What's So Wrong With Treating My Dog Like a Child?

NeoNot all pet lovers are created equally. I didn't realize that until I got married. In my family, our dogs were like another kid. I mean that literally. At Christmas, they received a bunch of presents. Their birthdays were celebrated. They came along for family gatherings. So I was shocked the first time I visited my husband's family and saw that "family pet" took on a totally different definition.

When we pulled up to the house, his dog was kept in a pen along the garage. I thought it was a bit chilly out so I asked when the dog was coming in. That's when I was told dogs weren't allowed in the house. That completely stopped me in my tracks. It's not like they lived in sunny-year-round Malibu. This was New Jersey. But my then-boyfriend assured me that they had a nice, warm dog house in the garage for him and if that ever got too cold, they led him into the basement through a side entrance to the house.

While I was a bit surprised, the dog certainly seemed happy and content with this living arrangement. I didn't think much of his family's pet philosophy until years later when we were married and adopted an adorable Shih Tzu we named Neo. It was around the holidays so naturally I had picture Christmas cars made featuring Neo. It would be an understatement to say that didn't go over well. While my mother gushed about how cute her "grand-dog" was, my mother-in-law asked that in the future I not send their family "dog cards." I was a bit insulted. As far as I was concerned, Neo was like my kid.

neoShe was equally dismayed when I brought Neo along for a visit and wanted him to stay in the house with us. Remember, a dog had never been in her living room before. Since she could tell neither I or her son would be okay lodging our dog in the garage, she reluctantly relented and let him run into her house. It was very hard for them to accept that I thought of this animal as a child. But as strange as I thought their reaction was, there are plenty of people who would agree with them. Many people find it ridiculous to buy a dog clothes, pay to fly with them, or take him to doggie daycare (which Neo used to attend three days a weeks). My mother-in-law eventually came around after a couple of years. Now she loves Neo as much as I do -- well, almost.

Even though I have a son now, I still very much consider Neo my first child in a lot of ways. Not every new mom can still find time to pamper their pet and that's sad for them and the pet. It's tough to give Neo the TLC he's used to, but I certainly try. He was the first pet that I had that was really all my own. The first that I was really responsible for. I still baby him, taking him to play at local pet spas occasionally and visiting restaurants with outdoor seating so he can join us. He is a very important part of our lives. I know many people feel as I do too. A pet's love is a very special thing. How could you not baby them?

Do you treat your pet like a child?


Imaged via Ericka Souter




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nonmember avatar Ligeia

Yes! My two cats are on the Christmas card, get Birthday parties, have favorite movies they like to watch. For Christmas this year they are getting a Star Trek themed cat tree. They both love to watch DS9

tuffy... tuffymama

I don't care for dogs in the house, really, but all the dogs I've had have lived indoors LOL. Our two furry brats are currently hogging up the whole foyer, and snoozing like they get paid to do it. My American Bulldog is my baby daughter. XH has custody and it just kills me to live away from her. She has her own sofa. My pitbull that was poisoned to death when I was pregnant with my oldest had his own seatbelt in the car, and went to work with me every day. He went to school in my purse or in a baby sling when he was a newborn, because he was rejected by his mother, and I had to keep him near at all times, and bottle feed him all day and night. So he was like my first baby, really.

My dad NEVER lets his dogs in the house. They live outside, rain or shine, cold or hot. But they have dogloos, are happy, are well fed, and they have the run of the farm. They're checked for ticks regularly, get raw beef bones weekly, and they have my grandmother and their dog friends who visit them regularly. I don't think it's a bad life, because they seem to enjoy themselves.

nonmember avatar Mel

Wow no wonder your mother in law thought you were crazy. Considered first child? Are you insane? Might as well divorce your husband and marry your dog.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Treating your dogs like your kids is fine... to a point. And this is coming from a Dog Mom. I would NEVER bring my dog to someone's house for a visit without checking with them first and determining what THEIR comfort level is. After all, it is THEIR house, and this is, after all, an animal.

It was tremendously rude of you, in my opinion, to just bring your dog to your mother-in-law's house and expect her to bend her house rules to suit your whims. Doing things like that is what makes non-pet people despise us. I liken it to walking your dog and not picking up after it. Just because YOU love your dog to distraction (and I can totally understand it), others don't.

Coles... Coles_mom

I'm not a dog person. And I wouldn't let one in my house.

nonmember avatar IslandMomOf4

Nothing wrong with it at all but you should've asked his parents before taking the dog to visit. It was bitchy of her to request no cards with photos of the dog on them. She should be thankful someone thinks enough of her to send her a card!

redK8... redK8blueSt8

There is nothing wrong in treating your dog like a child, but it IS wrong to expect others to. You may treat your dog as a person but it is not a person, it is an animal. It was annoying that your MIL asked that cards not have the dog on them, but understandable if it was ONLY the dog, she wants to see you two too!  I think it was outrageously rude and presumptuous of you to bring Neo to your in-laws house, knowing full and well that dogs were not welcome inside. You put your mother-in-law in the terrible position of compromising her house rules and feelings just to keep the peace with her bratty daughter-in-law.

MaryC... MaryCimino

I always ask if it's OK for me to bring my Chihuahua Tiny. She just turned 10 and is frail. My friends think it's cute considering I've had her for 6 of those 10 years when I rescued her from a puppy mill. I crochet her sweaters and spend very little on coats for her. It's kind of wrong to expect your MIL to when you brought her into her house.

booba... boobarandbell

I'm a dog mom, and i treat my dogs like my kids, to a piont. In my house, they are spoiled and pampered, but i would never take them anywhere without asking first, that's just common respect. I would be offended if someone just brought their cats to my house, becasue i'm extremely allergic. When someone new visits i always ask if they are allergic. If they are, i put my dogs in the bedroom while they are here. But if someone asked me not to send 'dog cards', well, they can just throw them away, they don't have to be rude about it. 

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

The only part I see a problem with is bringing a dog along without asking first and knowing full well it's not allowed. I think she gets MAJOR points for not making you turn around or tie your dog outside. While my dogs have the run of the place, unannounced dogs are never welcome here. Ask and it's usually fine.

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