How Getting A Dog Is Exactly (And Not At All) Like Having Another Baby

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Before my husband and I got married, he swore that he would never agree to a family pet. So nobody was more surprised than me when our daughter started asking for a pet hamster last year and he casually suggested that “maybe we should get a dog instead.”

Ironically, I turned out to be the parent who was less than enthusiastic about bringing an animal into our already hectic household. I did not want a dog. Or a hamster.  Or a fish. Or any other type of animal that would create more work and responsibility for me.

Here’s the thing: I’m finished having babies. My children sleep through the night. They go to school all day. They can dress themselves, bathe themselves and, when necessary, make dinner for themselves too.  

After years of attachment-style parenting – breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, always putting my children’s needs ahead of my own – these things are huge. Suddenly, I’m at a point in my life where I am able to work, sleep, grocery shop and use the restroom in peace. Why would I want to introduce another baby – of the human or fur variety – into this finally blissful existence?

I didn’t. And yet, because I love my kids – and because I was still in shock that my husband was agreeing to the idea in the first place – we recently added a Chihuahua named Bruiser to our family.  

I am, of course, head over heels in love with him. I also feel very much like I have another baby.      

Bruiser is a sweet, shy rescue dog who weighs about eight pounds and wants nothing more than to curl up under a blanket in any available lap. He cannot feed himself, bathe himself or see to his own bathroom needs. He prefers to be carried everywhere. He eats things off the floor. He follows me around the house constantly, always wanting my undivided attention while I’m trying to get things done.

Okay, maybe he’s more like having a toddler.    

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In the past few months, I’ve spent hours researching dog food ingredients, reading labels, and learning how to make our own. I’ve purchased doggie sweaters. I’ve researched pet vets and immunizations, and had way too many conversations with my husband about the dog’s bowel movements and bathroom habits.

If you look at my browser’s search history, you will find several entries related to the health benefits of coconut oil for canines. There is a chance I’m going overboard. At least I can admit it.  

What I’ve discovered, though, is that maternal instincts are powerful and – in my experience at least – they do not discriminate. I’m still very much in “mom mode,” and as my human children become increasingly self-sufficient, I can’t help but enjoy taking care of a little guy who depends on me so completely.

However, the really amazing thing about Bruiser is that, even though he is like having another child in so many ways, he is nowhere near as demanding as a real baby would be.

This, I think, is his real appeal.

Bruiser climbs happily into his doggie bed every night and sleeps until the rest of us get up in the morning. He doesn’t cry. He loves to snuggle, but doesn’t complain when you have to put him down. He can be left at home alone. And he can’t talk, which means that, unlike my children, he doesn’t feel the need to point out my flaws and failings on a daily (if not hourly) basis.

Don’t get me wrong, human babies are wonderful. But I’ve been there, done that, and I have zero interest in having another one. 

I might, however, be open to getting another dog.  

Alyssa Chirco
About Alyssa Chirco

Alyssa Chirco is a freelance journalist and mother of two. Although she can rarely get her whole family together at the dinner table, she serves family breakfast (even if it’s just cold cereal) every morning. 

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