A few years ago, I found myself catching up with an former colleague who'd just had a baby. When it came time for my turn to give him an update, I was slightly embarrassed to find myself sharing that my partner and I had gotten a dog. And not because I was embarrassed by having a dog (I'm not, because dogs are awesome) but because I didn't mean to imply that getting a dog is like having a baby. Though, being the nice guy that he is, he quickly reassured me that actually, getting a puppy is a big deal, kind of like a dry run for parenthood (not that there's anything dry about house-training).
Flash forward to now, and my husband and I are the proud parents of an almost-2-year-old person and an almost-3-year-old dog (and also an almost 9-year-old rabbit, but that's another story for another day). There are days when I think my former co-worker was not too far off when comparing the two, and days when I can't help but think we were both naive to joke about it. Still, I have to admit that it's the closest thing I ever experienced to parenthood before I became a parent (followed closely by camp counseling, which had more fireside singing than motherhood has had...so far). Here's how having a dog prepares you for becoming a parent:
You're Unfazed By Slobbery Kisses
I didn't grow up with dogs, so I have mixed feelings about all the licking. However, now that my toddler is getting the hang of kisses, I can't help but notice some of the (wet and adorable) similarities.
You Know What It's Like To Clean Up After Another Living Creature
And, your gag reflex is stronger for it.
You Don't Take It Personally When Your Snuggle Attempts Are Refused
Have you ever tried to hug an excited puppy? It's about as easy as picking up a toddler who wants to keep playing with his trucks. You're used to being casually rejected by the people ("people") you love most, which helps you let go and love them as they're off doing their own thing. Totally important parenting lesson.
You're Accustomed To Being Climbed On
Usually, the dog is climbing over me just to get to his prime that allows him to survey the neighborhood (it's cool, I'm not offended). My toddler, on the other hand, climbs frequently and aggressively for reasons including but not limited to: snack access, a better view of the kitchen counter, and personal triumph.
You're Used To Feeding Someone
I'm not an expert, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that remembering to feed both your dog and your toddler should be pretty key parts of your day.
You've Had A Chance To Get Over Your Aversion To Body Fluids
Granted, I use the term "get over" loosely, because does anyone really get over an aversion to bodily fluids? That said, I am ~slightly~ better at dealing with them now that I've had practice responding.
You've Gotten Used To Functioning While Distracted By Overwhelming Cuteness
LOOK AT THOSE PAWS! This dog is clearly in the top 1% of all-time cuteness, tied with my own dog, and the dog(s) of anyone reading this, obviously.
Toys That Squeak Are The Norm
I can admit that I have occasionally mixed up a toddler toy with a dog toy. I blame it on the sleep deprivation, and the fact that they are identical.
You're Practiced In Not Stepping On Smaller Members Of Your Household
Our dog's tags do have a distinct jangle sound, so we can often (but not always) hear him coming; Our toddler is a toddler so we can often him hear, too. But every so often, one of them will slip into stealth mode, but thankfully no one's sustained any major injuries (knock on wood).
Random Noises Don't Phase You As Much
One of them has been known to yip and howl on occasion, and the other sometimes bumps into cupboards and gets really excited when someone knocks on the door. I'll let you guess which is which.
You Can Take A Photo Of Something That Never Sits Still
The photos don't all turn out perfectly, but you've developed resilience, and an appreciation for blurry images. They can be artsy, right?
You Recognize That Polite Look Other People Give When It's Clear That They Are Not As Enamored With Your Family Members As You Are
Fellow pet owners and parents know that subtle shift that happens when someone has grown tired of your endless scrolling, or when you realize you're not telling them anything they don't already know about parenthood or dog ownership. I promise, I try not to overdo it. That said, I tend to be overly excited about both so I apologize in advance for those I've yet to bombard with pictures and stories.