions where he wasn't comfortable with the work environment - so it wasn't 'luck' at all that he works where he does.
People sometimes blame where they are on 'luck,' but many times (no not ALWAYS) people are where they are because they chose where they are - even not doing something is a choice.

Posted by: atlmom | November 17, 2006 11:40 AM

Also, on a lighter note, does anyone else remember seeing a complete look of horror on their animal's face when they first saw your baby crawl?

Our two cats were totally freaked out by our son's arrival, but eventually got comfortable hanging out with us all. Then one day the cat was lying on the floor near where my son was sitting, and my son started to crawl towards the cat - the cat just looked like, "WTF? It moves??"

Posted by: Megan | November 17, 2006 11:43 AM

LOL!! Our dog cocked its head to the side in disbelief, as well . . .

Posted by: to Megan | November 17, 2006 11:46 AM

Taking the conversation in a completely different direction, I'd like to say that the spray bottle one might use to "train" cats also translates very well over to human children. Our 4 yr. old will immediately run or stop doing something the minute a mysterious water jet hits him (just like the cats do). So I'm beginning to see why Leslie picked this topic... Our dog and son often fight over toys and they currently wear the same shirt size. Both of them get out of line when they are not reminded that the adults make the rules. Both of them love routine and structure. And balance has been restored to our lives as we no longer have to clean the floors because the dog does it for us, while the cats are in the middle of recycling our furniture sans fee (they will shred and reuphoster various pieces using their own hair without even being asked). How cool would it be if you got more time off of work the more children and pets you had?

Posted by: marc | November 17, 2006 11:47 AM

Meghan: that is hysterical.

Our dogs love love love our kids. They even love when they pull ears, paws, tongues, whatever. When the baby is crying, my dog goes up to him and starts licking him on the face - to cheer him up. I think they liked when they started crawling, cause they could play more with the kids.
The kids love to chase the dogs (and each other) but our golden really is too lazy to play chase (yes, he's a golden RETRIEVER and if you throw a ball near him and say: go get it! he looks at you as if to say: well, if you want it, why'd you throw it in the first place?).

Posted by: atlmom | November 17, 2006 11:47 AM

We have three cats and that is just fine with us. Animals are nicer than most people. And yes, I'd give my life for theirs.

Posted by: avhuebner | November 17, 2006 11:48 AM

I do not live in the Washington area. In my city we have only one official dog park, but a few others that are "unofficial". The local authorities know that it exists and as long as the dogs (and owners) behave themselves and pick up the feces, it is allowed to stay, in an unofficial capacity. Bob, I don't know where you live and how many official dog parks you have in your area, I was just trying to explain how it can work sometimes. It may very well be that the authorities already know about that dog park, but do not cite people unless their dog poses a risk. Before alerting the authorities, you may want to KINDLY inform people of official dog parks in the area, is there a chance these people don't know about them? You would be doing yourself and them a favor!

However, you do have a point about not picking up after the dogs, that is a $500-$1000 fine in my city. Watch your step!

But also remember, dogs at play, especially big dogs, do play aggressively, and it may look scary to the untrained eye. But they are not hurting the other dogs or bystanders, and are not actively trying to attack you or scare you. Please do not fault them or their owners for their natural behavior. Dogs have a lot of energy that needs to be expended, and a dog park is the perfect place for them to run around at a full steam, I doubt any owners could keep up with them if they were on a leash! In addition, socializing with other dogs and people is extremely important, as this will teach a dog how to behave in public, interact with strangers, and to get used to being around other dogs.

However, dog parks are not a place for small children. As you mentioned, dogs are large and often don't look where they are going, and small children can get hurt. Most dogs just want to play, but they can be too strong for a small child. Also, not all dogs are familiar with children and may not be child friendly, even if they are okay with other dogs.

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 11:48 AM

can't we all just get along?

In my travels, I've eaten animals of all kinds: dogs, cow, sheep, snake - all considered pets by some people

I own pets - dog, cat - and will take care of them as they bring me joy.

It is a good thing life is not fair - if it was, would we be here now, having this pleasant discourse?

Posted by: rodney king | November 17, 2006 11:49 AM

Training a dog, very important. It makes the owner happy, the dog happy and calmer, everyone's happy. It's great that training programs are cheaper and more accessible these days. But isn't "training" a kid a more important issue? You know--learning please and thank you, table manners, how to sit quietly all of that fun stuff less and less kids are expected to do. Take the 4 year old boy who crawled under my stall one day at a public restroom. No apology from mom, just a laugh. People thinks dogs must be trained to behave and if they show any sign of aggression there should be no second chance. This standard is not held to children and many children are allowed to behave aggressively, hyper, etc with little or no consequence. If "a dog is just a dog" like people on this blog are saying then why not focus on the more important topic of training a kid to behave?

Posted by: d's ma | November 17, 2006 11:50 AM

d's ma - my sentiments exactly! Thank you!

Posted by: avhuebner | November 17, 2006 11:52 AM

**Warning: book length posting!***

First off, I personally grew up with dogs, and love them. Talk about unconditional love. Never have liked cats much, and as spouse is allergic to them, that makes that one easy.

But as spouse family and our Southwest heritage gives us a different viewpoint of the land and animals that are supported from it, I hope this won't overly offend. That not the intent, it's just to open up the discussion.

I'll preface that I agree that animals can be fabulous companions and alleviate loneliness and fill that need to nurture.
With that said, I respect that those folks without children can often feel the need to equate the two when comparing themselves as caregivers, but I submit that it often strikes a nerve with some of us. Regardless of any and all that animals provide, the moral equation involved just isn't the same, regardless of how some who feel strongly about it may tend to blur the line.

Further, I have always disliked that vets of today use their ingrained financial interest to subtly push for ridiculously expensive and often cruelly life prolonging procedures in pets. Never thought I'd see diabetes, liver disease and cancer treated in pets, but it is.

**From my personal perspective** --Regardless of how long-term they have been in your family, or how much you care for them, the trend of spending many, many thousands of dollars on extensive operations and exotic life extensions procedures for pets seems almost bizarre in wastefulness.

When one considers what those many thousand of dollars could do to help our own species, especially kids that will die due to lack of $5 malaria net or from lack of a 5 cent dysentery medication, the comparison seems almost obscene. This is a politically incorrect comparison perhaps, but I don't think it detracts from the truth of it.

Vets should in my mind be taught more how to say to owners that they should prepare to let their aged or very sick animals go. It is often more cruel to force an animal that in nature lives a vigorous, active life to endure a sharply reduced quality of life just because vet science can do it, and for our human vanity. When most pet owners are placed in that pressure packed situation with a sick animal and a decision to make, they often feel they can't let them go just because of money, and so no expense is spared. Vets should take that hard choice off the owner and say that though such prohibitally expensive and invasive things are now medically possible, it would be better to let beloved Fido go in peace, remembering the healthy way he enjoyed life, and the fruitful time spent together. IMO, that equation seems to have been turned on it's head these days.

I'm not convinced we, or the animals, are better off for it...

Finally in parting, one pet (pardon the pun ;-) peeve for me comes from dog adoption programs these days. We were ready to adopt a mixed Weimaraner, but we were refused because we refused to let it live indoors. Now, I could understand the concern about heat outside in my part of world, but we have a VERY large shaded patio and much shade tress in our large backyard, and all the necessary retreats from the weather. But they said unless we guaranteed the dog full-time indoor climate control, we were not allowed to adopt. We were flabbergasted...

Excuse my denseness, but I guess the millennia that dogs lived and hunted outside apparently has been rescinded. Apparently to them, only in the last century since air conditioning was invented has it been decided that apparently dogs cannot properly survive and be happy unless they are fully climate controlled per human standards.

I am curious. Is that folly, animal shelter volunteer poster? That needless adoption rule seems anthropomorphism writ large...and I wonder how many strays won't get adopted because of such rules?

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | November 17, 2006 11:56 AM

Thanks for the response Scarry. Not sure how you get a dog to stop sniffing - they live to sniff. Plus - if there is a diaper nearby the sniffing goes into overdrive. Even the Dog Whisperer answered the question "how do I get my dog to stop sniffing people, especially in the crotch?" with "You can't stop them. It is their nature to smell, particularly the crotch, which basically is who you are." Which I found to be pretty funny.

However, to respond to the anonymous poster - who I think posts 10-20 times a day on different sides of the issue just to be irritating - you wrote:

"Sounds like you need to train your dog to be more respectful of kids. Bet that dog will bite a kid sooner or later. Get off your high horse about all children needing to be trained to deal with dogs, and start being a responsible owner.

Posted by: To CMAC | November 17, 2006 10:38 AM"

Obviously you don't know much about children or dogs. I trained my dog not to jump, not to run out the door when the doorbell rings. He sits by my side - usually panting because he wants to go out. If the same kid keeps yelling at the dog as soon as I open the door - I am going to correct her. If the dog wasn't trained she would be bit. I repeatedly told this little girl that she can't scream at dogs - particularly high-pitched squeals - which little girls have - because it makes them jumpy and nervous. It's not my fault her mother is putting her kid at risk.

As for my idiot neighbor with the 2 year - he is just an idiot. He knew we had a dog - he even knows the dog - and his child was in no danger. I offered to take the dog upstairs to which he replied that he wanted to beat the dog. Should I say - "Please, beat my dog for sniffing - he is SO RUDE!"

Why not identify yourself? Are you the annoying multiple poster?

Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 11:56 AM

To 10:28 -

Thank you for your take on this. "Training" kids IS important- I am certainly trying to teach my own daughter how to approach dogs safely. Although, I have to say that my daughter in just shy of 3 years old, and whatever "training" I've given her sometimes falls to the wayside when she gets really excited (in a group of kids, or at the park).

All I'm saying is that folks who have an agressive dog in the house (whether undergoing "agression training" or not) might think twice or at least alert other parents before offering to host a play-date full of five year olds.


Posted by: Silver Spring | November 17, 2006 11:57 AM

Regarding the comments equating training animals with training children, I couldn't agree more!! Before I had children, I trained horses. I can't tell you how many times I used horse training techniques with my children. Immediate correction contected to the infraction, reward proper response both verbally and physically, set clear and obtainable objectives, break complex lessons down into doable subsets, be patient, . . .watch where you step!

But seriously, though there are obvious and important differences between the training of children and animals, there are more paralles than you'd think.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 11:58 AM

Hey Bob,

Are you more upset about the fact that your co-worker took three days off to care for an animal or the fact that your LESBIAN co-worker took three days off to care for an animal.

Seems to me you hate animals, their owners, and anyone who takes the time to care for another creature after SURGERY. Get off your high-horse and care about something other than yourself.

Posted by: Hey BigotBob | November 17, 2006 11:59 AM

TEXAS DAD I TOTALLY agree. My mother, father and sister have gone nuts with dogs and keep getting more, 11 dogs for my sister, 3 dogs for my mom and dad and now 5 cows who they name and buy things for. My sister's house is completely destroyed inside and she won't let anyone in. They tell stories about all these animals and my in laws and me just stare blankly at them. I think it is a disease or emotional problem. They weren't like this when I grew up. I am not making this up either.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 17, 2006 12:01 PM

Altmom, that's awesome. I love the stories from you and marc and others about the dogs and kids - my son LOVES dogs (our neighbors' and friends'), but my husband is definitely not a dog person (I'm somewhere in the middle), so we shall see how it pans out in the end. I suspect when he's old enough to form the thought we'll be bombarded with constant requests for dogs.

On training, I do think it's important for both dogs and kids to be trained. When my son is around my friend's great danes, it takes a lot of supervision, especially with the blind one who really has no idea what to make of little kids. We've made a lot of progress in getting them used to each other since we moved out here though, and it's fun to see them interact.

Posted by: Megan | November 17, 2006 12:04 PM

To the people who get upset when someone asks why you need time off, you don't need to get descriptive (for example, "my neighbor's cousin's lesbian dog is sick", or "my child has a fungus between his toes") -- just say "personal reasons". Your time off is your time off, and unless you are leave without pay, I don't think you need to get into why. I don't ask my employees if they don't offer a reason.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 17, 2006 12:05 PM

to atl mom, your point is well taken. I feel the need to qualify many comments on this board though, because of the snap judgments some make about "lawyers". I don't fit whatever stereotype they have in their minds, and try to head off some of the obnxiousness for my blood pressure as well as other readers who don't enjoy reading the bile.

WARNING: RAMBLE AHEAD
I feel fortunate, and blessed, on a daily basis that I met my husband, that we were able to put into action our plan for me to attend law school, that I was able to achieve the grades and the qualifications (with the help of super-supportive spouse and then-2 year old son) to obtain a job offer with a fair employer and with colleagues most of whom I like and respect. In the past I worked in retail, in restaurants, at a whole host of jobs where I was treated with substantially less respect, but I am the same person now that I was then. When I lived in DC in my 20s, many single guys would seek to meet and converse with me, then quickly exit, when they determined that either my income did not make me a suitable life partner, or perhaps they deemed I wasn't as smart as my peers with "prestigious" jobs. As a result, I'm not fond of those who assume SAHMs lack intelligence, or, in the alternative, assume that all female lawyers are wealthy careerists with nannies raising their children. Sheesh.

We are healthy, our kids are healthy, our dogs are healthy, and we can take care of ourselves. Don't you feel lucky, blessed or fortunate many days? Certainly, the Lord helps those who help themselves, have a good work ethic, and persevere, but so many things over which we have no control can decimate the best laid plans. Sorry for waxing philosophical.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 12:06 PM

heh, maybe Bob is stewing because he missed the girlie action. all guys love it!!

Posted by: LesbianLover | November 17, 2006 12:06 PM

Texas dad of 2 //We were ready to adopt a mixed Weimaraner, but we were refused because we refused to let it live indoors//

Yeah, I saw that question too and just lied. How are they going to find out - ask the dog? Anyway, I got caught with the "toy" question. By then my blood was boiling and i was ready to kick any dog in sight. :) just kidding!! :)

I'll go the adopt-a-stray route. Grab the lost dogs. Either you get to keep it or get a reward. Also, you'll be saving them from a potential road accident.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 12:07 PM

He should be able to go to a park without having to put up with people's dogs humping his legs. If you don't want kids to go to fancy places, then keep your dogs on a leash at public parks. Respect goes both ways.

Posted by: what did bob do wrong? | November 17, 2006 12:09 PM

Bob, I hope you're using a bit of hyperbole here - and that you're not actually upset that the partner's dog's surgery was a reason for using leave. Is it the lesbian thing? The dog thing?

We are given leave for a reason - to use it when we need it. If it's a couple of hours for a kid's play or a couple of days for a family emergency, doesn't matter - it's our time to take. If your manager has an issue, that's their issue - but it's certainly not the fault of those that choose to use their time.

BTW, thanks to the draconian laws in this country about same-sex parenting, I know several couples that cannot have kids (either due to being two men with no uterus to carry one, or two women that have medical conditions that preclude pregnancy) that have dogs or cats that are as close to kids as they can come. Can't adopt, can't foster, can't afford out of country adoptions even if they could have them sanctioned once they got back to the U.S. Keep that in mind next time, won't you?

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | November 17, 2006 12:09 PM

I don't have kids and don't especially like kids. Kids put kittens in microwaves and stomp them to death,etc. While it's true that animals kill each other and attack humans, they don't have the capacity to understand what they are doing. Humans do horrible hideous things to each other and to animals even though they do understand what they are doing. So I don't see the intrinsic superiority of humans. I would say that most (not all) human relationships are intellectually or sexually based, and relationships with animals can feel more truly loving.

Posted by: Bluebird | November 17, 2006 12:09 PM

No double-girlie action. I'm a straight meat-and-potatoes man.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 12:13 PM

You are welcome to be report every violation, etc.

BUT you can expect to be liked as much as a childless person who shows has a no tolerance for children who misbehave in public... who never off to pick up any slack or open a door for parents... who get mad at parents who don't return carts in the grocery store... who glare at children that make noise in church...

petty jerks are petty jerks whatever the topic

Posted by: To Bob | November 17, 2006 12:15 PM

Bluebird,
Animals don't love. Love is a human emotion and though animals certainly have emotions, "love" as we understand the word is limited to humans. You also overlook the fact that ALL relationships are motivated by personal need/desire, whether animal or human. Animals can not be "selfless" because, as you acknowledge, they don't have the capacity to understand teh complex concepts that entails. Also, animals do display gratuitous cruelty. Basically, if you suggest that animal relationships with each other and humans aren't driven by selfish interests, you betray a gross misunderstanding of animal behavior and psycholgy.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 12:15 PM

I understand BOB if you are part of the PC protected class, the pearly gates are opened wide for anything for fear of discrimination suits, but for the rest of us normal joes it's a hassle because we are not expected buck up. Life in PC America. Of course any objection and the PC police will brand you a bigot. Yawn

Posted by: pATRICK | November 17, 2006 12:15 PM

Ten bucks says Bob is a Republican.

Posted by: Dem | November 17, 2006 12:15 PM

Texas dad of 2 and others.

My sister is a dog and cat collector, that's fine i grew up with a mom who did the same thing. Except my mom found them homes, my sister keeps them. She has three huge dogs in the house and 6 beagles/coon dogs outside. Not to mention the 100 or so cats running around (Just kidding)

Anyway, her one dog is really mean; he bit me once just for walking in the door. He lunged for my neck, I turned and he bit me in the back, broke my bra (not an easy thing to do) :) So, I thought he was a goner for sure, but nope, my sister still has him. Says she feels sorry for him. I can't let my daughter go to her house for this reason, which makes her upset, but oh well.

Posted by: scarry | November 17, 2006 12:16 PM

bluebird //relationships with animals can feel more truly loving//

Now what sort of "relationship" are you talking about here? please, not the kind of love that the humping dog felt for me.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 12:17 PM

most rescue organizations are not interested in releasing pets (who have already either been surrendered by owners or otherwise suffered through a bad time being separated from what they thought was their forever-family) to owners who do not intend to incorporate the pet into the family. The outdoor pet/ indoor pet question is well-supported by research as an indicator of whether the owner will be a forever-owner providing proper socialization and training, or not. Outdoor dogs often do not get the socialization, training time, and, frankly, are not a priority to their owners. These dogs often end up as owner-surrenders, dead, abused, or in another rescue organization. The rescue organizations who invest way more $$ then they get in adoption fees, are better off waiting for an applicant that will do right by the dog, than having the dog adopted by either of you or any other person who intends for the dog to primarily reside outside. Crate training is just not that hard, folks.

and you can lie on the form, but most organizations do a home study, and are used to lying applicants.

Posted by: to Mongrel and Texas Dad of 2 | November 17, 2006 12:18 PM

Kids put kittens in microwaves and stomp them to death,etc

Yep, all kids do this, it is a morning ritual at my house.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 12:19 PM

BUT you can expect to be liked as much as a childless person who shows has a no tolerance for children who misbehave in public... who never off to pick up any slack or open a door for parents... who get mad at parents who don't return carts in the grocery store... who glare at children that make noise in church...

petty jerks are petty jerks whatever the topic


me thinks that a kid doing the above things cannot hurt an adult, but a big dog, knocking over, biting, jumping on a small child in a park made for humans can hurt the child. Your argument is weak.

Posted by: stupid post of the day | November 17, 2006 12:23 PM

Yeah, that's why I have given up on adopting through these rescue organizations. Growing up in the 3rd world, I just can't bring myself to treat pets so darn nice when there are millions of kids there living in much more terrible conditions. I figure just giving 3 square, a roof and a loving home to a pound dog oughtta be enough. But no, these shelters they make me feel like such a terrible master. I just don't fit their psychological profile. So like I said, I'm just gonna rescue the roadside strays and take em in.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 12:26 PM

"The law, however, is not equally confused. The law places the burden squarely on the pet owner."

Not necessarily. From personal experience, if a child or other person ignores warnings about the dog and gets bit, no action will be taken. At least in Anne Arundel County.

And come on, it's not that hard to teach a child not to touch an animal while they're eating. I learned it at 2 years old.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 12:26 PM

" And yes, I'd give my life for theirs."

Oh, come ON!!!! You would not. That's just ridiculous.

Scenario 1: Burglar comes into your home. Points a gun at your cat. You step in and say "please don't kill him, kill me instead!!"

Scenario 2: You're in a burning building with your cat. Firefighter comes in and says "I can only carry one of you." You say "take him, I'll just burn to death."

Scenario 3: Your cat has cancer. You pray to God that if he would just heal your cat, that you would gladly be stricken with incurable cancer yourself. God grants your wish, and you're happy about it.

GIVE ME A BREAK.

And if there are actual people who love you, maybe you should ask them before you actually follow through on any of the above scenarios.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 12:27 PM

so if a kid is walking by a pitt bull and the owner says don't touch my dog, but the kid touches the dog anyway and the dog rips the kids face off no action will be taken?

Posted by: ? | November 17, 2006 12:29 PM

aw come on, Bob! you know you have a "special" stash of it somewhere on your computer or deep in the basement where the wifey won't find it. all men do.

Posted by: LesbianLover | November 17, 2006 12:29 PM

My mom and I always have this conversation about how much Americans love their pets. We find it quite strange and would always joke that American love their pets more than their children, and their parents.

Now as an adult I can see some of the reasons why the pet craze is such a prominent U.S. phenomena that does occur in much of the rest of the world. I think the main reason is that in American culture, people do not have strong social ties with family and friends. Americans stress the ideals of independence, individuality and achievement to the point of weakening ties with their families and communities and creating a lot of lonlieness and isolation in their lives. Many other cultures are not like that. Compared to our American neighbors who have friends and/or family over Thanksgiving, Christmas, or for the occassional summer BBQ or birthday party, our house is always full of family and friends. It's a lonely life for many Americans and pets fill that void and fulfill the basic human need to love and connect...since it's not with humans, then it must be with animals.

Btw Leslie, your question that "Are Americans somehow better nurturers, superior protectors of the helpless, more loving and affectionate?" is absolutely ridiculous and make no sense.

Posted by: child of immigrants | November 17, 2006 12:30 PM

12:26 PM wrote "From personal experience, if a child or other person ignores warnings about the dog and gets bit, no action will be taken. At least in Anne Arundel County."

The civil law in all common law jurisdictions is ancient, clear and well settled. All modern penal codes embody and confirm the common law principle that the animal owner is liable, particularly where they knew of a propensity of aggression. That is not to say that person can not be comparitively negligent. But the legal burden is still squarely on the animal owner.

Thus, just because no action was taken does not mean the law absolved the animal owner. It just means that the authorities, in exercising their prosecutorial discretion, chose not to do anything.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | November 17, 2006 12:32 PM

i have two cats and no kids. there is no way that my cats are nearly as important and anyone's kids should be to them. are you kidding me? my cats are great companions, they're a great excuse to talk to myself, it's nice to have something else wandering around the house and are an integral part of my day. but let's face it, i can leave the house and leave them alone all day long with little to no preparation. no one is going to call animal control on me if i yell at them or knock them off the bed in the middle of the night. and if i do these things, they forgive me, and curl up next to me 15 minutes later (or after the next time i feed them). anyone who thinks that their pets are as important as children is either seriously undervaluing children or needs to get some perspective.

Posted by: elizz | November 17, 2006 12:32 PM

child of immigrants, one of the bests posts today! couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 12:34 PM

Texas Dad of 2

As a former altar boy, you may understand that some people follow the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi concerning animals and the environment.

Posted by: Luke | November 17, 2006 12:40 PM

>

No, I'm not ?. Dogs will fight off your attacker, they'll fight off other animals (dogs, bears) who attack you, they will come get you/wake you if you're house is on fire, and so on. If I'm mistaken, then Animal Planet has a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Posted by: ilc | November 17, 2006 12:40 PM

"My husband and I jokingly say that the pet wars, Mommy wars, the "I'm more professional than you are" wars started with the "baby on board" signs of the 1980s...the great shot fired at the car behind saying "my cargo's more important than your cargo"."

i completely agree with this. "my cargo's more important than your cargo and therefore you should act differently"

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 12:41 PM

>

No, I'm not ?. Dogs will fight off your attacker, they'll fight off other animals (dogs, bears) who attack you, they will come get you/wake you if you're house is on fire, and so on. If I'm mistaken, then Animal Planet has a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Posted by: ilc | November 17, 2006 12:41 PM

To TO CMAC and the rest of you who think it's only the dog owners responsibility, you should see the kids my poor dog has had to put up with! When we're out walking he's had kids run up to him and pull his tail or put fingers in his eyes--all before I have a chance to step in and stop them AND within sight of their parents. They're lucky that my dog is very tolerant and would never hurt them. Then I have to do what the parent obviously hasn't done--teach them the proper way to approach a strange dog.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 17, 2006 12:41 PM

>

No, I'm not ?. Dogs will fight off your attacker, they'll fight off other animals (dogs, bears) who attack you, they will come get you/wake you if you're house is on fire, and so on. If I'm mistaken, then Animal Planet has a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Posted by: ilc | November 17, 2006 12:41 PM

Wow, a lot of people here who should NEVER have pets! My kids know that the cats come first, dogs second and the kids third. I just like cats. The dogs are great companions and never talk back to me and they never have homework. Whatever else is going on in my life the dogs make me laugh. Can't say the same for the kids.

There's a book out on happiness, "Stumbling on Happiness". It's supposed to talk about scientific studies on happiness. I read that it says that studies say that people rate their happiness level while being with their children as about the same as their happiness level when they're doing housework. I'm sure dogs rate higher than that!

Whatever conflicts and disagreements we have as human family members, we all love our pets. Sometimes that actually helps us resolve the conflicts. Just try to stay mad when you've got the dogs at the beach.

I meet new people at the dog park regularly. It's when they realize they've had enough children but they still want another baby to love. I'll take these people over the ones who don't understand "pet love" any day.

Posted by: pet lover | November 17, 2006 12:42 PM

Dog owners have now stole the crown from the smokers for being the rudest people on the soccer field. For one thing, they completely ignore the "No Dogs Allowed" signs posted all around the school grounds. Then they get all upset when a child comes up to pet their dangerous animal and scold the kid for doing so. Just last week, a woman brought her newly aquired dog to the soccer field so it could "watch" the game. The dog growled and barked at another dog across the field nonstop as its owner not only verbally threatened to take it back to the car over a dozen times, but tried to rationalize with it as if the dog understood English. After the game was over, the dog left its business in the grass right next to the parking lot. Ruined the game.

I would rather someone light up a cigarette right next to me and blow the smoke in my face.

Posted by: Kick Me | November 17, 2006 12:42 PM

To NC Lawyer:

You sound right on. Of course, we are all blessed in our own ways, and I hope it was clear that I indicated that while you are fortunate with some things - you got where you are because of you.
Like - when I tell people: oh, yeah, DH got up in the middle of the night to feed/take care of/whatever/ for the little ones, they say: oh, you're so lucky! My DSpouse would NEVER do that! And I say: nope, not luck at all. I wouldn't have married him if he didn't have the qualities I wanted in a spouse. Better off without someone than someone I am going to complain about.
okay, I'll probably always find something to complain about (little whiskers in the sink) but the biggies (how he treats other people/pets/kids/etc) were something I would never compromise on. So it's not luck at all. It's having my priorities in the right place.
We are SO way off topic, but even so - it definitely irks me when people spend their time complaining about their spouse - as in WHO THEY ARE. I mean, really, you KNEW that when you married them that they would/wouldn't do XYZ. Stop complaining about it.
Maybe some people believe that's the way a marriage is supposed to be - but if I was going to spend so much time with someone, I was going to find someone who I *didn't* want to complain about.
In any event, yes, I am fortunate for much in my life, but much of what I have is because of me.
And, no, I don't think you have a fortune because you are a lawyer. I just know that you have to have an undergraduate degree, and a law degree, and you have passed at least one bar exam. That's a big committment, from my end, and you did that somehow (yes, with help from spouse, others, probably - but you did it).

Posted by: atlmom | November 17, 2006 12:44 PM

Raysmom

You are so right. People should teach their children to ask if they can nicely pet your dog. If you say know, they should understand. It's also a good idea to not teach you kid to pet animals you don't know. It won't matter whose fault it is if you kid gets bit.

Posted by: scarry | November 17, 2006 12:44 PM

Of course children should be taught not to approach strange dogs. But if you invite a child into your home, you should make your home safe for children. Medicine should be put away. Guns should be locked up. Dogs who bite without warning (provoked or not) should be kept in their crates or another room away from your guests.

I didn't grow up with dogs. We have a very good dog who is fine with being touched while eating. It never would have occurred to me to tolerate anything else. Just like people have different expectations for what their kids should be able to handle (missing naps, eating late, etc...), people have different expectations for their dogs. Even if you think its reasonable for your dog to snap at people who approach at the wrong time or in the wrong way, you cannot expect me to know what your expectations are and convey them to my children.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | November 17, 2006 12:46 PM

I HATE those stupid Baby on Board signs, but to be fair, the signs are helpful to emergency personnel in accidents, etc.

The Baby under Construction shirts should be burned in a sky high bonfire!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 12:47 PM

"Just try to stay mad when you've got the dogs at the beach."

You obviously weren't there when my husband was at one of his all-time mad highs when the dog got a dead seagull and proceeded to start eating it and flinging feathers and dead bird all over the place.

Kick me - I agree, what is up with the people who think the "no dogs allowed on school grounds" sign only applies to other people? It doesn't say "no dogs over 50 lbs" or "no dogs over 1 year old" - it says "NO DOGS"!

Posted by: catsarebetterthandogs | November 17, 2006 12:50 PM

to stupid post of the day:
How about this arguement for teaching children how to properly interact with dogs. I'm sure you'll see it's validity.
Say you and your child are visiting a home where they do NOT have huge dogs. They have tiny, hairless, delicately built ones.
Your child is too rough or does something where the creature is injured and therefore there are vet bills (with a dog like that, it wouldn't take much). Big ones.
You could be sued for that since it was your child that caused the injury. Because dogs are legally considered property, they'd be in as much right as they would if your kid broke something inanimate but expensive in their home (which kids, being kids, happens).
I don't own tiny delicate hairless dogs, but I thought they would help illustrate my point since it's usually easier to imagine something like that being hurt.

Posted by: Practical dog owner | November 17, 2006 12:50 PM

To Raysmom,

I have the same problem! Most kids, even some over the age of 10, do not know how to act around strange dogs, or they feel since they have a dog at home, they can treat my dog as if she was their dog. They will come up to my dog, don't ask first if they can pet her, grab her ears, poke her in the eye, I even had one little girl stick her hand directly into my dog's mouth! Thankfully, even though she did not grow up around children, she is good with them and knows how to behave.

Parents and adults often don't know how to approach dogs and therefore can't teach their children. Adults often will try and pet her without letting her sniff their hand first, will touch her from behind when she isn't prepared, or make a sudden motion towards her. This type of behavior towards a dog may result in a bite if the dog is fearful or unprepared, which is not the dog's fault. Always ask an owner first before you try and pet a strange dog, and always let the dog smell your hand before you touch it. It's the polite thing to do in dog society!

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 12:51 PM

So there's this book out that my husband got that really is great, and I can't remember the title but it equates parenting with training pets, and how they are similar in some ways.
It is AWESOME. I truly mean it. If only I could remember what it was called.
Been searching amazon, but can't find it!

Posted by: atlmom | November 17, 2006 12:51 PM


"me thinks that a kid doing the above things cannot hurt an adult, but a big dog, knocking over, biting, jumping on a small child in a park made for humans can hurt the child. Your argument is weak."

I've seen plenty of adults, and other kids, get hurt by a misbehaving child. A kid zipping along on those stupid roller skate shoes slammed into my daughter--both were hurt. I've also had misbehaving kids slam into me with a shopping cart, which hurt plenty. Also, what of misbehaving kids running into traffic? Kids have to learn to behave as much as dogs do because it would be a much bigger loss if they hurt themselkves than if a dog hurt itself. Both untrained kids and dogs can be menaces.

Posted by: bam | November 17, 2006 12:53 PM

Here's a view from a shelter volunteer on why we ask so many questions.

Why? Because we have seen or heard of abuse that would make your stomach turn. We've had people set cats on fire. While alive. We've had people sponsor dogfights, and then try to get their animals back. We've had dogs with collars embedded in their throats so badly that all you can see is the buckle. We've seen animals left outside and ignored for so long that they're skin and bones. We've also seen more mundane things - people giving up animals because they're moving. (To that mythical state that doesn't allow animals, I suppose....) People giving up a kitten because "it was too active." It's a KITTEN, forcryingoutloud.

After seeing all of this, we only want to adopt an animal out if it will be forever. That's why we ask you to fill out questionnaires. That's why we require your current vet's name to check on how your animals are treated. That's why I tell our staff members about when people "joke" about beating a dog or cat. It's not funny to us, and it never will be.

As for the outside issue....in my county, cats aren't allowed outside if not on a leash. Period. We will not adopt a cat out if you tell us it will be outside. As for dogs...I can see both sides. As a previous poster said, we want to make sure the dog wil be a part of the family. If you know that the dog will be a family member and can tell us that in the interview, I would think the adoption would be approved.

Posted by: To Mongrel and Texas Dad | November 17, 2006 12:53 PM

my child has fur, //and always let the dog smell your hand before you touch it. It's the polite thing to do in dog society!//

it has always been my experience that the first part of the body the dog smells is not my hand.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 12:53 PM

I also want to point out that some of the people that claim to be the best animal lovers in the world are also the ones who subject their own pets to what amounts to severe torture in the last few months of their pets life. I've seen cats and dogs in miserable conditions with festering sores, cancer and suffering beyond belief just because the owner refuses to put it down.

Drowning the poor thing would be much more humane, but you don't say anything because they like to call it love.

Posted by: Kick Me | November 17, 2006 12:55 PM

BUT you can expect to be liked as much as a childless person who shows has a no tolerance for children who misbehave in public... who never off to pick up any slack or open a door for parents... who get mad at parents who don't return carts in the grocery store... who glare at children that make noise in church...

petty jerks are petty jerks whatever the topic


me thinks that a kid doing the above things cannot hurt an adult, but a big dog, knocking over, biting, jumping on a small child in a park made for humans can hurt the child. Your argument is weak.

We are not talking about people's houses we are talking about dogs in a park meant for people. Bob help me out here!


Posted by: are you stupid | November 17, 2006 12:55 PM

"so if a kid is walking by a pitt bull and the owner says don't touch my dog, but the kid touches the dog anyway and the dog rips the kids face off no action will be taken?"

Yes, action would probably be taken in that case, but I personally would yell at the kid too. If I tell you not to touch my dog, there's usually a reason.

My case was a kid coming over and when I told him don't open the door until I put the dog in her crate, and he opened the door anyway and got bit. There was an investigation and no action was taken.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 12:56 PM

to Bob, well, there's something to be gained from providing your hand and blocking your crotch . . . :>)

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 12:56 PM

"And come on, it's not that hard to teach a child not to touch an animal while they're eating. I learned it at 2 years old."

That's true. But also bear in mind that animal rescue groups like SPCAs do socialization tests on dogs, which include moving a food bowl away from a dog who is eating to gauge the reaction. They use fake hands. The reaction is an indicator of socialization and helps determine whether the dog will be good around kids. (see what you learn when you watch "Animal Cops"?)

Let's face it -- some kids are impulsive, some don't know better, some may be taught and forget or don't apply the knowledge. You can't just expect a child to know how to approach a dog (or cat). As the animal owner, I'm responsible. If I don't socialize my dog, I do him, anyone's kids and myself a disservice.


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 17, 2006 12:56 PM

"I'm with you. Parents certainly need to teach their children to be mindful/respectful of unfamiliar pets. However, I have seen many instances where a child reasonably attempts to pet or otherwise interact with a dog and the dog has reacted defensively/aggresively."

Please teach your children that part of being mindful and respectful of unfamiliar pets is asing the owner if the dog is safe to pet. No owner to ask? Don't pet the dog. My dogs are fine with older children but don't like the jerky movements of toddlers.

Posted by: Philip | November 17, 2006 12:57 PM

Hasn't there ever been an incident where a child running, etc. in a place where they shouldn't have been has resulted in someone elderly getting knocked over and seriously injured?

I will grant you it is more likely with dogs - but in generally I think
(1) both rude parents and rude dog owners are rude
(2) People who stereotype an entire group on the basis of a few incidents (with the minority of rude ones) are not right - even if they were right in those incidents

I would be interested in knowing if there is a correlation b/w bad pet owners and bad parents.

Posted by: devil's advocate | November 17, 2006 12:58 PM

Absolutely right, Child of
Immigrants. Growing up in a raucous family of 4 kids in the 1960s, we did not have pets. But plenty of other neighbors did. I think my parents felt we got enough pets and animals at the neighbors and my parents did enough "animal training" with their kids. I've never had pets either, and now travel for business, and find that sometimes I feel guilty leaving my houseplants alone when I go out of town. The loneliness factor is huge in all of this, I think, and it's got to be nicer/neater/easier to anthropomorphize a dog or cat and give them all the attention and lovin' you won't and can't get from or give another human being.
A dog or cat just sits there and eats it all up. They don't talk back, they don't hog the remote, they can be taught to obey some of your imperial commands. What's not to like about that kind of, eh, situation? (I hesitate to call it a relationship...)

Posted by: SF Mom | November 17, 2006 1:01 PM

""Just try to stay mad when you've got the dogs at the beach.""

"You obviously weren't there when my husband was at one of his all-time mad highs when the dog got a dead seagull and proceeded to start eating it and flinging feathers and dead bird all over the place."

My husband wouldn't get mad at something like this, though he would put a stop to it. It's the sort of thing that would send both of my kids into peals of laughter.

Posted by: pet lover | November 17, 2006 1:02 PM

//BUT you can expect to be liked as much as a childless person who shows has a no tolerance for children who misbehave ...
We are not talking about people's houses we are talking about dogs in a park meant for people. Bob help me out here! //

the original poster was so far off comparing childless people to dogs running loose in a park that i chose to ignore it.

same for the LesbianLover. As I said, I'm meat-and-potatoes, straight up. The girlie action I do not understand and am glad I don't.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 1:02 PM

I think Bob has some Republican-related repression issues. He also has clearly never had a relationship with an animal that didn't involve humping. Bob, I hope you one day encounter a dog that does not have amorous intentions towards your leg, and can love you for YOU.

Posted by: Hey BigotBob | November 17, 2006 1:03 PM

First off, have the guts to sign a name for snotty comments (makes it easier for the rest of us to jump down your case).

Secondly, this is easy:

Scenario 2: You're in a burning building with your cat. Firefighter comes in and says "I can only carry one of you." You say "take him, I'll just burn to death."

Answer: You're obviously cognizant, so you tell the firefighter to carry you, and you'll carry the cat. Everyone's happy.

Posted by: ilc | November 17, 2006 1:03 PM

Yes, action would probably be taken in that case, but I personally would yell at the kid too. If I tell you not to touch my dog, there's usually a reason.

My case was a kid coming over and when I told him don't open the door until I put the dog in her crate, and he opened the door anyway and got bit. There was an investigation and no action was taken.

If you have a dog that bites a kid just for being in your house it is a menace to socity. What if it got out and bit someone?If you have a dog that bites a kid just for being in your house it is a menace to society. What if it got out and bit someone?

People with mean dogs seem to think that as long as they aren't mean to them it's okay. Well, tell that to the little girl where I live who was mauled by to pit bulls or the grandma who was eaten by them.

The city passed a law saying they couldn't have those kind of dogs in the city limits anymore, I for one am very happy.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 1:04 PM

same for the LesbianLover. As I said, I'm meat-and-potatoes, straight up. The girlie action I do not understand and am glad I don't.


ah! so it really was the fact that the person taking time off was lesbian! the plot thickens!!

Posted by: LesbianLover | November 17, 2006 1:05 PM

Bob,

If you don't get the girlie action, you have led a very, very sheltered life.

Don't you have porn stash?

Posted by: EJ | November 17, 2006 1:05 PM

OK, I have never met anyone who has human children and pets and considers their pets on equal standing. Yes, they love their pets. I think it is natural to love another living creature. But if it came down to lifesaving choices between a pet or their kid, the KID ALWAYS wins. Of course, most situations do not warrant making a drastic choice between pets and children. For one thing, I am definitely not an animal lover. I have no ill feelings towards the creatures. But have no desire to own one. I do find that a lot of childless and childfree people treat their pets like they are children. I find it very hard to believe that they think they are not replacements for real human children. They said their dogs to doggie day care, buy them Christmas presents, lavish affection, spends tons of money at VETS. Some of the vet treatment is necessary and some by choice. You can choose to put an animal out of its misery but it is still illegal to mercy kill a human being. And Kevin, get real. Dogs have killed people. They certainly have done illegal acts. Zoo animals have killed an maimed people. Now, we can't hold an animal responsible in the same way we do humans because they do not have the mental capacity to realize what they did. In some situations, the animals were provoked. As far as pit bulls are concerned, I really wished people would stop breeding the violent creatures. Overall, what really kills me is bad pet owners. Now we are probably preaching to the choir here. But there are some really bad pet owners. You all know who I am talking to, the ones that let their dogs crap all over public property, other people's property, don't give the proper medical care they need, allow them to bark at all hours, leave them in the rain, ignore them, and in the worst case scenario-actually abuse them. For this, I wish we could fine them or even charge them. I am no pet lover but I am appalled by the treatment of some animals. But to even consider that animals are equal to humans is ridiculous. If someone really equates their cat or dog to their child, they really should have never become parents in the first place.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 17, 2006 1:07 PM

st rescue organizations are not interested in releasing pets to owners who do not intend to incorporate the pet into the family." "Outdoor dogs often do not get the socialization, training time, and, frankly, are not a priority to their owners."

So be it. We raised many dogs who were well cared for and part of the family, and are conscientious about their interaction level with us. Does it seem odd to anyone that just a generation or two ago, most dogs were handled mostly outside? Why the sudden change, except for our human viewpoint on the matter? Has something new to this last generation of dogs cared for by humans changed the equation?

Is personally find the reasoning massively lacking, and it prevented this dog from being placed with an otherwise loving home with two kids and their parents that would have greatly enjoyed him. We ended up adopting from a pound that puts unwanted animals to sleep. Not unsurprisingly, city animal facilities forced to put down strays after a limited time if an owner is not found find themselves much less picky about inside/outside requirement groupthink. Maybe the new enlightenment for animals NATURE built to live outside being required to live inside (to have a fulfilled life) hasn't filtered down there yet.

If you want to talk about cruelty and were the rubber meets the road, animal adopters might want to spend more time and energy helping those dogs that get put down than worrying about air conditioning for the minority they service. I'd suggest that if you feel called to do God's work and help out, do it smarter and have more effect. Just MHO.

"and you can lie on the form, but most organizations do a home study, and are used to lying applicants."

We were ready to show them the large covered patio and shaded areas, let them do home study and all the rest, but they weren't interested. Air conditioning was a gatekeeper requirement.

Frankly, I find that bizarre...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | November 17, 2006 1:07 PM

"People who abuse animals often don't stop there."

I agree %100 with that statement.

I have 2 dogs, and they are my kids. I love them very much. I don't see that changing when I have a baby. In fact, I hope to share and tach my baby how to love and respect all animals.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 1:09 PM

I think it goes a long way to speak up when you can--it would be nice if every parent and every pet owner was attentive and had well-trained their child or pet, but that's not reality. When did we become so afraid of children and other people? If a child approaches our dog in an unsafe way, I stop them and I try to teach them how to approach animals. We have the most harmless dog in the world (he's a 12lb. Shih Tzu), but it's still a chance for them to learn and for me to reinforce good behavior in the child and the dog. Same thing on the playground or in a restaurant--I don't care if it upsets another parent; if a child is doing something dangerous (throwing rocks, abusing animals or other children, putting themselves in harm's way, etc.) I ask them to stop (it doesn't have to be a command or authoritative--if you ask a child what they are doing, they usually know it's something they're not supposed to be doing, and they stop just for having been caught, especially by a stranger). Same with the animal if it's a safe situation where you can calm the animal or return it to control. And I like when others do this to my dog or child--it's not often, but there are occasions where they're doing something I can't see or isn't safe and I'm grateful when someone else notices. It's like we're losing any sort of collective mentality in this society. Yeah, people should work hard and do the best they can, but it doesn't hurt to help one another out, nor to add a guiding hand to pets and children. I probably sound pretty holier-than-thou in this post, but it drives me nuts when people don't speak up when it could make a world of difference. Sometimes it doesn't: We were at the mall one day in the candy store and this child was picking hard candies out of the bins, sticking them in his mouth, and then putting them back in the bins while his mom chatted obliviously on her phone. My wife, said, "Oh, honey, don't do that." The other mom said: "F you, B&*ch!", snatched her child by the hand, and stormed out. Was it Sartre who said "hell is other people"?

Posted by: marc | November 17, 2006 1:11 PM

my child has fur, //and always let the dog smell your hand before you touch it. It's the polite thing to do in dog society!//

it has always been my experience that the first part of the body the dog smells is not my hand.

But Bob, frankly, crotch- and rear-sniffing are dog society things too. Dogs even sniff each other in the privates. I'm not saying to just stand there and let them do that, but the hand-sniffing should achieve the same effect and is less offensive and awkward. At least, IMHO.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 17, 2006 1:13 PM

"animals NATURE built to live outside"

...and we altered through our sicko fascination with controlling the breeding of other species

Sorry, Tx Dad of 2, these are no longer natural animals.

Posted by: Bless America | November 17, 2006 1:30 PM

I have a question: Why do some pet owners/lovers refer to their pets as their children or kids? Is it to convey to nonpet people the sense of how much the pets mean or that they are a substitute for children? I'm just curious.

We have 3 cats, one son, and a dog (acquired in that order). Admittedly, our animals got more attention before we became parents, but then so did the mop and vacumm cleaner.

Posted by: marc | November 17, 2006 1:32 PM

//But Bob, frankly, crotch- and rear-sniffing are dog society things too//

I aint comfortable with lettin any four-legged animal sniff me where the sun don't shine. And that applies to the two-legged variety too.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 1:33 PM

--If you want to talk about cruelty and were the rubber meets the road, animal adopters might want to spend more time and energy helping those dogs that get put down than worrying about air conditioning for the minority they service. I'd suggest that if you feel called to do God's work and help out, do it smarter and have more effect. Just MHO.--

Texas Dad of 2: where do you think that rescue groups get the dogs from that they are trying to place? We pull them from those overcrowded shelters so they don't get killed. The shelters may be less "picky" about who they adopt to, but I guarantee you that the shelter gets FAR more dogs returned to them than we do because the dog and person weren't carefully matched, and most shelters will not give a dog who was returned from an adoption another chance - they are deemed unadoptable or "problem" dogs and put down.

The bottom line for anyone who is in dog rescue for any length of time (and wants to stay sane) is that we know we cannot save every dog, so we try to do the best by every dog we can.

We can debate on how "natural" it is for dogs to live outside now, seeing as we humans have bred them to be much different than their ancestors who lived on their own, but it's also not "natural" for a dog to be spayed or neutered, but I can guarantee you won't find a rescue group that will allow a dog out of their charge that's NOT spayed or neutered. Why? We don't want more business - and that's why indoor living is a requirement (for my group as well). Our experience is that dogs that are kept outside are less likely to be treated/cared for as well, less likely to be considered part of the family and more likely to be dumped.

Note: I am not saying that you, Texas Dad of 2, are not a caring dog owner. I'm glad you saved the life of the dog you got from the pound.

DO4D

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | November 17, 2006 1:35 PM

Wow. Lots of emotion on this one. I love dogs and I love kids. Which is a more significant responsibility for the parent(s)? KIDS. hands down. Think about the effect on the animal/child of parenting - good and bad. Some day those KIDS are going to be independent adults, making their own mark on the world. Dogs are not, though they need to be trained to behave well if they interact in public. Love both, nurture both, teach and guide both. The stakes are much higher with KIDS.

Posted by: bajeane | November 17, 2006 1:35 PM

I find it sad and frustrating that so many posters lack a respect for animals. Most of you have bought into the myth that humans were placed on this planet to dominate and use animals as we see fit. We have a responsibility toward domesticated animals - they depend on us because humans have bred them to do so. Children are NOT superior to pets - just different. It seems that most of you without any desire to understand pets or to adopt pets are simply ignorant of their needs. Much of this discussion centers around what pets can provide humans, whether it is the so-called emotional void caused by a lack of children or "practice" for raising children. Animals are innocent creatures that need our support. It is highly irresponsible to adopt a pet for such selfish reasons. Pet "parents" must understand that the joy in having a pet is knowing that we are saving a life and giving a good home to an animal that may not have had one. I suspect that those who focus on their own needs also have children for selfish reasons - to fill void or perhaps, out of vanity.

Posted by: Stephanie | November 17, 2006 1:39 PM

Whoa Dad of 4 Dogs!!

A man after my own heart and the hearts of many other gal doglovers - are you available?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 1:40 PM

Bob & Texas Dad of 2

You two come across as heartless, miserly, anal jerks with endless stories to justify your cost/benefit atttitudes towards life. You probably should not be fathers if you are always looking at the bottom line.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 1:45 PM

Stephanie:

I have a lot of respect for all life, but if you honestly believe that "animals are innocent creatures that need our support", that sounds a lot like a superior attitude/relationship.

Most lasting pet-owner relationships seem to be mutually beneficial. The only thing they really need us for is protect them from ourselves or other humans most of the time.

Posted by: marc | November 17, 2006 1:46 PM

Stephanie, aren't some pets bred to be sold. In that way, how can you equate that to adoption of a human being. Pets are bought, sold, and sometimes (unfortunately) tossed away. The law certainly recognizes the rights of people over animals. Not to say that there is not inhumane treatment to animals. And the law has some jursidication over bad pet owners. But it is simply silly to actually say that they play the same role as human beings. I don't think people want to dominate animals. Think about all the pet owners who actually dote and lavish their pets. But to equate them as humans is to say silly things like pets should have a right to vote, a right to be educated by public dollars, the right to marry etc... You see how silly that sounds. Pets have much less influence, stake, or in put to the world we live in. No one is saying they are not living creatures and should be treated with dignity and respect. But for goodness sakes, fish are living creatures too. They are pets. Do you equate them the same as a gog. No, even in the animal world, there is a heirarchy of attachment and importance to the human world.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 17, 2006 1:48 PM

I meant to say dog not gog.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 17, 2006 1:50 PM

" I find it very hard to believe that they think they are not replacements for real human children. They said their dogs to doggie day care, buy them Christmas presents, lavish affection, spends tons of money at VETS. "

I've owned (ha!) ten cats and one dog in the thirty-five years I've been married and I never thought of them as my children or children substitutes. Dogs and cats have always been part of my family both as a child and adult. I knew I didn't want children as part of my family but the present cats are just that- cats.

People send their dogs to doggie daycare usually because they work and the dog will be alone in the house for nine or so hours with his legs crossed by late afternoon, if you get my drift. Also as pack animals, dogs enjoy the company of other dogs provided that they've been properly socialized.

The money spent on pets is no more obscene than the money spent on children in our society. Children don't need designer togs or strollers, every toy that is advertized on tv, etc. That materialism speaks more about the parents' priorities. My sister and her husband have two sons. Each kiddo has a bedroom filled to the brim with toys. They have a basement (1250 square feet) filled with toys. They can't get their SUVs in the three car garage because it's filled with kid junk. Talk about obscene.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | November 17, 2006 1:50 PM

"You probably should not be fathers if you are always looking at the bottom line."

Yeah well, the stupids are breeding!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 1:50 PM

Marc -

You raise a good point. I was referring to domesticated animals and I do believe that we have a responsibility to care for them. We also have a responsibility to care for our children. That does not necessarily create a superior/inferior relationship. I agree with your second paragraph and wish more people had such an understanding of pet-people relationships.

Posted by: Stephanie | November 17, 2006 1:52 PM

to anon at 1:40

Nope, not available -- I met my wife through my rescue group :-)

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | November 17, 2006 1:54 PM

Bob & Texas Dad of 2

You two come across as heartless, miserly, anal jerks with endless stories to justify your cost/benefit atttitudes towards life. You probably should not be fathers if you are always looking at the bottom line.

Hey Pycho putting a dog outside is not abuse as long as they are taken care of.

How dare you say texas dad of 2 or bob, for that matter shouldn't be parents just because you don't agree with how they feel about dogs.

Dogs are not kids by the way. Even though I like them very much and would never have one outside.

Posted by: scarry | November 17, 2006 1:54 PM

Think you have me mistaken with someone else. The only objection I have expressed towards dogs is not letting them run around loose in parks when laws and signs clearly state LEASH YOUR DOGS!

(And them sniffing my privates then humping leg).

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 2:01 PM

Megan -- yes yes yes! when we brought our third child home from the hospital our cat gave us a look of shock and horror like: good grief, not ANOTHER one!

Atl Mom -- Drives me crazy when people say you're "lucky" for something you worked hard for. I think too that women are especially prone to say "Oh, I'm just so fortunate" instead of owning the fact that we worked hard to achieve something (whether it's a good job or a good husband or polite kids). Thank you.

An Dliodoir -- Dogs do too LOVE. Whenever we've been away or even if my husband has been gone for a night on business, our dog groans and howls like whalesong in delight when we return. You can hear him a block away. If that's not love, it's better than love!

Finally -- doesn't this discussion in a weird way shed light on the debates between parents and childfree people, working and stay-at-home moms?

Different people are just DIFFERENT not necessarily better or worse.

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 2:06 PM

"Of course my kids come first. I do love my animals though. If someone doesn't have kids and their animals are "their kids" - they have deep, strong love for their animals. It serves no purpose preaching about how superior my kids (or humans in general) are to their dogs. I expect the same consideration from non-children people."

This was beautifully written. I applaud your compassion and understanding. Everyone says us child-free pet people will ignore our pets when we have kids, but I hope not. My cats are family to me. The older one can sense when I'm upset and will just get up close to me and look me in the eye, and I swear she has an expression of empathy on her face. It never fails, anytime I'm upset, even if I'm not crying or anything, she's there. My cats deserve the same attention they get now when I have kids...but lucky for me, they are cats, and pretty freakin' independent anyway. I know my limits, and that's why I don't have dogs. :-P

Posted by: Mona | November 17, 2006 2:08 PM

Texas Dad of 2 -

It is fine if you wouldn't treat your dog if it was ill with a long term illness - but it is a legitimate choice if we choose to do so.

My sister-in-law won't let her little girls around dogs because of an incident that happened to her when she was young. That is not teaching them how to react and deal with dogs if they would find themselves in a similar situation and is only perpetuating the fear. She will let them around little dogs but not my 75 lb dogs - completely irrational as smaller dogs are much more likely to bite, in general.

When we are out with our dogs and a little kid approaches to pet our dogs, I immediately step in between the dogs and the kids - the kid has to ask us and then I ask the kid to ask his/her parent first. That is as much as I can do to help kids learn how to behave around dogs when I don't know the people. No exceptions. I am protecting my dog as much as I am the kid.

If we choose to adopt, the dogs stay in the Christmas picture, period. No question. They will stay with me for their entire lives. I don't have to worry when they don't think enough to call - and they will always be around - its easy to hope that the kids will come home for the holidays, but I can't make them.

No matter what, we can't control everything that happens to our pets and to our kids - that is the scary part.

Clearly, there are people who think it is ridiculous to think that pets can be as important as kids. That's fine - it is the differing views on life that make this blog so interesting - but what I am asking is that those of you who feel this way should not belittle the way I feel about my dogs. I don't understand your feelings, but I am not trying to convince you that they are ridiculous - just don't get a pet.

By the way, if you all think Americans are nutty about the way we treat our pets, the 20 and 30 something Japanese are even more nutty - so much so that there are some who think that their pet obsession is contributing to the low/negative birth rate in that country. I know there are those of you who think that unless we are having tons of kids, we are shirking our duty, but let's not get off on that tangent again. It is not a fair argument to say that we should have kids for the economic benefit of the future - not a very good reason in any book that I know of.

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 2:10 PM

I am not sure about other jurisdictions but it is the law in MoCo that all dogs be leashed. There are some kids in the neighborhood who have a big sloppy Irish Setter who is rarely leashed. She is a very nice dog but she runs up to everyone and jumps and licks. I doubt she would bite but she could easily knock over a child or older person. My dog is always on a leash and it is very annoying to have this other dog deterring mine from doing his "duty" etc. I have told the kids on numerous occasions about the law and that the dog must be leashed but they don't seem to care. All they do now is put the leash on when they see me and my dog (I'm the mean lady of the 'hood). I don't do it just for me but for the other residents who have also been jumped on, licked and scared.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | November 17, 2006 2:11 PM

Yes, indeed, this discussion does echo the childfree vs. parent discussions.

I don't get the condescension some people feel free to dispense regarding people who love their pets. I have cats. I love them very much. And I'm not a neurotic, reclusive spinster lacking in family and friends, thank you!

Honestly, I believe there is plenty of love to go around for kids, family, friends and pets. I believe it behooves us to widen, not narrow, our circles of concern and caring.

Finally, I agree with Atlmom's comment way above. Why do people marry jerks and then complain "My spouse is a jerk! Waah! Pity meee!" This would be a great topic for Leslie to cover - choosing your spouse well and not picking someone who will make you miserable. Honestly, I believe that some people put more thought and effort into buying a new car than they do choosing the person they will (hopefully) spend the rest of their lives with!

Posted by: Flyonthewall | November 17, 2006 2:16 PM

KB Silver Spring, my sentiments exactly. People need to be more responsible for their pets. Leash them, pick up their poop, train them. I've got a couple of boots that smell like dog cr@p all the time, maybe that's why those dogs are attracted to me.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 2:17 PM

This is so frustrating I'm just going to go home and kick the dog!!!

Posted by: 222 | November 17, 2006 2:22 PM

"Honestly, I believe there is plenty of love to go around for kids, family, friends and pets. I believe it behooves us to widen, not narrow, our circles of concern and caring."

So true,Flyonthewall. Less cocooning and more community involvement.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | November 17, 2006 2:23 PM

Bob-

Yes - there are a lot of people who are not very responsible with their dogs - but I have seen a lot of people be not very responsible with their kids, too. I am shocked sometimes by how irresponsible people are - no good examples I can think of at the moment. . .

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 2:23 PM

I shouldn't weigh in... because I don't have a PET, I have a service dog.

It took a lot of time, patience and money to get him trained to this point, I don't want any random attacks from dogs or people traumatizing him for life so he is unable to work.

CMAC-- Train your dog to do a downstay at your side. The kid is no longer sniffed, the parent has nothing to complain about, and you have the moral ground to call him a sicko.

The fact is that you don't know if a 2 year old has an healthy immune system or not, so it IS respectful not to let your dog sniff and lick a visiting child's face. What if your dog had just been flea-dipped, or carries germs due to playing outside without a bath?

Also, if the child gets scared and hits your dog in the face, you don't want to deal with the situation.

If you are unwilling to train your dog to obey you in your own home, I would really advise leashing your dog whenever small guests are over.

I completely agree with you that those people are jerks, but you need to SHOW the dog what to do-- i.e. stay away from those people. It's called being a gracious host and TRAINING YOUR DOG.

Somebody posted: "My wife, said, "Oh, honey, don't do that." The other mom said: "F you, B&*ch!", snatched her child by the hand, and stormed out. Was it Sartre who said "hell is other people"? "

Now imagine how I feel when those kind of people make a fuss about my dog's presence.

As part of good manners, I need to encourage my dog not to sniff people inappropriately. I don't do this by beating or anything, just by commanding my dog to do something else (return to my side) that means he can no longer be sniffing that person.

People who pet him for approaching them without my permission are undermining his training, so this took a while to train.

Somebody keeps being obsessed with animal lives vs people's lives. Dogs just don't live as long as people.

However since I have found there are no laws for 911 to be called if a service dog is under attack in my particular area... and this is actually necessary, because the owner can be put in extreme danger by having the service dog attacked, hurt, and so on. I found this out.

So what is my response? I'm going to have to be the first one bitten SO 911 must respond and I can get a police report filed so I can sue those dog owners out the wazoo, and possibly actually save my dog's from being so traumatized the service dog can never work again.

It can cost 50,000 dollars to train a service dog professionally and that dog is still not finished with its training. The average service dog gets over 1,000 hours of personal training, and throughout its life it gets regular training and feedback from its partner so it becomes a true team with the partner.

I want to have a police report so I can at least sue for the vet costs and a way for me to work out having TWO dogs if he has to be retired suddenly due to somebody else's fault.

I know people would love to take their pets out in public, but it is much more dangerous than you'd think, and basic obedience is mandatory.

My dog has been stepped on, had bags swung into his face, had to deal with people dropping things around him (he's bomb proof), thousands of screaming toddlers, and some really idiotic parents.

Folks, if you are a parent and you do NOT know dogs, do not allow or encourage your kid to interact with a service dog.

Early on when my dog was a puppy in training, I merely indicated my puppy was OK with kids. Well, this woman, behind my back, I couldn't hear or see her, she started BAITING my dog with her baby. she thrust it out towards my dog, then withdrew it, waved the baby's hand at my dog, and generally babytalked. And she was so close for over 2 minutes. It was when I saw my dog's tail wagging that I looked around to see what she was doing, and my dog got up and went to sniff the baby.

Well my dog went from a little puppy on the floor to this really TALL puppy with a head bigger than her baby. She freaked out and went to complain.

You know what? She had no business bothering my dog behind my back, if it went to court, her kid wasn't hurt and she was clearly interfering with my dog.

Still, since then, my dog has been trained to an even firmer down-stay with distractions by kids, and he will ignore kids. That's all fine. He has been teased by unsupervised kids on duty.

My dog is always very alert to toddlers and young kids that seem to be alone and has alerted me. He once barked at a mother who left 2 young kids unattended in a car when she ran into. He wouldn't stop until she came back, one of the very few instances he's ever barked on duty.

Anyway, any parent who had even 1 cents worth of knowledge about dogs would not have done that nor freaked out when the dog took it as a greet invitation.

The general understanding of dog psychology has gone into a nosedive in american society as more and more people are growing up without any animals around, let alone dogs.

Public reactions range from petaphiles, who think every dog they see in a public place is for them to pet, to the fearful people who scream if they see a dog 1000 feet away.

I also note that most people who are fearful of dogs grew up in the city. For obvious reason, they don't get as much exposure to friendly dogs.

I've found that a very good way for a kid to overcome fear of a dog is to find a big dog that is gentle and obedience trained, and take the time to show the kid that the dog can and will obey its commands (under supervision).

My roommate once said my 85 lb collie mix was the first dog she wasn't scared of at all.

All she did was basically not rush to sniff her, not jump on her, not move suddenly, and also obey my basic commands and be polite on leash.




Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 2:24 PM

"Honestly, I believe that some people put more thought and effort into buying a new car than they do choosing the person they will (hopefully) spend the rest of their lives with!"

Indeed. And we wonder why the divorce rate is so high?

And why can't people discuss things before they get married? And pay attention to red flags?

If you want 4 kids and your spouse wants none, that's an issue...

Posted by: RaiseYourOwnKids | November 17, 2006 2:24 PM

Most people who call their pets their "kids" are doing it very tongue-in-cheek. Obviously these pets are not the same as human children and most pet owners don't equate the experience of having a pet to having a child, but many of the responsibilities are the same. You have to feed them everyday, you have to take them to the doctor when they are sick, you are responsible for their fitness, well-being, and happiness. Of course the degrees of each of these responsibilities differ by a great amount, kids take much more time and effort. But for child-free people, their pets are their little ones, the joy of their day when they return home, their happiness when they are sad. Calling a pet a child is not to offend people with human children, but to convey how important someone's pet is to them.

For Christmas one year I gave my father a picture frame that says "I Love My Grandpa" with a picture of my dog in it. He loved it, got the joke, and proudly displayed this frame in his office at work.

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 2:25 PM

I shouldn't weigh in... because I don't have a PET, I have a service dog.

It took a lot of time, patience and money to get him trained to this point, I don't want any random attacks from dogs or people traumatizing him for life so he is unable to work.

CMAC-- Train your dog to do a downstay at your side. The kid is no longer sniffed, the parent has nothing to complain about, and you have the moral ground to call him a sicko.

The fact is that you don't know if a 2 year old has an healthy immune system or not, so it IS respectful not to let your dog sniff and lick a visiting child's face. What if your dog had just been flea-dipped, or carries germs due to playing outside without a bath?

Also, if the child gets scared and hits your dog in the face, you don't want to deal with the situation.

If you are unwilling to train your dog to obey you in your own home, I would really advise leashing your dog whenever small guests are over.

I completely agree with you that those people are jerks, but you need to SHOW the dog what to do-- i.e. stay away from those people. It's called being a gracious host and TRAINING YOUR DOG.

Somebody posted: "My wife, said, "Oh, honey, don't do that." The other mom said: "F you, B&*ch!", snatched her child by the hand, and stormed out. Was it Sartre who said "hell is other people"? "

Now imagine how I feel when those kind of people make a fuss about my dog's presence.

As part of good manners, I need to encourage my dog not to sniff people inappropriately. I don't do this by beating or anything, just by commanding my dog to do something else (return to my side) that means he can no longer be sniffing that person.

People who pet him for approaching them without my permission are undermining his training, so this took a while to train.

Somebody keeps being obsessed with animal lives vs people's lives. Dogs just don't live as long as people.

However since I have found there are no laws for 911 to be called if a service dog is under attack in my particular area... and this is actually necessary, because the owner can be put in extreme danger by having the service dog attacked, hurt, and so on. I found this out.

So what is my response? I'm going to have to be the first one bitten SO 911 must respond and I can get a police report filed so I can sue those dog owners out the wazoo, and possibly actually save my dog's from being so traumatized the service dog can never work again.

It can cost 50,000 dollars to train a service dog professionally and that dog is still not finished with its training. The average service dog gets over 1,000 hours of personal training, and throughout its life it gets regular training and feedback from its partner so it becomes a true team with the partner.

I want to have a police report so I can at least sue for the vet costs and a way for me to work out having TWO dogs if he has to be retired suddenly due to somebody else's fault.

I know people would love to take their pets out in public, but it is much more dangerous than you'd think, and basic obedience is mandatory.

My dog has been stepped on, had bags swung into his face, had to deal with people dropping things around him (he's bomb proof), thousands of screaming toddlers, and some really idiotic parents.

Folks, if you are a parent and you do NOT know dogs, do not allow or encourage your kid to interact with a service dog.

Early on when my dog was a puppy in training, I merely indicated my puppy was OK with kids. Well, this woman, behind my back, I couldn't hear or see her, she started BAITING my dog with her baby. she thrust it out towards my dog, then withdrew it, waved the baby's hand at my dog, and generally babytalked. And she was so close for over 2 minutes. It was when I saw my dog's tail wagging that I looked around to see what she was doing, and my dog got up and went to sniff the baby.

Well my dog went from a little puppy on the floor to this really TALL puppy with a head bigger than her baby. She freaked out and went to complain.

You know what? She had no business bothering my dog behind my back, if it went to court, her kid wasn't hurt and she was clearly interfering with my dog.

Still, since then, my dog has been trained to an even firmer down-stay with distractions by kids, and he will ignore kids. That's all fine. He has been teased by unsupervised kids on duty.

My dog is always very alert to toddlers and young kids that seem to be alone and has alerted me. He once barked at a mother who left 2 young kids unattended in a car when she ran into. He wouldn't stop until she came back, one of the very few instances he's ever barked on duty.

Anyway, any parent who had even 1 cents worth of knowledge about dogs would not have done that nor freaked out when the dog took it as a greet invitation.

The general understanding of dog psychology has gone into a nosedive in american society as more and more people are growing up without any animals around, let alone dogs.

Public reactions range from petaphiles, who think every dog they see in a public place is for them to pet, to the fearful people who scream if they see a dog 1000 feet away.

I also note that most people who are fearful of dogs grew up in the city. For obvious reason, they don't get as much exposure to friendly dogs.

I've found that a very good way for a kid to overcome fear of a dog is to find a big dog that is gentle and obedience trained, and take the time to show the kid that the dog can and will obey its commands (under supervision).

My roommate once said my 85 lb collie mix was the first dog she wasn't scared of at all-- she didn't sniff, jump, move suddenly, obeyed commands and was polite.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 2:25 PM

"If you have a dog that bites a kid just for being in your house it is a menace to socity. What if it got out and bit someone?"

Oh for God's sake.

The dog was a 15 year old 20 pound terrier. She was very protective of our house and saw someone coming in without permission, and therefore protected the house. The vet saw no problem with what occurred, and neither did the animal control officer. (I believe the quote was "THIS is the dangerous dog?" as our dog licked her hand.) That was the first, and last, time she bit anyone.

Yes, some dogs are just aggressive no matter what. And those should be dealt with. But not every dog that bites someone is a menace to society.

Posted by: AG | November 17, 2006 2:30 PM

When I was young, lots of people worked and had dogs. No one sent their dogs to doggie day care. People came home on their lunch hour and let the dog out. Or they paid a neighbor to let the dog out. Either dogs have become more socialized or people have started to recognize that the social needs of dogs in this generation. Don't get me wrong. I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with people lavishing their pets. This is American and they are free to do what they want. But that seems to be a recent trend. People loved their pets in the 60s, 70s, and the 80s. People did not buy their pets lavish gifts (or at least the middle class didn't). I think the point is childfree people don't want kids. No problems with that. So it is not as if parents think if child free people got a kid, they would start to ignore the pet. The point is they don't want kids to begin with. But people like pets and kids to fulfill a nurturing quality in themselves. Pets fill that void of giving and receiving love. I don't know why the childfree here are arguing this. You obviously wanted a pet to give them love and attention and hope to get some in return. That is not that much different from parenting. I guess the funny thing I notice with this generation (20-40s) child free people but they almost all want or have pets. And they are extremely devoted to their pets. There is nothing wrong with that. But it is that same nurturing instinct that is at play here. The same instinct that makes people want to parent. It is not a criticism. I think it is nice that they want to nurture some living creature. Now, there are people who don't like anyone. And frankly they are just a little bit off. But most people find some need for companionship. What people are arguing is that people who have kids do not equate children with their pets. Children always take priority. My guess is the people that are drawn to parenting, have a natural inclination towards other human beings. They may still like dogs and cats but the see the priority in their lives for humans over animals.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 17, 2006 2:31 PM

Denial is a wonderful thing. If the kid wasn't supposed to be in your house, why did you tell him to wait until you put the dog away? Your vet is dumb and the animal control officer didn't do their job.

Posted by: to AG | November 17, 2006 2:38 PM


Marc wrote:
"I don't care if it upsets another parent, if a child is doing something dangerous (throwing rocks, abusing animals or other children, putting themselves in harm's way, etc.) I ask them to stop (it doesn't have to be a command or authoritative--if you ask a child what they are doing, they usually know it's something they're not supposed to be doing, and they stop just for having been caught, especially by a stranger)."

You are making WAY too much sense. Society has changed and left many of us behind on the tactic of correcting children that are not your own in public. I see the generations over 40 that will still say something to kids if they are being snots in public, but not the younger ones.

When we were kids adults were always correcting kids in public. It does not happen much anymore. I see it occasionally and do it myself when I see obnoxious behavior. Example: when kids are running around unattended in stores and wreaking havoc - riding shopping carts, etc. I usually ask them to stop whatever they are doing and where their parents are - or tell them I am going to ask a store clerk to find their parents. I'm sure one day a parent is going to punch me.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 2:41 PM

OK, I'll throw it out - any suggestions for sniff-proofing or hump-proofing oneself? I'm getting tired of being a dog-magnet everytime I go to the park. My wife says I am oozing pheromones, but I told her, "It certainly has no effect on you"

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 2:44 PM

I'm sorry about the double-post. I have actually said "sorry, no thanks" after I found out a date was not a "pet person", and this was before I had a service dog.

By the way, the next time anybody has their kid approached by a dog, just say no loudly, tell the kid to stay still, and step in front.

I think owning pets, especially dogs, do really help people understand the importance of their nonverbal body language and the importance of prompt response.

I see too many parents taking forever to discipline their kids. At that point it is "punishment", not actually stopping and correcting the behavior. Punishing kids is not fair or effective.

Being on task and rewarding your kids for being great and stopping them from misbehaving works better than just letting your kid behave great, ok, so-so, and then jumping on them only after they've been naughty.

Think of all the people we have in jail who are being punished for years, and it doesn't WORK that well. And think of the blame culture-- "oh it was their fault for this and that."

I got bit by a dog when I was 8. I deserved it, I expressly ignored the dog's warning signals to back off. It's better to learn respect for everything as a kid.

Look at how many adults out there have no respect for anybody and keep pushing and pushing others.


Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 2:45 PM

"When I was young, lots of people worked and had dogs. No one sent their dogs to doggie day care. People came home on their lunch hour and let the dog out. Or they paid a neighbor to let the dog out. Either dogs have become more socialized or people have started to recognize that the social needs of dogs in this generation."

Other things that have happened are that the commutes are longer and there are fewer people at home during the day to let the dog out. Also, some of us live in more remote areas and have no close neighbors.

Posted by: footloose and childfree | November 17, 2006 2:46 PM

When we were kids (51 now) were called our parents friends Mr and Mrs. We respected our teachers, the police and all the neighbors (even the cranky old lady next door). We said please and thank you. We weren't perfect for sure - we pulled pranks, smoked on the way home from school (gee ma - I don't know how my eyebrowns got burned off), and fought with our siblings. If we were in a store and misbehaved our parent (usually mother) would pull us out of there by our arm yelling. We didn't get hurt and we certainly didn't do it again. And we certainly didn't talk back to our parents. I think what bothers me the most about kids these days is the way many of them disrespect everyone from their parents to their teachers to the police. Scary to think that this is our future.

Posted by: Correcting kids | November 17, 2006 2:49 PM

"My wife says I am oozing pheromones, but I told her, "It certainly has no effect on you"

and this is a surprise?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 2:49 PM

Bob, dogs often hump as part of an anxiety.

Sniffing crotches, well, for some reason my dog never was much of a crotch dog-- he preferred butts as a puppy.

Putting your hands out and protecting your crotch helps fend off the crotch. Hands are good smelly body parts as well.

Another thing I notice is that too many people pet dogs that sniff them as though in self-defense... it encourages the behavior. So don't pet the dog that sniffs you. I'd probably just turn away.

If you really have this problem over and over in known situations (local park), carry dog treats in defense. Most dogs will be much more fascinated in your pocket rather than your crotch then, and you can pull a treat and hold it away from your body and then tell the dog "sit" (most pets know that), praise when dog sits, toss the treat, or grab for the collar and when the owner run up, inform the owner that you could have been a mad dog poisoner and PLEASE not to let their dog run up to people like that.

Point will be made in spades.

Now that I have a dog as the preferred sniff target, obnoxious sniffing hasn't been a problem for me lately.


Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 2:53 PM

Hmm - some interesting sentiments from both sides today ... as my son and I have always lived in apartments, our pet ownership has been limited to rodents and things that live in a tank :) (though we are cat-sitting right now and my son LOVES the cat!) I really fall in line with Texas Dad more than anyone else here, and it's mostly because this debate, to me, is starting to feel very elitist - that only people who can lavish attention on their animals are "good" pet owners. We had many pets in my house when I was a child, and many of them stayed outdoors - and they didn't have fancy toys or expensive food or doggie trainers or any of the other things I notice becoming so common these days. They were very loved, and (fairly) well-behaved and I just can't agree with any of the posters here who would suggest they weren't adequately cared for because we didn't have the money/space for all the "extras". Basically the same way I feel about people who think only perfectly-prepared-every-sense-of-the-word individuals should have children ... so I guess there's definitely a similarity :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 17, 2006 2:55 PM

Bob, there are no sure-fire ways to make yourself sniff-proof, other than avoiding dogs all together. As far as humping, if a dog tries to jump on you or hump your leg, bend your knee so that it hits the dog in the chest. Not hard, mind you, but at an angle so that the dog has nothing to grab onto. Saying, NO, at the same time in a loud, deep voice will usually stop any dog in it's tracks. If the humper is small, just pick up your leg while saying NO! Just curious, have you ever had a dog? How did you deal with it?

I don't think there is anyone here, except for a few people, who are saying that pets are more important than children, even the child-free people, like myself. The burning building example is a good one. Who would I save, my dog or someone else's child? I think (almost) everyone on this post would save the child, and feel sad about their pet. No arguments there.

All of the other discussions about veterinary care, lavish spending on pets, indoor/outdoor, that is all personal preference and shouldn't be rightously judged by anyone, similar to the SUV vs. sedan debate. If it makes you sleep better at night, it's your decision.

But I agree with Wilbrod, people with kids, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE teach them how to behave around strange dogs, for the safety of your child and other people's pets and service dogs.

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 2:59 PM

My dog would be love to be outdoors most of the day... as long as I was there with him, so it's not cruel to have them outside. I wish I had a yard some days, it seems the height of luxury to me now.

The important thing is to have a secure sheltered place, food and water available, and some inside time with family, or to have the family be real outdoors people.

Some people use TV as babysitters for their kids, some other people use the yards as dogsitters. I've seen dogs become bored, compulsive barkers because they are BRED FOR working with people and they're all alone most of the day. I'd probably at least have the dog inside when the family is home for some play and petting and family time.

In the city, there is so much risk of kids throwing rocks and other stuff at dogs in yards, patios, etc. that it really is unsafe to have the dog outside unsupervised-- it happened to people I know. Dogs get stolen too. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with yards themselves, just not a replacement for good ownership.


Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 3:02 PM

I agree with your coworker. Pets should not be disposable ... maybe some day the guy that deflowers your daughter will treat her like disposable Kleenex, then you'll know how it feels.

Posted by: To WorkingMomX | November 17, 2006 3:08 PM

I've heard that turning and stepping away (like you'd do in tai chi self-defense) is a better choice than kneeing a dog in the chest-- for one thing, you might not get the balance and timing right and fall over. And the second thing is that a hard knee in the chest can actually seriously injure a dog.

I would go with the slide out of the hump myself, and then grab the collar.

Little, Intact male dogs are the WORST for humping, and I don't know what to do, kick them off my foot?

Usually I just withdraw and ignore and suggest coldly the owner handle the dog better. I had a bichon frise try to hump me when I was sitting down playing with another dog. I got up and he tried again when I sat down again, and I made sure the owner saw me.

That is one dog I would love to kidnap, drive to the vet and say bye-bye to his testicles. As it is, I simply don't pet that dog anymore nor hang around it.

If anybody has ideas about ankle-humpers, please share. I am not a "little dog person".

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 3:09 PM

From Websters:

Parent - a person who brings up and cares for another.

To me that says someone taking care of a pet is indead a parent.

Posted by: Kevin | November 17, 2006 3:09 PM

Wilbrod:

You seem like a very sensible person. Thank you for your posts.

I guess it might seem like I am one of the 'unreasonable' people here - I don't mean to sound that way. I am perfectly willing to work with people who have kids to accommodate them as long as they will do the same for me.

My dogs are just important to me - I am sure my kids would be, too - it is just 'family' - plain and simple, whether two or four legged.

Posted by: WAMC | November 17, 2006 3:12 PM

Wilbrod: responding to:

"CMAC-- Train your dog to do a downstay at your side. The kid is no longer sniffed, the parent has nothing to complain about, and you have the moral ground to call him a sicko.

The fact is that you don't know if a 2 year old has an healthy immune system or not, so it IS respectful not to let your dog sniff and lick a visiting child's face. What if your dog had just been flea-dipped, or carries germs due to playing outside without a bath?

Also, if the child gets scared and hits your dog in the face, you don't want to deal with the situation.

If you are unwilling to train your dog to obey you in your own home, I would really advise leashing your dog whenever small guests are over.

I completely agree with you that those people are jerks, but you need to SHOW the dog what to do-- i.e. stay away from those people. It's called being a gracious host and TRAINING YOUR DOG"


I am a gracious host, I will put my dog in his kennel if it is requested. I must say though that in our neighborhood everyone knows my dog. He is outside playing with kids - they are all familiar with him - even the screaming door knocker. I wouldn't invite kids over if my dog had just been flea dipped - and if a kid has an immune problem (What?) maybe they shouldn't be at a party where they know there will be other germy children and a dog.

Honestly - I know you mean well but this is not a situation where people are coming to my house with an unknown dog. My dog is well trained and very friendly. He is not uber-trained, but he has grown up with kids and never shown aggression. If I am the parent and my 2 yo kid is crying because a dog licked and sniffed them I either A. Pick them up so they stop crying or better yet, B. show them how to approach/handle the dog - not threaten to take the dog out and beat him.

Most dogs I know "greet" you at the door - most don't jump, but they may bark and lick and sniff. Do I live amongst the most ill-trained dogs in the universe?

Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 3:13 PM

I grew up pet-less and honestly didn't understand people's attachment to them until my husband and I adopted two kitties. Originally, my husband was dead against the adoptions and only said yes when I agreed to make them "my cats". After a year, I can tell you, he is the first one through the door with "daddy's home!" and spends many hours cuddling and playing - very cute. I've seen a new side of him and we are now planning to have a child in a shorter timeframe than initially anticipated. Whether a biological child need brought on the kitties or caring for the kitties together spurred on the child need, who knows, but hopefully we will be pregnant soon.

I am seeing a few glimpses into my future when I mention to co-workers that my husband is taking them to the vet, shopping for litter, etc and the response is - "but you're the mom!" Makes me giggle now, but I'm sure that will get old when I'm really a working mom.

Anyway - question for the bloggers....I hear terrible things about cats mixing with kids/pregnancy. Like kitty letter causing birth defects and cats climbing into cribs and accidentally suffocating babies. Also, that some cats are very aggressive with kids (and kids tough to "train" to not pull tails, etc). Do the cat/kid parents out there have any advice about those things? Any good resources I can search out? I can't talk to my love for a baby yet but the deep feelings I have for my cats was very unexpected - I was the most cynical non-pet chick ever! Meow!

Posted by: Kitties and Kiddies | November 17, 2006 3:14 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, Wilbrod and my child has fur. I'll try some of them the next time. My wife gave me a walking stick too. It'll keep away the critters, four-legged and two-legged ones.

Posted by: Bob | November 17, 2006 3:21 PM

Thanks to the supporters and all those who "get it" about pets, kids, and the "circle of life." This blog has been a mostly refreshing, fun read today!

My mom's beloved tabby used to jump into her lap whenever he wanted, pre-baby. Then I showed up. Mom recalls the first time the cat tried jumping up when I was in her lap -- he checked himself mid-air and landed with an undignified splat on the floor. From then on, he always checked to see if the coast was clear before jumping up. Kind of broke Mom's heart a little.

But then I got bigger, and then someone else got first dibs on Mom's lap. So I accepted my new place on the status list and went off to become CatBuddy. See? Full circle!

Re: "Comfortable" and compassionate -- By "comfortable" I mean anyone whose basic needs have been met -- not just those in luxury. If you have shelter and a full tummy, you can spare more thought for others. Not to say you can't be starving and also care deeply about animals, but it does take more effort.

PS Flyonthewall: Guys who love cats equally do exist -- mine had two before I met him. Hang in there.

Posted by: CatMom | November 17, 2006 3:24 PM

No, if pregnant one should not change the kitty litter - check out webmd.

No, you shouldn't ever let your child alone with the cat - especially when the child is sleeping. A closed door is enough of a deterrant to a cat - but you can get something to put over the crib so the cat can't climb in.

My parents always talk about how they got a kitten when I was about 6 mos. old and they were afraid I would be killed by the cat since I was so mean to it (it was the only thing in the house my size, as I had two older sisters). So they got rid of the cat. They were only half joking, as mom was always deathly allergic to animals. But still, they were afraid. You just need to teach child that the animal is not like their stuffed animals (because, what do they know?).

Posted by: atlmom | November 17, 2006 3:27 PM

To kitties and kiddies:

One serious health risk to pregnant women from cats is toxoplasmosis. This is a parasite that infects cats, and can be passed to people through feces. Pregnant women can become infected and pass it on to their fetus, and women can also suffer from active disease if they are having lowered immune function, which can often happen during pregnancy. You can take your cats to the vet and have them do and toxoplasma gondii antibody titer to find out if they are carriers. If they are, I think it is up to your husband to clean out the litter box, and you should be safe.

Another risk to babies, once they are old enough to move around and get grabby, are scratches and bites from the cat. Cats carry a lot of bacteria in their claws and teeth, and wounds from a cat can easily become infected. Unfortunately, you won't know how your cats will react to your kids until they are around. Best of luck, and future congratulations!

I don't know about the suffocation thing, I had never heard of that. Any suggestions from cat behavior experts?

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 3:28 PM

To Kitties and Kiddies: The idea that cats suffocate babies is pure superstition, an old wives tale promulgated by the superstitious and ignorant. You can safely disregard that. However, it's not a good idea to have kitty climbing into the baby's crib due to shedding, etc. A net over the crib, or closing the door to keep kitty out, will solve that problem.

The kitty litter disease you mention is toxoplasmosis, which indoor cats rarely get. Toxo is transmitted by cats eating rodents, or humans eating undercooked meat - and you are more likely to get toxo from eating undercooked meat than from a cat. But just to be on the safe side - have your DH change the litter when you are pregnant. Or, if he's adamantly against it, wear rubber gloves while handling the litter and then wash your hands afterwards, or get one of those Litter Maid self-cleaning boxes.

Toxoplasmosis, by the way, only grows in "day old" cat feces. So scoop as soon as the poop appears, or at least the same day, and you eliminate the danger of toxo.

Cats and kids can happily mix with a little common sense on the part of the parents. Good luck!

Posted by: Flyonthewall | November 17, 2006 3:28 PM

I've loved dogs since I was a child and as an adult,I now have 2 dogs. Before I had a child, these dogs were like my children in the sense that I put all of my nurturing needs into them.

I also trained my dogs and when I became pregnant I started making plans for how the dogs and baby would live together. Now, my child is a toddler and he is learning (because it is a process with a child) how to treat my dogs (and all dogs) with gentleness and respect. I don't believe my dogs would ever react negatively unprovoked, but I am not foolish, they are after all dogs, and they react mainly on instinct. I watch every interaction very closely to ensure that they are positive for both the dogs and my child. When my child is wound up or not listening well, I gate off the dogs to give them some peace.

For the first year of having a baby, I was tired and overwhelmed and had very little time to devote to anyone, much less the dogs. But they adjusted just fine. They were still fed and groomed and walked of course. There wasn't as much cuddle time as before, but I built in some play time with other activities. With a child to take care of, sure, they get a little less attention (as would a first child after a second child comes into the picture). But it's not like they are suffering for it, they still have it really good!

I love my child as any parent loves a child. But I also love my dogs. I also love my spouse, and my mother, and other people. All of those types of love are different, as they should be.

When it comes to hierarchy, I believe human life does come above animal life, which is not to say that animals should ever be abused, mistreated, or discarded. But I would never equate my child with my dogs, they are different.

And when it comes to "training" children to be respectful toward animals, every parent has that responsibility. But every parent also knows that until a certain age, children are still learning, and they are unpredictable and don't know the consequences of their actions. And animals don't understand the value of not hurting humans. So ultimately, it is up to the adults to make sure that the 2 can coexist together.

Posted by: bloggerbabe | November 17, 2006 3:33 PM

to CMAC: "Do I live amongst the most ill-trained dogs in the universe?" nope. dogs are territorial and if someone's at the door, it's your dog's job to make sure you know something exciting is happening: someone's at the door! Your expectations of the parent of the 2 year old are right on the money, as well, IMHO.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 3:37 PM

Bob, in answer to your request for tips, have you tried stepping back from the dog as it makes a beeline for your crotch or leg, and petting the dog? Or gently disengaging the dog and firmly saying, "No"?

Also, if you have boots that smell like dog poop, get rid of them and certainly don't wear them to the park. That may be attracting the dogs.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 17, 2006 3:38 PM

Flyonthewayll,

Good to know about that superstition! Sounded a little weird to me. . .

***Science Nerd Alert!!!***
As far as toxoplasmosis, this parasite reproduces in cats only, so cats are the definitive carrier of this organism. Other animals, including humans, acquire the organism through ingestion of eggs, or cysts in muscle tissue from infected animals. A cat can be completely asymptomatic and still be a carrier of the parasite, and while it is uncommon in indoor cats, it is still possible for them to be infected. The organism can pass from mother to fetus, so it can be transmitted from the cat's mother.

Toxoplasma gondii eggs are present in the feces and can be infectious from minute one, so it actually doesn't matter how quickly you scoop the poop. The eggs can also survive in the poop and be infectious for a long time, so wash your hands well after scooping. If you are pregnant, also be careful of the cats nails. Cats often have fecal matter in their nails from scratching in the cat box, and a scratch from a cat can come loaded with fecal matter and possible harmful parasites or bacteria. Keep your cats nails clipped short (they will hate that) or have your husband clean and clip them often.

Sorry for the long boring (nerdy) post!

Posted by: My child has fur | November 17, 2006 3:42 PM

To Kitties and Kiddies:

Yay for you and your husband! Your post made my day.

Kitty litter is dangerous because it can be contaminated with toxoplasmosis, so pregnant women should be careful handling it (gloves, bags, etc.). I hear the risk is diminished if you have indoor cats, but I am not a doctor. But I will say my mother was the only litter-changer for several indoor/outdoor cats for years, and we were fine. (But I plan on using any excuse to get out of litterbox duty if/when I get preggers.) >;)

Baby smothering: I think it's malarkey. Still, the best option is to keep the cats out of the baby's room unless you are there to watch them interact.

Cats and dogs both have different temperaments. Some cats are super-patient, some are too playful/aggressive, and some will just run and hide. But I will say that in my house, we kids were in more danger from our own father than from any four-legged beasties. (He kicked the cats -- and us -- behind our mom's back. That "animal abuse" bumper sticker is absolutely right.)

Bottom line: Talk to your vet and your doctor. But by and large, you should be fine. Cheers!

Posted by: CatMom | November 17, 2006 3:44 PM

Bob, there's also a product called "bitter apple" that dogs hate. A bit on your hand just as (or before) a dog approaches will send the dog away if you put your hand out first. We carry dog mace with us when we walk/hike with our dog. She's always on a leash - partly because she strongly resembles a bear - but other dogs not on a leash often run up to us. We've not had to use the dog mace but we don't hike without it. Our obedience trainers cautioned us strongly never to take our dog to a leash free dog run - aggressive dogs and diseases are too common.

Posted by: Stacey | November 17, 2006 3:54 PM

My doormat says "Kids are for people who can't have cats." In a joking way, I totally agree with that statement. I happen to think cats are the most beautiful creaturs God ever created. It doesn't mean I love them more than kids, or people in general. So I don't know why people would think in terms of one or the other. Some days I like chocolate ice cream, some days I like vanilla ice cream. They're both great, in their own way. But for my personality, and my lifesyle, cats are better suited for me than kids. But if I ever have a kid (which I might one day) I'd make sure the child grows up to love all creaturs.

Posted by: Jen | November 17, 2006 4:03 PM

"I agree with your coworker. Pets should not be disposable ... maybe some day the guy that deflowers your daughter will treat her like disposable Kleenex, then you'll know how it feels. "

You must be a seriously sick twist to write something like that. I hope people treat you better than you treat them.

Posted by: To Anon at 3:08 | November 17, 2006 4:03 PM

"You two come across as heartless, miserly, anal jerks with endless stories to justify your cost/benefit attitudes towards life. You probably should not be fathers if you are always looking at the bottom line."

Hmmm...hard to know where to begin with that, or to wonder if it's just a troll, as it is unsigned. Regardless, I like to think my kids wouldn't agree with your rather personal attack on me. Thanks, scarry, for stepping up and helping out :~). Hopefully helped put the conversation back in perspective.

Perhaps it is a function of a nation prospering financially, but thoughts about animal needs that extend to REQUIRING modern human conveniences as preconditions to animal ownership seem, rather, well...skewed in the greater priority listing, IHMO. And as noted, these laborious new requirements seem to be a function of only this latest generation. You know, the one were Americans begin to be the rich enough to worry about such lavishness. Coincidence?

As for "looking at the bottom line", perhaps it's partly cultural. I could repeat again that for some of us raised in the southwest or rural regions, we have somewhat different values and norms concerning animals overall. Pets are only a subset. Ranchers whose existence is predicated on animal welfare can grow very attached to their breed cows over the years, in fact in a way many of you will never understand--but in the end cattle are breed for a reason. For us down here animals aren't only luxury friends, they are an integral part of who we are, and often work along with us. Yet even saying that, getting fatally attached to one just isn't an wise option. If that is too "bottom line" for you, fine, but at least I hope you get some insight into the thinking. Of at least as much as it will allow you to remain feeling superior, of course.

And while we are at it, in case one mistakes this as heartlessness, I guess I would argue that I know hunters who often care more for the land and all the animals on it than those that would criticize them. And those who like their hunting dogs more than most of their acquaintances.

Thought I'd offer an insight on how folks from different areas can arrive at different conclusions from the same starting points...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 4:07 PM

Just to jump on the rescue band wagon. When I was in college my family rescued a bulldog named Lola. She was abused by her previous owner, didn't get food and water on a regular basis and was kept in a cage for the first year of her life. When we got her the rescue group had already tried to place her with two families who returned her because she was too "active." She was a puppy, she was supposed to be "active." As a family we had to teach Lola to walk on a leash, "house-train" her, make her realize that she would get food and water on a regular basis and just generaly let her know that humans are ok. We've had Lola for 3 years now (she just turned 4) and we wouldn't trade her for anything! She is a great dog, loves people, is fantastic with little kids and is just a true joy. So, for those of you who are thinking of getting pets, please please please rescue one. These are great animals that just need a little extra TLC and they will be so grateful to be given a second chance. And for those of you who don't think Lola knows we rescued her, you're more than welcome to come to my house and watch her interact with us. She knows.

Posted by: Melissa | November 17, 2006 4:18 PM

It is ridiculous to equate kids and pets, but employers should do more to help out all their employees, not just people with kids. Case in point- policies that provide employee parking for people with kids, but not for everyone else. Whether it's taking care of a pet or a dying grandmother or a child, they're all important.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 4:20 PM

I'm getting in this really late. You can't tell me animals don't love people. Maybe the love is realized on a different basis, but so what? Several years ago my wife had major surgery. When she came home, she couldn't do much but lie in bed for a couple of weeks while people came in and out of the house to check on her. Our female cat (now departed), all 6 pounds of her, virtually refused to leave my wife's side, and wouldn't close her eyes, no matter how sleepy she was, while someone other than me was in the room with my wife. She knew my wife wasn't well and was watching out for her. If this isn't "love" in the human sense, it's a lot better than the crappy way a lot of people treat other people they profess to "love."

We don't have kids and we love pets, but I understand when people have to put kids first. We've spent money on pet care that friends of mine with kids couldn't afford to spend. That's life. On the other hand, as many people have said, people who are expecting to have kids really need to think about what they're doing when they get a pet first. These are real living creatures that know when they're being abandoned and can suffer terribly. It's a responsibility, just as having kids is.

Posted by: Carl | November 17, 2006 4:24 PM

As a 39 year old female, I have never, ever had a desire to have children, but I had always wanted a dog. Now I have two. Never assume that pets are a substitute for children, because some of us single pet owners prefer pets to children.

Posted by: Donna | November 17, 2006 4:28 PM

Ooops, forgot to sign my posting at 4:07 pm. My bad...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | November 17, 2006 4:32 PM

Carl seems to be a sensitive person. Don't know if he read my post or not, but he expressed some of what I was trying to say better than I did.

Posted by: Robbin | November 17, 2006 4:33 PM

"Hmmm...hard to know where to begin with that, or to wonder if it's just a troll, as it is unsigned. Regardless, I like to think my kids wouldn't agree with your rather personal attack on me. Thanks, scarry, for stepping up and helping out :~). Hopefully helped put the conversation back in perspective."

Haha, unsigned like your own post. Classic...

Posted by: DonDon | November 17, 2006 4:34 PM

to Melissa -- I'm with you.

Relating this topic to the topic of domestic adoptions, there are a lot of us that can take on a special needs rescue dog, but don't have the time or resources to take on a special needs child. Our two rescue dogs gave our family the gift of being able to make a difference in someone's life. Our someones had fur, and one had been abused and malnourished like Lola.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 17, 2006 4:37 PM

CatMom + Mychildhasfur: My bad, I thought toxo only activated after feces had been sitting around. I get a cat newsletter called "Catnip" which said something like that. In any event, a pregnant woman ideally ought to have her DH, DW or partner change the litter. Otherwise, get a "Littermaid" auto-scoop box or wear rubber gloves and wash your hands thoroughly. Meanwhile, as you said, cats smothering babies is pure malarkey, rubbish, tommy rot, horse puckie or whatever you want to call it.

Carl: I agree 100% with your post. Well said. Pets and kids alike are responsibilities. Don't want a responsibility? Don't have a child or get a pet. Have a child or pet? Well then be responsible!

Posted by: Flyonthewall | November 17, 2006 4:46 PM

Thank you all for your advice and kind posts!

Posted by: Kitties and Kiddies | November 17, 2006 4:50 PM

My pet peeves, pun intended:

People who wave off my attempts to keep my young child from approaching their dog by saying "oh it's ok, my dog doesn't bite." Well neither did my childhood dog, until at the age of 7, our previously gentle dog savagely attacked our next door neighbor and ripped a good chunk of his throat out. Our dog had known this neighbor his entire life, and the neighbor was just offering him a dog treat at the time--we all saw it from our window. And as far as the dog that killed our family friends' 4 month old baby --well that dog had never displayed any signs of aggression either. All animals are capable of biting.

Another irritant-- people who let their dogs run around unleashed at childrens' parks. I regularly get in fights with these people, who tell me they have kids too and the dog is used to their kids so I shouldn't worry. Well, what if that dog somehow thinks that MY child is trying to attack YOUR child and defends his child? I don't care if it an "unofficial" dog park--people need to obey the leash laws.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2006 4:55 PM

This is absolutely the best blog ever! You guys have outdone yourselves. Thanks for all of the Friday entertainment. I'm going to go home, hug my kids, hug my dogs, and thank God that I have the weekend to recover until next week the cycle starts again.


You are all losers.

Posted by: LMAO | November 17, 2006 5:07 PM

I just better not find that guy who deflowered my dog.

Posted by: Dazed and amused | November 17, 2006 5:08 PM

Come on people, how stupid can you be? A dog is an animal, not a person. Look at it! It's got 4 legs, do you have 4 legs? It lefts one leg and pees on a hydrant, do you do that too? It sh!ts everywhere and doesn't wipe its butt. It smells your crotch to see if it can mate with your leg. It eats roadkill. It eats grass and throws up.

A dog provides wonderful companionship and unconditional love, but don't ever elevate the canine to the status of a human being.

Posted by: PoundPuppy | November 17, 2006 5:11 PM

Bye. Going home to kick the dog.

:) :) j/k :) :)

Posted by: Mongrel | November 17, 2006 5:13 PM

CMAC, like I said, I thought that parent is a pure jerk.

However you did not make it clear that you immediately called your dog off from the kid when the kid started crying. 2 is very young and it's a fear stage for children. If you want the kid to love dogs, call the dog off and let the introduction process go slowly.

This has some pictures of how a toddler can seriously scare a dog and how the introduction process should go to the benefit of all. If you can spot the "danger situation" in the picture of the toddler advancing towards the doberman puppy, pat yourself on the back. If you can't, think harder about your attitude.

sanityshome.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_sanityshome_archive.html

Everybody has a blind spot to their dog's irritating habits, including myself.

NC lawyer said dogs are territorial and they should be at the door.

Well, my dog is a hearing ear dog. He is trained to COME TO ME when there are people at door, run back and forth between me and the door until I answer it. Before I answer it, I put him in a downstay behind me with his treat reward. Then I open the door.

In my opinion, he can't protect my house if he is shot by an intruder at the door. He has to be with me and let me know. Other people may not feel the same need.

However let me explain what a downstay away from the door accomplishes:

1) minimizes risk of dog bolting out the door, which most pet dogs I've seen have a problem with.
2) gets my dog out of the way so people can come in. I have a very small vestibule and my dog tends to do a happy dance with guests and take up more space than any dog other than a Great Dane has a right to do.
3) It also allows me to open the door without a dog all over the door.

My dog was able to do a downstay 4 feet from the door with 6 people coming in and out with food for a Christmas party. He was able to fully observe without being in the way-- given the tight space there, he could have caused an accident if he was allowed to "greet" people.

Maybe if you have a little dog you don't see this as a problem, but it is for little dogs too.

Letting your dog be in the habit of staying by the door increases the risk of barrier frustration and being stimulated enough that the dog could make a bolt for that hated neighbor's dog, a passing kid, etc. when you open the door.

One dog I know personally gouged deep holes in the wall next to the door because he hated the neighbor's black lab and went bonkers every time it walked by. No training, no counterconditioning against protecting the door.

Don't you think it is healthier and less stressful for your dog to know he can ignore that kid at the door, rather than "defend" the door against the kid?

I have actually observed dog trainers trying to teach dog proper "door manners"-- you're right, they all jump and go nust at the door and it effectively makes it impossible for people to enter in and out freely.

The trainer trained the dog to stay by the door and behave-- which is not IMO the best way to deal with an excited dog. It's just easier for the dog to be at least 1 yard away from the door before it is opened.

The training did not seem to be very succcessful since the dogs were asked to change their behavior precisely where and how they are the most highly excited. This is called "flooding" and it is not necessarily the best method.

I'm not saying your dogs are "poorly behaved", but most of the people I know have dogs that could be great dogs at the door and be much easier to handle with some common sense-- dogs that are excited are not dogs that will behave at their best.

I have very, very different standards for my dog because he has to be well behaved much longer and more consistently in more exciting and stressful situations than the average pet dog is, and he is a very high-energy dog.


Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 5:36 PM

For that illustration of kid-dog training:

Read the first entry at the top, then scroll down to "Day 127" at:

sanityshome.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_sanityshome_archive.html link:

I wish the author indexed the entries individually, but ah well.


Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 5:45 PM

wilbrod:
I appreciate all your advise, but am not sure if you read my first post where I pointed out that my Dog - his name is Mac - doesn't bolt out the door, doesn't jump. If someone comes to the door he looks out the window (next to the front door) and when I open the door he just sits. He might pant and when people come in he does a small dance and inappropriately sniffs - if you pet him/acknowledge him he usually just goes away. The point of my story was that kids should not scream at dogs - especially when they have knocked on your door and the dog is just sitting there.

As for the 2 yo (poor kid doesn't know she is being discussed) - she's not mine. She was my neighbors and she is very much a cry baby. If you just look at her she usually hides. The parent should have handled this better - not threatened my dog. Funny - there were about 10 other kids (not all particularly dog friendly) at our house running up and down all 3 levels - playing - and Mac basically left them alone - after some initial sniffing that is.

I admit I can always improve my dog's behavior - but the 2 kids I mentioned were not prepared by their parents on how to act around dogs.

Kind of beating a dead horse here. BTW - I have to walk my dog. He walked earlier with his 2 buddies - a chocolate and golden lab and had a blast. He is pretty well socialized.

Posted by: cmac | November 17, 2006 5:52 PM

You all are the best, this was a blast -- great final hurrah for the deflowered dog line from Dazed and Amused. Have a great weekend...Next week is short (entries only Mon, Tues & Wed) so visit, post, read, repeat.

Posted by: Leslie | November 17, 2006 5:56 PM

Cmac, all 2 year olds are crybabies. It's a FEAR stage.

My nephews hid from me at that age between 18 months and 2 1/2. Suddenly one day my nephew was 3 and he was actually playing host to me and leading me around by the hand for his birthday, he wasn't screaming everytime I looked at him anymore.

I agree the parent shouldn't have gone insane, it helps nothing.

I've also had toddlers run screaming at my dog many, many times. It is the WRONG behavior and most times their parents correct them. But they're 2.

As a friend of mine says-- and she is a mother of two-- "Why did God have to make them walk and be so active while they still have no brains?"

Like I said, I've had to put up with it in public, I'm just grateful I'm deaf so I can't hear all the insane stuff they say.

Just look at the blog and send it to your neighbor, maybe it'll send him a message, that he can do better, hey? ;).

Your dog does like a well-socialized pet dog, although it really sounds like you might need better-socialized neighbors.

Posted by: Wilbrod | November 17, 2006 6:12 PM

wilbrod -

Not all 2 year olds are crybabies - neither of mine were. They cried if they fell or were tired but not when people looked at them. My kids didn't need to be picked up all the time either - I never coddled them.

Now - 2 yo's will run at dogs - they see a fluffy thing and they want to pet it - so I was always militant about them approaching dogs.

As for my neighbor - his social graces are non-existant. He is the type of person that comes to a party and complains about what type of beer is served, or makes outrageous statements about something in the news or politics and gets mad when people retort. He is the crybaby.

Thanks for all your input. I'd like to put Mac in some agility classes - he is a border collie - but may have to start at home because of time. Do you have any recommendations on books or on-line information to start? You may never even get this! Regardless - have a great weekend!

Posted by: cmac | November 18, 2006 9:27 AM

cmac -- we have found two great trainers in mid-sized cities by a combination of craigslist and calling breed-specific rescue orgs and asking them who understands the breed best. don't know where you live, but here's the link to midatlantic border collie rescue. http://www.mabcr.org/

good luck. p.s. neither of our kids were 2 year old cry-babies either.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 18, 2006 2:13 PM

Thanks NC!

Posted by: cmac | November 18, 2006 6:51 PM

Leslie, you are overthinking this. Who cares? This blog has gone down hill fast, probably because Leslie is not a professional writer. Not that I would do much better, but I am not getting paid to do this.

Posted by: Disappointed in this blog | November 18, 2006 9:00 PM

Let's not forget that owning a pet has numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and stress. Children have the opposite effect.

Posted by: catmommy | November 20, 2006 11:12 AM

I grew up pet-less - terrified of dogs, allergic to cats - and my parents rightly realized that we didn't have the time or responsibility necessary to have a pet. My husband has always had a pet, but is willing to be petless for me. We are also unfortunately childless, thinking of possibly adopting one day. After reading all the posts here, I'm kind of glad we are both. I never realized how much animosity there is.

Posted by: amwhite | November 20, 2006 2:16 PM

Perhaps I should let this die, but I need to comment on this:

"I do suggest that those who argue that animals are equally valuable as humans are either distoring the criteria of evaluation or adopt their view as an affectation."

And I suggest that you miss the point of such a position. I, personally, feel that humans are the animal kingdom's version of a spoiled, selfish little child. We have no respect for anything other than ourselves, and in the end, that's to our detriment as much as or moreso than to anything else's. The mindset of "human's rule" is why the earth's (not OURS!) seafood populations, ecosystems, and climate patterns are in the process of collapsing.

In my opinion, your interpretation of "animals are of equal importance to humans" lacks the proper emphasis. That is to say, it isn't a matter of which takes emotional or situational precedent in a family setting, but rather, which holds primacy in the natural order of things (the answer: nothing does, intrinsically; humans are just clever, arrogant jerks).

Posted by: Eric | November 20, 2006 2:21 PM

Oh, but to more directly answer the question at hand:

I believe the question is a lot trickier than it seems. On the surface of things, there is no "correct" answer.

The matter of what is more important--kids or pets--is a purely subjective one. It can't be anything but. The bonds we make and the ones that take priority occurs entirely in the realm of emotion, so there is no objective way to discern a "correct" response.

That said, we're human beings, and in most cases, due to the "survival instinct," most humans are going to form stronger bonds with their human children than with their pets. But this doesn't mean it's wrong and certainly not that it's impossible for a person to develop stronger bonds with an animal than a human.

The fact that our laws protect both animals AND humans infants from neglect speaks volumes about how society as a whole feels. What I hear is, both pets and infants are sufficiently important to us to warrant this distinction moot, other than on an individually considered basis.

Posted by: Eric | November 20, 2006 2:31 PM

I don't have any children (by choice) and I can multi-task just as well as the next person.

I am personally insulted by tone of this article that one must be a parent to be a responsible/desirable employee.

Posted by: Kanne | November 20, 2006 5:40 PM

Kanne - try being insulted on the correct blog page -- this was about pets and parenthood.

Posted by: to Kanne | November 20, 2006 6:24 PM

My pets are my babies and having a dog is as close as I ever want to get to having kids. I am allergic to children.

Posted by: Dorrah | November 20, 2006 8:16 PM

Well I love my little dog and I love my family. Do I worry when my little dog is sick yes. Do I take the dog to the vet for check ups- current shots and illness, yes.

Do I worry when my child is ill - yes. Do I take my child to the Dr.s for chekc ups, current shots and illness yes.

Do I worry when I am ill - yes - Do I go to the Dr.s for check ups current shots and illness yes.

Am I an obsessed pet owner -mother- person
No - Balance and love most importantly it all gets back to keep it simple- in mind spirit, attention and actions.

Pets are pets - children are children - people are people when you keep it balanced and simple - all concern, love and attention can be placed at the appropriate times- anytime without a sense that you are obsessing more towards one vs. the other.

Posted by: verdi | November 21, 2006 9:00 AM

We are childless parents to two cats. I have to say if I am so blessed with children eventually, I would never leave them alone for three days (max) with an automatic feeder a big bowl of water... it's a whole different ball game.

However, I do think pet owners make better employees. Studies show they tend to be more relaxed, and large dog owners tend to be in better physical shape. Pet owners tend to be more responsible and more sensitve... makes up for those puppy years when the dog owner has to run out of work a couple times a day because they are crate training. I like people who work for me to have other things in their lives besides work, and if they don't have children (or the children are grown) pets can be an excellent substitute.

But no where close to the real thing.

Posted by: Susan | November 21, 2006 9:02 AM

I love my dog, and as a pet owner, I often find a lot of common ground with parents. When my friends with kids talk about coming home to an enthusiastic greeting, enjoying unconditional love, cleaning up a mess after their child throws up, worrying about their child's sickness, or being woken up late at night, I completely understand and emphathize. I've been there. Having said that, pets are not a substitute for children. Never tell an infertile couple that they should get a pet if they can't have kids. It's just not the same thing.

Posted by: ljc | November 21, 2006 3:54 PM

Wow...I am married with a toddler son and before him were our 2 "babies", chihuahua mix brother and sister, and we at one point also had their mother but had to put her to sleep. I love animals, all animals. But they are a huge responsibility and expense. Vet bills, preventive medicine, boarding, grooming, etc. But i have always felt that they were worth it. I doted on them and treated them like my prince and pricess. Along came my son, big and clumsey, but my heart bursts when I think of him and how much I love him. Now, I must admit that it's extra work with the dogs around and my very "loving" and very active son. I have to not only make sure that he's not trying to "ride" one of them, but I have to make sure to teach him not to put his face in theirs so much, or leave them alone when they're sleeping, or don't try to share the dogfood while they'er eating, etc. The dogs love our son, and the feeling is mutual, but my son weights 30 pounds and my dogs weigh about 5 and 8 pounds each. Thank God they're quick! My son is learning compassion and empathy and for me, being greeted at the door everyday after a long day's work by wagging tails and kisses and licks from eveyrone is the BEST!

Posted by: lcd | November 22, 2006 9:44 AM

I have a dog that I love very much, and I want to have kids someday. When it really comes down to it, as humans we have I biological instinct to protect our genetic material though our children. Pets are wonderful, but the survival of our species doesn't depend on them.

Posted by: cf | November 22, 2006 6:02 PM

Also, I have been babysitting the same kids for 9 years. I love my dog, and the kids are not even mine, but if I had to choose, I would choose the kids.

Posted by: cf | November 22, 2006 6:05 PM

Pet ownership has been shown to lower blood pressure. Kids can certainly raise blood pressure. Does that suggest medical grounds for a preference? No. Rather it suggests that if you have kids, you'd do well to get a pet.

Posted by: artistry | November 22, 2006 8:22 PM

I think taking care of a pet is a great preparation for being a parent. You are responsible for another living being's health and happiness. If you fail to take good care of your pet, don't have children, because you will not be a good parent. I have an ADHD nephew who cannot take care if his pets and the others around him must pick up the slack. Obviously, he is not a good candidate for fatherhood. When evaluating someone as marriage material, ask yourself, "Do I want kids? Is s/he the kind of person I would want to raise a child with?" How will you know? Look at how that person treats pets. I believe this is an excellent predictor for how they will be as a parent.

Posted by: rb | November 29, 2006 4:33 PM

Obviously, children deserve more attention than do pets. I would not argue that pets are more important.

However, studies have shown that people with pets live longer and have less stress and lower blood pressure, on average, than people without pets.

Whenver I visit the animal shelter, I am dismayed by the self-absorbed excuses given by people for giving up their pets. This is a real shame in America and the world. I laud the state of Nevada, which pledged to spay and neuter every animal and not put any to sleep if the citizens of that state would adopt them. They did.

We were given dominion over all of the other animals, it says in the Bible. I believe we are responsible for the other living creatures with whom we share this earth. When you look at how we are destroying the environment, we should be ashamed at how we are shirking our responsibility to the other living things on earth. Each oil spill, fish kill, Chesapeake Bay dead zone, and new species added to the endangered list is cause for concern and reflection.

We are not living up to the responsibility God gave us. Is this the world you want your children to grow up in?

Posted by: rb | November 29, 2006 4:55 PM

Having children is a lifestyle choice. Having pets is a lifestyle choice. Having neither is a lifestyle choice. If someone were to accommodate the first choice and not the others, that would be the definition of discrimination. To honor each choice equally would be the egalitarian ideal.

My personal issue comes up in the workplace when a co-worker with children is frequently given special accommodations to leave work at any time because of a child's school or illness, but a co-worker with equally (personally) important geriatric dog issues was not given comparative allowances. And let me add that the dog-owner co-worker was a MUCH better performer. I find this insensitive and biased -- but what to do?

Posted by: Silver Spring Woman | December 4, 2006 3:50 PM

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