Should we treat our pets like our children?
My dog, Cloudy, prompted a little thought this morning as she patiently waited for me to prepare her flea dip. She had her favorite teddy bear soft toy in her mouth and bowed, asking me to take her out for a play session.
It was not the first time she behaved like a child, or showed attachment to her “parents”.
Pet owners develop bonds with their dogs that others, family members included, find difficult to empathize with. There are times when I get quizzical looks for giving Cloudy a hug after she completes a run around the park.
There is a gnawing, or at least nibbling gap between pet and non-pet owners that needs addressing. Perhaps their fear of dogs came about because of a bad experience of being bitten by one. Their dislike could also stem from sheer revulsion brought on by pet owners who do not clear up after a walk in the park.
This gap always begs the question “Should we treat our dogs like our kids?”
The bond with a dog is one of implicit trust. Once formed, the dog sees you as its leader and looks to you to show it the way. As it follows you around, it shows its faith that your way is the right one. It trusts that you will not abandon or hurt it.
Their acceptance of our affection is unquestioning.
We love our dogs for the feelings of dependence that they give us. They make us feel needed. That need continues for its life.
A relationship with a dog is an innocent, uncomplicated one. It has no motives or particular reasons for its actions, and that is where its psyche stands apart from ours.
That naiveté is a real draw. Throw in unquestioning loyalty to the mix. There are times when you will come home to a spouse watching television, and he ignores you when you come through the door. It is always the dog that greets you.
You are probably assertive with a frisky dog which shows no sign of defiance or back talk.
Like all children, dogs emote, sometimes better than we do. They respond to your feelings of happiness, sorrow or anger. They understand tension, oftentimes better than humans can.
Treating dogs like children is a given, considering these very understandable reasons. Owners have to do it with the feelings of those who prefer not to own one in mind.
This means that pet owners need to take trouble to clean up after their pets, as much as non-owners should try to empathize and accommodate.
It also means that owners have to train dogs to heel and not jump up at passersby. They have to rein themselves in around other dogs.
With everyone in mind, dogs are like children.