File this one under: “You do you, boo.” (Kind of like this one.)
Anyways, some pet blogger friends and I had this conversation a while ago, and I’ve been meaning to write about it but kept putting it off. Part of me was like, Well, who really cares what you think about this topic. And part of me was like, Let’s not wade into that pond.
But, honestly? I’m kinda tired of seeing people picked on for how they choose to label themselves.
And, you guys, the comments that show up out there are just plain mean.
“Pet parenting” felt slightly too anthropomorphic for my taste. There are real risks to our pets’ well-being if we treat them like and expect them to be wired like and to behave like tiny humans. On the other side of that coin, “owner” implies Cooper is like my bike or my kitchen table.
Plus, I never felt like my animals were my children, but rather my friends. My partners.
Not that any of that matters to how you think of yourself with your pets.
Of course, now I do have a tiny human, and she’s just the greatest thing around. But she’s also made me realize just how similar caring for animals is to caring for tiny humans in a handful of key ways:
- As the parent, you spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with effluvia. Dogs with midnight diarrhea and babies with midnight diaper blowouts share a lot in common. Puke becomes a way of life (Newt.) and you deal with it and move on.
- My entire budget goes toward feeding my brood. I’m constantly almost out of milk or cat food.
- I mentioned earlier that dogs aren’t tiny humans. However, they have to live in a human world and therefore have to behave appropriately. It’s on me to teach my crew how to behave. While Violet is a tiny human, she didn’t come programmed with things like… not snatching a library book out of another kid’s hands or not throwing food during breakfast, among others. It’s on me to teach them all what is (and isn’t’) appropriate.
- They get bored easily. All of them. Toys (everyone), activities (Violet and Cooper), laser chase (cats and Violet), outside stuff (everyone), and Mama’s fifteenth consecutive performance of Itsy Bitsy Spider (Violet) can usually get us to lunchtime… but they all need enrichment and stimulation.
- Grooming–hair, nails, and teeth–is an attempt to clean something that’s actively trying to run away from you.
Last week, we were at Target picking up more wipes and milk and whatever else leads you to spend $100 when you only went in to buy two things…
Violet decided that she was going to clip the two pieces of the seat belt in the cart’s child seat. She had one piece of the buckle in each hand and was bashing them together because, you see, Violet doesn’t yet have the fine motor skills to actually accomplish that feat. So, I waited a minute while she bashed, and then I so-very-innocently said, “Would you like some help?” As I reached forward to snap the buckle together for her, Violet. lost. it.
Toddlers are an interesting breed.
She wanted the buckle clicked, but she couldn’t do it herself, but she didn’t want help, but she wanted the buckle clicked, but she couldn’t do it herself, so…. vicious cycle and meltdown.
In that moment, you know what I thought?
This is a lot like Coopsie seeing a dog across the street out on a walk!
He loves to play with other dogs. He can’t figure out how to behave when he sees one though. So he goes bananas, but then he doesn’t get to meet the other dog because he’s going bananas and so he gets frustrated and escalates the bananas until he’s on his back legs barking and crying his face off…
Violet doesn’t get the seatbelt clicked; Cooper doesn’t get to play with other dogs.
And then there’s me, standing there, waiting out their fit so we can move on with our shopping/walk.
Ultimately, parenting pets is pretty darn similar to parenting tiny humans. I now consider myself a pet parent. I’m a proud dog mom, cat mom, and Violet mom.
If you consider yourself a pet owner, that’s cool, too. In the end, it doesn’t matter. And not that you guys are any of the ones leaving the nasty, judgey comments, but when you’re navigating the internet and see someone label themselves as something different from you, remember that that’s totally fine. You’re not that person, right? So it’s not up to you to judge how they label themselves!
Discussions are cool–feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, or your own labels in the comments below–but mean, judgmental snark is uncool. Just do you, boo, and let others do them, too!
So, let’s hear it: Why do YOU call yourself with your pets? Are you a pet parent? A pet owner? Do you have a special name (like, Emmett and Lucas always “called” us Lady and Man)?