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My Child, My Dog

Updated on November 20, 2008
Jack in the trunk of the car. (Disclaimer: I do not actually make my dogs ride in the trunk of the car. I swear.)
Jack in the trunk of the car. (Disclaimer: I do not actually make my dogs ride in the trunk of the car. I swear.)
Diane lounging in bed.
Diane lounging in bed.
Jack (L) and Diane (R)
Jack (L) and Diane (R)

Will we ever progress from four-legged children to the two-legged variety?

 

"Hi, Daddy! I missed you today!"

"Hi, Baby! Were you a good girl?"

"I'm always a good girl, Daddy. And guess what! Mommy gave me a cookie!"

Cute, eh? Does it lose its cuteness when I confess that this exchange didn't take place between my husband and our daughter but, rather, my husband and our dog (with me speaking for her, of course)?

Yeah, we're THOSE people. The crazy dog owners, that is.

My husband and I have two Vizslas, littermates Jack and Diane, and they're our world. Jack spends much of his time at "boarding school" - he's trained for field trial work and spends several months each year with his handler/trainer a few states away. Diane spends most of her time on the couch, in her recliner, or in the middle of our king size bed.

The pictures we have of our dogs easily rival those that most couples in our age group have of their children: Jack standing in the trunk of my car; Jack and Diane sleeping curled up together, her head resting on top of his, in the backseat of the car; Diane wearing adorable, blue denim panties when she went into season shortly after we brought her home; A close-up shot of Jack's big, noble head; Diane looking regal in the dining room of our former home.

Oh, and the cutesy stories we love to share with others: How Diane tried to bite a porcupine and was rewarded with a snout full of quills; how Jackie can't sleep in our bed because of his insistance on checking to be sure his boy parts are still attached every 15 - 20 minutes all night long; how Diane wakes my husband at 4:30 each morning for her breakfast by smacking him in the head with a paw; the list is endless. We even refer to them as "the children."

Our family, friends, and coworkers all coo obligingly over the pictures, and laugh politely at the stories. Invariably, however, the question is asked.

"So, are you guys ever going to have REAL kids?"

At first, I feel a bit sheepish, realizing how ridiculous I must sound to sane people when I rhapsodize about my four-legged babies. Then I remember that it is something of a valid question.

Do we intend to have a human child? Absolutely. I'm 32 and my husband is 40. I hear the clock ticking and realize that I'm on the slow downward slide of fertility. Occasionally, when PMS is in full swing, I tear up over a diaper commercial, and I've informed my husband at various times that our dogs need a boy (or girl, I doubt that the dogs will be picky) to love them. But, you know how everyone says that you shouldn't wait for a "right" time to have children, because there's never a "right" time? Well, to us, the time is so not right that it is downright WRONG.

In the ten years that we've been together, we've moved six times. At present, we're living in a teeny tiny rental house with a stinky basement (Is it mold? Mildew? What's the difference, anyway? Is it why I keep getting sinus infections? How much snot can one woman produce?), two blocks away from a good full-time job that I don't love, while we look for a piece of land on which to build what I pray will become our retirement home. My husband's insurance career allows him to come home at 3:30 p.m. some days and not until 8:30 p.m. on others. I'm beginning online classes to finish my degree, and am in the fledgling stages of attempting to break into freelance writing, having just recently decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'm also dealing with a few health issues that I feel should be resolved (among them, the aforementioned snot issue) before we attempt to conceive.

Could we have a child under these conditions? Sure. To us, though, a child deserves stability, and our lifestyle just doesn't provide enough of that at this point. Besides, a 50 pound dog with sad eyes and a cold, wet nose in the center of the bed is a very effective form of birth control.

I am sometimes concerned that the time will never be less wrong for us to have a child. Being [at least] a smidgeon neurotic, I also worry about the influences of things beyond my control. What if another 9/11-style attack occurs? How would I explain something like that to a child? What if I'm not emotionally strong enough to handle the angst of the teen years? I haven't yet shared these fears with my husband to determine how he will help me to overcome them, and I know these are issues I'll never have to address with Jack and Diane. The biggest things I have to worry about with them are making sure that muddy feet are wiped before they come into the house, and avoiding their kisses on days when I have observed them eating their own poop.

I guess for now, we'll continue to shower our dogs with our love and affection, talk to them and talk about them to anyone who will listen, and let those around us worry about our sanity until the day when we're ready to bring a baby into our odd little fold . We may not be the perfect image of the stereotypical family right now, but we are, however, a happy family.

Diane just wagged her tail in agreement.

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    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 

      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      I would be lost without my animals, really. Two dogs, one cat, lots of silly voices, dogs-in-trouble-stories, cat in the cupboard, and everybody fighting over the same pillow.

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi, Joe... A spoiled dog is the best kind to have, IMO. Your Kiera sounds like a sweetie.

      We just got Jack home from his handler a few weeks ago, and it is wonderful to have both of our kids with us. It's funny that you say that you won't leave Kiera behind. Most of our vacations are actually long weekends to go see Jack compete in field trials, and we always make sure we take a vehicle large enough to accomodate Diane's crate so that she can travel with us.

      Thanks for reading!

    • rockinjoe profile image

      Joseph Addams 

      10 years ago from Standing right behind you!

      I know what it's like to be doggy parents. We don't have human kids-and we've been married for 15 years. We've had our lab mix, Kiera for 9 of those years so far. Our friends and relatives think we're nuts. We won't go on a vacation because we won't leave her locked up for a week in some jail or with relatives. We don't have any we trust enough. We've spoiled this dog horribly since we got her, but she gives it back a million times over. She's on the bed with my wife now. She'll have to move over in a bit...I'm getting tired:)

      Jack and Diane look awesome.

    • ajcor profile image

      ajcor 

      10 years ago from NSW. Australia

      Em I fully understand your love for your dogs - we have 2 furkids and needless to say we dote on Harriett and Humphrey, they are so loving, and we are the centre of their universe - what more can a person ask than to be given so much love... children are absoltley great and I think raising dogs (tongue in cheek here) is great practise!!! ... you will be fine - most people are and I think the worriers may be even better....

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi, Trish! Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading. I've never lost an animal to an accident like your mom experienced with poor Barney (knock on wood!), but I imagine it was very traumatic for her. Even a loss that is anticipated is heartwrenching.

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 

      10 years ago

      Hi Em,

      A very nice hub.  My mom spoiled her dogs rotten.  When she'd go on vacation, she'd leave me instructions.  There's a small roast in the fridge, please cook it for the dog.  Right!  Sadly, after only having them for a few months, there came a knock at her door.  It was a policeman holding a dog, and he asked her, was it hers.  Yes, it was her beloved Barney, a very young dog, maybe a year old.  He had been hit by a car.  My mom was so upset she landed in the hospital.

      She was left with her last dog, a small terrier, Fred, and she had a custom seat made for him to sit on in the front seat of the car, front and center, so he could see out the window.  All I could do was shake my head lol.

      Your dogs are beautiful.

      I have owned my share of dogs, I loved them all and I miss them.  Right now I am just a cat lady.

      As far as children, if it's meant to be, it will happen, and you'll do just fine.

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Zsuzsy - Thanks for the compliment on my dogs. They think they're pretty cute, and I have to agree with them. :)

      Christoph - I remember reading about your pal Elvis. He sounds as though he was a wonderful boy.

      Countrywomen - Thanks for reading!

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 

      10 years ago from Washington, USA

      Em- You and your husband know when is the right time for you guys to have a child. Meanwhile enjoy the company of such wonderful "children". I pray everything works out for you guys soon. Good personal hub.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      10 years ago from St. Louis

      I love this story, Em. I am an ardent dog lover and i understand perfectly. My dalmation Elvis was undoubtedly my baby and my buddy. I'll spare you the "precious details", but he and I lived alone together for several years (then I added a 2nd dog - and then eventually married) and we really became close. I loved your descriptions of your pictures. I wanted to see them...really!

      Very well written too! Thanks for a great read!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Em! Vizsla are not that popular around here. Yours are absolutely gorgeous. My cousin in Hungary has a kennel and raises them. As for dogs being your children that's quite normal as far as I'm concerned. I'm a proud grandmama to 5 four legged grandkids along with two, two legged ones. Family is family.

      Great hub... about the kids... well if you're meant to have them they'll come, opportune timing or not, and once you have them you will be able to handle everything that they could possibly throw your way.

      Kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi, Susan! Thanks for stopping by. Doesn't it just make you feel so loved when all your dog wants is to be with you? :)

    • profile image

      Susan 

      10 years ago

      My children are grown and I have a very cute little weinie mix dog who cuddles with me every night! When I am at the computer he is in my arms being hugged. When I am not paying him attention he is in my bed all covered up with the blankets! I do not know what i would do without my baby I would probaly be lonely! He is my picture on my hub page. He was laying in bed smiling!

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Successful Mom - Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to get some perspective from someone who has "been there; done that" as far as raising children goes.

      lajaded1 - LOL! I guess that's another pro to having pets rather than children. They don't move out. :)

    • lajaded1 profile image

      lajaded1 

      10 years ago from augusta ga

      em I know what you mean I love my furkids too my human children have all grown up and moved out but i love knowing that i have my furkids ps my friends have grown used to me telling stories about my furbabies!they all think I am specail (ed)lol

    • Successful Mom profile image

      Successful Mom 

      10 years ago from Northern Michigan

      You mentioned something about worrying if you are not emotionally strong enough to handle the angst of the teen years. That definitely hit home for me. Even though I already have two children, one in her teens and one creeping up... I STILL worry about that. How will I survive??!! But, once you become a mom and a dad, you just "do it". And, you wonder why you worried so much in the first place. It just all slides into place.

      I know how pets can become "one of the kids", it's like that in my home. Our dog Billy is just one of my boys. :)

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Thanks, Jackie!

    • profile image

      jackie 

      10 years ago

      cool stuff

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Wolfie - Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. I agree - other people's children often make me rethink my desire to have children and stick with dog parenting. In the long run, however, I know that I'm someone who was meant to have a child. My kid will just have dogs as siblings. :)

    • profile image

      Wolfie Rankin 

      10 years ago

      I'd rather have my dogs than kids anytime, occasionly a little part of me pines to be a dad, but when that happens, a quick trip to the local supermarket reminds me of why I'd rather have a dog around. If my sex could produce some wonderful rare creature then yeah, I'd rush to get out there and breed... but my child would be another human. not that I haven't loved other humans, but there's so many, I wonder what's the point of making more?

      Wolfie!

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi, Corrie! It's nice to know that I'm not alone. Thanks so much for stopping by, and give Rhea a hug for me! :)

    • profile image

      Corrie 

      10 years ago

      Em,

      My husband and I are the exact same way. We have a 10 month old yellow lab puppy named Rhea. I'm currently watching her play in the snow for the first time, and its adorable!! Rhea is pretty much my world and am always telling hilarious stories about her. I know people get tired of hearing about my hairy, 4 legged daughter and always ask when we are going to have "real kids". You're not the only one out there that is like that :)

      Corrie

    • Em Writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Em Writes 

      10 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi, Benson... three? I'm afraid the jump from zero to three children might be a bit drastic for me. Maybe if I could send a couple of them off to boarding school...? :)

      Thanks for reading!

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 

      10 years ago from Hong Kong

      Em,

      you can trade your dogs for my three children any time. Delivery costs will be on me.

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 

      10 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      You, your husband, and Jack and Diane get six meows of agreement and two humans saying "definitely"! Our house feels the same way as you do. In another couple years, we keep saying, but we'll see at that point.

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