Should we treat our pets like our children?
My dog Cloudy did a bit of thinking this morning as she patiently waited for me to make her flea dip. She had her favorite teddy bear in her mouth, bowed and asked me to play with her.
It wasn’t the first time she’d acted like a child or shown attachment to her “parents.”
Pet owners develop bonds with their dogs that others, including family members, find difficult to empathize with. There are times I get quizzical looks for hugging Cloudy after she walked through the park.
There’s a nagging, or at least nibbling, divide between pet and non-pet owners that needs to be addressed. Perhaps her fear of dogs stems from a bad experience of being bitten by a dog. Their dislike could also stem from sheer disgust evoked by pet owners who don’t clean up after a walk in the park.
This gap always raises the question, “Should we treat our dogs like our children?”
Bonding with a dog is one of implicit trust. Once formed, the dog sees you as his leader and looks to you to show him the way. As it follows you, it shows its belief that your path is the right one. It trusts that you will not give it up or hurt it.
Your acceptance of our affection is unquestioned.
We love our dogs for the sense of dependency they give us. They make us feel needed. This need continues throughout life.
A relationship with a dog is an innocent, uncomplicated one. It has no motives or special reasons for its actions, and this is where its psyche differs from ours.
This naivety is a real attraction. Add unconditional loyalty to the mix. There are times when you come up to a spouse who is watching TV and he ignores you as you walk through the door. It’s always the dog who greets you.
You are likely to be self-conscious towards a playful dog that shows no signs of defiance or counter-speech.
Like all children, dogs radiate, sometimes better than we do. They respond to your feelings of happiness, sadness, or anger. They understand tension, often better than humans.
Treating dogs like children is a matter of course for these very understandable reasons. Owners must consider the feelings of those who prefer not to own one.
This means that pet owners need to make an effort to clean up after their pets, just as non-owners should try to be empathetic and accommodating.
It also means that owners must train dogs to heel and not jump up on passers-by. They need to restrain themselves around other dogs.
Dogs are like children.
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