So what does this have to do with a puppy? Well I wanted a running buddy for starters and at the time I was still in the mind-set of never having children. A dog seemed like a perfect way to find out. Granted, getting a pet, is a HUGE commitment and it took us a year before getting one. Sad thing is, babies are a bigger commitment, but people seem to always leap in when it comes to babies rather than thinking ahead to the staying up all night and constant crying. Yet, when it comes to pets, I know a lot of people who will say no because of the work involved. Crazy right?
Anyway, we decided a young puppy would be too much for us (we're cat people) and ended up adopting Lexie, a border collie/sheltie mix. At the time we got her she was around 7 months old. She was already pretty much potty trained (had a few accidents, but that's to be expected in a new home) and she was already kennel trained (cried the first night, but was fine after that, just needed to get used to her new surroundings).
One thing I remember is bursting into tears a few weeks after we got her. It was such a huge change to my lifestyle. I never had to take the cats outside to go potty, I didn't have to walk the cats, Lexie demanded my attention. I decided on obedience class to see if that would help, and it did, it gave me the tools to teach Lexie to sit, lie down, and even roll over. So now, almost a year later, I love her to bits. We go running together when it's nice out, cuddle on the couch, she knows how to ring a bell to go outside so I don't have to worry about watching the time, she just lets me know she needs to go out by ringing the bell. It's a great system!
Lexie opened the door to the possibility of wanting a child. A baby is probably going to be a hundred times more work than a dog, but if I was able to adjust to having a puppy, I think I can adjust to having a child. It's going to be hard, that's for sure, a puppy was no piece of cake for me; I'm not good with change. I'll probably cry a lot, but I hear it's worth it. It's too bad the only way to find out is to have a baby.
So how exactly is a puppy like a baby?
- Both need their poop picked up after them - baby will eventually grow up, but picking up after a dog helps you get used to seeing and touching poop (with a plastic bag of course).
- You have to potty train both - we skipped this step by not getting such a young puppy
- Both need attention.
- Dogs will make messes, they throw up, play in mud, etc. and you will have to clean it up, a baby will make ten times as many messes as a dog. We lucked out and Lexie's only bad habit is destroying stuffed toys, Nylabones are the only thing she gets because of that.
- Dogs bark - babies cry (we lucked out and Lexie barks rarely, usually when the doorbell rings, but we have neighbors whose dogs will bark constantly while outside).
- Both will need baths, and you have to bathe them, they can't do that themselves.
- Both teethe.
- You have to buy toys for both.
- Both will wake you in the middle of the night (puppy needs to go out, baby needs to eat).
- You will have to puppy proof/baby proof your home.
As you can see dogs and babies have a lot in common, but they are also very different. As your child grows, they begin to learn right from wrong. Kids can be punished, dogs can't. Dogs will never really listen to you. You can teach them commands, but they won't understand that something they did was wrong.
Dogs never grow up, they are a constant toddler in need of your love and attention, but a dog is a great way to see if you are willing to care for a child. However, a dog is a commitment, so make sure you can afford it and are willing to take care of it for 15 years (or longer!).
A baby is an even BIGGER commitment and yet people will often jump in without considering costs or the long-term care. A child will be your responsibility for 18 years and even after that, many parents still help their children out (don't forget grandchildren!), that's a commitment till you die versus a pet that lives for only around 15 years. Just food for thought.