I am amazed by the number of people who have, or are planning to have, children but tell me that they cannot imagine the ‘inconvenience’ of owning a dog. As someone who has 3 children, a dog and a cat, and works from a home office (guaranteeing that we all have lots of ‘quality time’ together) I have to break it to them… a dog will NEVER be as big an inconvenience as your children (not even if he is a poorly behaved fifty pound schnauzer with anxiety issues). Allow me to explain, in practical terms, why this is so:
1. Your dog’s food needs can be met by simply scooping kibble from a bag two or three times a day. Your children must consume a prescribed number of portions from each of the four food groups, on a daily basis. They will have allergies, ‘intolerances’ and personal preferences, as will the endless parade of friends they bring home. They will open the door to your refrigerator and visually inspect the $500+ worth of food until your milk goes bad and the lettuce wilts, then pronounce that ‘there’s nothing to eat’. The day you buy the giant cereal box (that doesn’t fit in any cupboard), they will decide that they no longer eat that brand. They will cut a 1/2 inch piece off a $10 chunk of mozzarella and leave the rest open on the counter. They will ‘go vegan’ as soon as you buy a deep freezer to store meat and return to their carnivore roots the moment you till up the backyard and plant a veggie garden.
2. Your dog is a nudist. Your children require underwear, outerwear, and an endless array of ‘middle’ wear. For the first sixteen years of life they will perpetually outgrow everything you buy, and for the rest of their teenage years they will spend an increasing amount of money on a decreasing amount of fabric (I have three daughters – this may not apply to sons). For each child in your home, there must be a hamper. The hamper will fill daily. It is like there is a tap somewhere on their bodies and it leaks dirty laundry. As the children age, you may be able to force them to ‘do their own’ laundry but this is a hollow victory because it means that they will run the washer with only their ‘favourite’ tshirt inside, then dump all of your towels out of the dryer and onto the dirty basement floor so that this beloved garment can be dried independently for 45 minutes in a machine the pre-dates ‘energy efficiency’.
3. Your dog doesn’t clean up after himself but he doesn’t really make much of a mess anyway. Vacuum up the hair and the house is back to rights! On the other hand… your children will never willingly make a bed, load or unload a dishwasher, or swipe a cloth over the kitchen counter. They will leave clothing on the floor, on chairs, on sofas (damn near anywhere except in those hampers you bought), and their shoes will stay exactly where they removed them (which is why you will often trip in the downstairs hallway!).
4. Your dog is illiterate. His educational needs are limited to a stint at obedience school (possibly failed) and the occasional stab at ‘clicker training’ (probably also a failure). If you are ‘lucky’ your children will go ALL the way educationally, leaving you with a re-mortgaged home, limited RRSPs, and a car that is too old to drive safely but too young to sell as an ‘antique’.
5. Your dog does not date. Chances are that your four-legged companion will be ‘fixed’ before his/her first birthday rolls around. Not so with the children! They will drag home an endless array of suitors. Some you will like (try not to … this is the ‘kiss of death’ when it comes to youthful romance… if you like him/her he is definitely on his/her way out!). Others will pounce on your every nerve (try not to openly wince… this will only make them more attractive in the eyes of your child). Regardless of your opinions, these objects of affection will take over your home, eat your food and at least temporarily, control your television remote.
As previously stated, I am both a mother and a pet person so you must believe me when I tell you that they wisest thing you can do, if you are determined to have children, is add a dog to the midst. I am not saying that the family dog will cost you nothing, financially or emotionally. But, I am saying that the dog will listen to you rant and rave about the children. And this alone makes owning a dog a necessity!