I read the following articles last week, both of which made me want to express my feelings/response as an overly obsessed dog mom herself, who enjoys coddling her dog more than the average dog parent.
The first of the articles, from Thought Catalog, lists 14 things insinuating your relationship with your dog is over the top. I couldn’t help but assume there was a typo in the title because I don’t think there is such a thing as having an unhealthy attachment to your dog. All 14 “signs” are part of my everyday life. The second article is written by a former critic of the pet industry’s catering to overly obsessed dog parents, who now has seen the light and is able to attest to how great life can be once you turn over to the dark side.
“But now that I have my own pet, what once felt like senseless indulgence seems more reasonable. Blinded by love, I will continue to buy Theo whatever squeaky toy he wants. It is a small price to pay for loyalty.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I probably would have read both of these articles in the past and been nodding along, but as I’ve now become emotionally invested in my dog to the point of no return, both articles made me glad that I’m one of those people who coddles their dogs.
Let’s back up real quick to why I felt compelled to write this post. If you recall, I wrote a post on Luna’s Gotcha day about a few qualities I’ve been able to improve upon since bringing a dog into my life (patience and selflessness, to name a few). Having a creature that is dependent on you kinda puts things into perspective; it made me snap out of any selfish tendencies I have (which is something I needed). I quickly became obsessively paranoid about giving Luna the best quality of life.
Now, it’s important to note that the benchmark I had for “good quality dog parenting” was top tier dog parenting. Just to paint you a picture, I thought it was normal to walk your dog twice a day for at least 45 minutes and cook food for them and have fancy kibble etc. I thought that anything I did subpar to that was insufficient for Luna’s health and happiness.
This attitude and lifestyle change eventually led me to turning down opportunities to spend time with friends. I’d say that I had to get home to walk the dog or feed the dog etc. Ever since becoming a doggy parent I’ve have to make a lot of sacrifices in order to make it work out, so that Luna has a good “life.” Because that’s what I want for her. I’m okay with having to turn down happy hour or a party if it means I’m going home instead to make sure Luna gets a walk or some cuddles. I didn’t adopt a dog so that she could spend her days in our apartment without any interaction or exercise. I made that choice long ago and knew fully well that my lifestyle would change for the sake of having a pet. The point is, I made that choice and can live with it. Hell, I actually enjoy it.
I do not see much of a difference, commitment wise, between having a child or a pet. Some people opt out of having children because they are able to fulfill that need through the relationship they have with their dogs. And I’mm pretty sure those people make a commitment to make their pets’ life the best they can because they have the time and resources to do so. Likewise, those who do have children made the commitment to devote their lives to their children, giving them the tools and opportunities to have fulfilling lives. The type of commitment for some dog parents (such as myself) is quite similar. Now, there may be a shift for me when I do have children one day, but in the meantime I have chosen to give this dog mama gig a solid effort.
I have a lot of friends and people in my life who have varying perspectives on how much attention a dog needs; none are right and none are wrong. It all really depends on how you define it for yourself and your dog. Some judge my lifestyle and approach to “dog parenting” because I tend to turn down events to opt for time at home with my dog. Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself in these scenarios. But I’m kind of sick of that. First off, I don’t think I should have to defend my position if it works for me. Second, most people judge that I’m making the wrong choice because they think that I’m making a decision that is not in the best interest of my life.
The thing is, I got a dog for the emotional support and love she brings to my life. Having a dog is a two way street; for all the unconditional love Luna gives me, I also have to give her a life I think she deserves which is defined by what works for me. If I didn’t think it was best for my life, too, I wouldn’t be doing it! I’m super selfish at heart but it’ll be a cold day in hell if I ever decide to not do the best job I can for those who cannot speak and act for themselves, fur baby or not.
Im not unhappy with the routine or sacrifices that had to be made but I’m aware of how selfless of a job it is. Luna will never say thank you for the things I’ve done for or given her, unless the pet industry decides to come up with some stellar device allowing me to read my dogs mind or convert her barks to English language, but until then it’s negligible.
If the pet industry wants to put out more products or means that enable me to coddle my Luna girl, I AM ALL FOR IT. Take the Pet Cube for instance. This product is essentially a video camera that allows you to interact with your dog while you are away from home. Skeptics will say this is over the top. But is it really? Is it really any different than having one of those new age baby monitors with a video camera? I know human babies are more delicate and fragile and cannot be left unattended, and dogs can entertain themselves for the most part, but I’m merely trying to identify that to some, the excessive measures to keep your pets safe and happy are all coming from the heart. If we cannot agree on that, then what can we agree on?
I know some won’t agree with my approach as an overly obsessed dog mom, but at least I am practicing what I preach and have the best intentions for my pupperoni.