May 9, 2011

When your dog is your baby: post mothers day blues

I can be overly sensitive, even when I know it's not rational...which happened yesterday during our Mothers Day celebration.

DH and I had a lovely gathering for our moms for cake. Joining us were our close friends who have a six-month-old baby.

I realize that dogs are not children, but since we don't have children, I tend to think of our dogs as 'my babies'. However the "real baby's" mom comes from a culture where dogs are not considered pets. She struggles with the idea of dogs living in the house. I don't really understand her perspective, but when she is over, I do try to keep the dogs away from her, or offer to lock the dogs in their kennel.

For the most part, the visit went well, but at one point, my puppy walked over to where she was sitting and licked the top of the baby's hand. Baby's mom looked horrified. She jumped up and went to the kitchen sink and scrubbed...and scrubbed...and scrubbed. She was clearly disgusted.

Now I'm no fan of dogs licking. I don't encourage it at all. But somehow in that moment, my heart felt broken.

I already feel badly that we don't have a baby of our own, and likely never will. I feel guilty that we've only given our moms grand-dogs. But to have my dogs regarded as filthy creatures by my friend who is lucky enough to have a child just hurt.

Yes, I know I'm in the wrong.

I realize that my friend is entitled to feel however she wants about dogs.

I realize that as a new mother she is naturally protective of her baby and doesn't want him exposed to germs.

But my feels are hurt.

I should just get over it, and I suppose I will, but tonight I feel sad that our little family isn't a "real" family...even if we sign our mothers day cards with love from both of us and the 'fur-kids'.


  1. Awww. Pets are people too! We call our black lab our first baby. Fur-daughter is often used.

    The thing is, when the momma bear gets poked, she rampages until she's sure her baby is safe. It's not rational and it can step on people's toes. Don't ask me how I know this.

    In my husband's culture, dogs are outdoor animals, not coddled pets so I know the dynamic you are talking about. His family thinks we are weird and probably dirty (because you know there is hair everywhere, I always say dog hair was the toddler's first food). Although our black lab has managed to worm her way into their affections, even if they are horrified that she gets to sleep on the couch.

    Hopefully your dogs will eventually bring her around with their cuteness.


  2. You are absolutely a real family! I'm sorry that your friend got so upset, but 1. She overreacted too (a little swipe with a baby wipe or Purell was more than sufficient) and 2. Doggie germs are going to help her baby's immune system and prevent development of allergies (she can thank you later). Seriously, just because you don't have a human baby doesn't make you any less of a mother. The definition of mothering is caring for something or someone that needs it--whether that be your own child, someone else's child, or an animal. If I knew you in real life, I would come over and totally let your dog lick me. :)

  3. M - I wish I could just give you a big hug for that comment. I know that mother bears are protective of their little cubs. I guess I am not too different. I hope some day my friend comes around to appreciate how much my animals mean to me.

    Red - Your comments brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for reminding me what being a mother is about. When I sit on the couch cuddling my oldest as he shivers through a thunderstorm, I really do feel like a mom. If I knew you in real life, you would be very popular with the fur dudes - they don't get many opportunities to cover people in licks!

  4. What is the point of this post other than to encourage sympathetic responses?

    If your friend has this many issues, consider only spending time together at her home. You are not in the wrong for having a dog and loving it.

    If you're called to be a mother, there are many options for having children and they should all be considered. If it doesn't work out there are still many other ways to be nurturing to young children, for starters, what you already do well in your role as a physician. It's ludicrous to say you don't have a real family (over something so silly as a dog licking gone wrong) and somehow I think you know that.

  5. Anonymous poster - I think you should back off! Posts can be made to encourage sympathy - it's her blog! Not to mention the fact that we in the blog community do just that - offer sympathy, encouragement, and advice when needed. Her emotions are HERS, and thus, they are valid. I can understand why she feels as if she doesn't have a "real" family with the dogs, and to call her feelings ludicrous is... well... ludicrious!

    Penelope - You write what you want, when you want, however you want/need to! We're here for you girl!! and NOT anonymous!

    I'm sorry you were hurting. Your dog paranoid friend is gonna have an early heart attack if she's THAT paranoid about germs - it was only one little lick! geez


  6. Jamie, thanks for that lovely reply, and for your supportive words. You really are "Mrs. Nice".

  7. Your friend overreacted. Dog saliva is cleaner by far than human saliva.