“Don’t compare your dog to my kid.”
I’m sure I’m not the only pet parent who has encountered this retort when chatting it up with a coworker or friend of a friend; slash parent. I’ve been conditioned to preface my own two cents with an, “I know it’s not the same, but…” or, “I’m not saying my pet is at the same level as your child, but…” And as I jump in with one of my go-to phrases, I can typically see the tension release from their death stares—even if just a little.
Sure, I could just let the parents of tiny humans drive the conversation and take the backseat, but my two Chiweenies, Dodger and Daisy, aren’t just my dogs, they are my family. Their health and happiness are just as important to me as my coworker’s kid’s health and happiness are to them.
I have always had the same hopes for my pets as most parents have for their kids. Since the day I adopted them, I wanted them to be healthy, safe and happy. I wanted them to be independent and caring. I wanted them to be friendly, I wanted them to share.
Our weekend outings are usually decided upon with one qualifier in mind: Is it dog-friendly?
And yes, I have a pet stroller. No, I’m not embarrassed to use it. Sure, some people give us a giggle as we stroll by them at the farmer’s market and others will roll their eyes. This is also when I hear the old, “Oh, just wait until you have kids.” As if once I had a human child of my own, my dogs would be regulated back to the floor where they belong.
Well, my baby just turned 3 months old and my dogs are still sleeping in bed with us. My pet sitter cam is now the nanny cam. The three of them all nap together during the day. Dodger and Daisy won’t let my baby cry for a second before they’re jumping at our knees to go help her. Daisy wakes up with me every two hours while I feed the baby—eyes half open, by our sides no matter the hour.
I look at my baby girl and I think that I want her to be happy, healthy and safe. That I want her to be independent, caring and friendly.
The wait for having a child is over and I can’t say there was this all-encompassing shift where my baby suddenly outweighed my pets. I know that people might judge me for saying this—for comparing my love for my own child to my love for my pets. I know that some people won’t understand how I feel. But, they’re not a part of my family.
I couldn’t wait for her to meet them. I can’t wait to watch her grow up with them. I look forward to seeing her care for them and share with them. I hope she can learn from them, like I have.
I may have a new baby at home, but this isn’t my first Mother’s Day. Dodger and Daisy aren’t any less loved—they may be more tired, but that’s just a part of being in a family with a 3-month-old.
Caitlin serves as Chewy’s Executive Editor and Resident Pet Expert, overseeing all things content related, including Chewy’s blog, BeChewy, as well as petMD.com. Caitlin has been a writer, editor and digital content strategist for various brands and publications, including L’Oréal Paris USA, Bonnier Corporation and Meredith Corporation. She has also appeared as an expert throughout various media outlets, including Bustle, Romper, InStyle, AM New York and more.