When people say that – I want to throw a copy of Marley and Me at them so it stamps across their forehead. Here’s the truth: dogs are nothing like kids. Boom. I said it.
I wonder how many of these people saying this, actually have kids. Sure, we get them as puppies and they’re the BEST thing ever – they’re sweet, adorable, have puppy breath, and pee all over the house…the BEST! They go to the vet every few weeks for shots, check ups, spay/neuter surgery (because I know we’re all responsible) if it hasn’t been done yet. They get tons of cute toys, bowls, collars, clothes even. Sounds kind of like what we do for children so far…
Then life happens. The cuteness wears off and their chewing on your hands and feet of the furniture is no longer sweet. Finally they’re potty trained! Finally they’re not biting everything! We can trust them to be alone for longer periods of time; which is great because we have practice, games, lessons, homework, church, bible study, and girl’s nights to attend. Sorry puppy – this is life.
Occasionally we make it to the dog park or beach but it’s too hot and far to stay for long. Walks become few and far between; it’s ok, the backyard will do. Your puppy is a few years old now but still gets as excited as the first time they saw you when you walk through the door. You either yell at them to get down, go on, or fight to keep them from running off. You go about your business barely acknowledging them.
They stick with you through it all though. They’re willing and ready for the moment you’re ready to spend time with them. You are their world. They are more than happy to wait for you.
Do your kids act that way? I didn’t think so. By the time your kids are 13, they have it all figured out and are SO ready to move out. They are learning how to navigate electronics by the time they’re 2 (only the most educational games of course) but can’t get a glass of water by themselves at 6. They never fear to tell you that they’re hungry, bored, not feeling well, or how much they just love you right now (or don’t). They can tell you loud and clear that they’re sad, angry, or disgusted by something without saying a word.
Your dog? Your dog will never be mad at your for being too busy for them. They need you for every single thing in their lives, every single day, for the rest of their lives. There won’t be a day where they won’t need you. There won’t be a day that they don’t love you. Your dog can’t tell you how they’re feeling but they can show you. Eating a shoe? Bored. Barking at strangers? Uncomfortable. Not eating? Not feeling well. What about when it comes to their health.
They can’t tell you how much it hurts to get up and down, how exhausting it is to get on and off the couch, how heartbreaking it is for them that they can’t even manage to stand up to greet you when you walk in the door anymore. They can’t tell you how tired they are.
Your dog is not like a child at all. A child grows up to be independent and moves into society. Your dog grows older still dependent on you for everything. What a dog desires the most? You. Your love, your time, your companionship. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing with them, as long as you’re with them. A pat on the head, a good ear (or butt) scratch is what they long for all day. You are their whole world.
There will come a time when you have to make one of the hardest, most selfless decisions of your life. There will come a time when you have to decide to give your dog the most loving gift of all – freedom. Freedom from the tired aching body. Freedom from the painful joints and nutrient sucking tumors. Freedom to finally rest comfortably rather than hanging on, being strong for your sake.
So, if you’re ever walking down the street and see someone with Marley and Me imprinted on their foreheads – rest assured that I set them straight.