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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.


  1. I'm one of the childfree who does not see her two amazingly fun dogs as children or even pets, and it irritates me as well to see people treating their animals as if they are small children (as they are not and never will be human children - they are animals with their own unique needs), and so I resent this blog posting that sounds as if you speak for all childfree. However, I do fully support putting puppy or kitty over the phone to show parents that us childfree do not want to hear their kids slobbering and cooing over the phone. I think what is missing in that entire argument is that it's annoying to anyone to hear anything besides someone speaking over the phone - having to be stuck on the receiving end of something making unintelligible noises is a waste of your time.

    The age old garbage about how sad it is that there are old people rotting to death in nursing homes without their children visiting them is also irritating. I myself have worked in multiple nursing homes, and often these patients were abusive to these adult children. I do not at all blame them for not wanting to visit their abusers. So dear parents, if you want your child to visit you when you're old and in a nursing home, treat your children well. I notice it seems to be those people who feel entitled to their children visiting them usually are the abusive ones.

  2. Although I’ve yet to have anyone put a drooling baby on the phone I still love this post. It would drive me bats.

    I don’t have kids. I do have pets. And I am completely clear about the difference. Trust me, after you’ve watched your dog catch, kill and munch on a rabbit right in front of you, the anthropomorphizing goes right out the window.

    Not to belabor the pet thing too much (this wasn't the complete point of the post), kids or no kids, I think most pet owners do tend to see their pets as having human traits—some to a much higher degree than others. Just watch a few hundred episodes of The Dog Whisperer to see this. However, there is some common ground I think in caring for pets and raising kids. There is a grace and a humanity in doing both well and, actually, teaching a child how to be kind to animals and how to care for them is a very sweet intersection of those two things.

    As far as having children so that someone will be around to visit and/or care for us when we get old, like anything in life, nothing’s guaranteed. Just like when you have kids, I do not think you can ultimately control who and what they become.

  3. I'm childfree. I don't think my cat is a substitute for a child. Actually, I prefer to think that people have children because they can't have cats, but I know that view is not very popular....

    1. I prefer to think that way as well. Glad I'm not alone :)

  4. Funny! I actually have our dog because we can't have cats-- my husband is highly allergic.

  5. Hi there,

    I really hope you don't mind me asking you, but there was no other link available to send you a message...I put a question on Google about adding pages to my Blogger account and the search returned with your answer to a similar question...I have managed to add a page but I'm having trouble adding content to that page - everything I add seems to default to my 'Home' all I'm asking is how did you manage to add content to your other pages? Thanks and apologies for barging in to your blog like this!


  6. Either one is obnoxious. I don't want to talk to anyone but the person I called.

  7. As the only childless woman at a kids birthday recently every mum was giving an update on their kid in turn. When they came to me after a long pause I got asked 'and how's your rabbit' I wanted to reply we were so proud cause she just started on solids and was toilet training well bah!

  8. Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :)