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Pracitcal Tips for Being Friends

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I Put My Dog on the Phone

Panting, drooling, and weird unintelligible gnawing noises in between long stretches of silence, who wouldn't love to hear this on the phone?  Me. And everyone else, including grandparents, do not like being forced to listen to a baby on the phone. Yet parents seem oblivious to this.  So after "talking" to a baby, I will put my dog on the phone. A humorous way to get the point across, no? Apparently, no.

Am I complete idiot?  How dare I compare a BABY, a human child to   Can't I tell the difference?  All drooling creatures sound the same on the phone and I am sure the top linguist at the NSA couldn't tell the difference.

I am not bringing this up to clue in parents how tedious it is to be on the phone with someone who can't speak.  That's impossible.  I am calling attention to this because parents believe I and other childfree pet owners consider our animals to be our substitute kids. *Sigh*  This is what we get for trying to cleverly switch the tables by putting our pets on the phone? 

OK,  I can a little bit see how this happens.  We CF pet owners sometimes coo to our dogs, "Who's a good boy?" We worry about the diets of our cats more than we do about our own.  We include them in family holiday photos.  And I am sure we spend more time walking and playing with our pets than owners who have kids. So I can see why some parents think childfree pet owners have gone nuts and think our pets are our kids.  As a comment on one of my recent post (that had nothing to do with animals) admonished,  "They're not kids, they're pets!". And yet-- even the craziest Cat Lady, never for one second confuses her kitty for a kiddie.

We childfree pet owners understand that our pet will never require a $200,000 for college, won't wreck our car, or be anything but happy to see us 100% of the time.  There's no confusion on our end about the differences between pets and kids.

And it's not that we haven't been around kids.  There are (some) kids we like a lot.  For example, my husband and I love having our nephews and nieces visit. It's fun being the cool aunt and uncle.  And my husband volunteers as a Big Brother (where most volunteers do not have kids).  We love individual children.  And we love that we get to hand them back to the parents (and have a drink afterward).

Yes, we know we will not get the same incredible love if we had our own children.  We will also never have to understand the despair, guilt, and disappointment that comes with having our own kids.

And unlike most parents, we don't assume because we have a child we will be guaranteed of someone visiting us in our old age.  Most people in nursing homes are parents.  And nursing home employees can tell you many sad tales of children rarely (or never) visiting.   They know if you want a guarantee you will get a visitor that regularly sees you and will greet you with enthusiasm,  the only one you can count on is a  therapy dog.