Full disclosure: I’ve done it myself.
Years ago, in my cynical pre-fatherhood stage, I compared babies to pets. Unfavorably, because at least pets have, as I wrote at the time, “furry upside.”
I stand by that, as I enjoy my still cynical mid-fatherhood stage. In many ways, pets are more rewarding than babies. Obviously, babies evolve, and eventually having a child has advantages over owning a dog or a cat (don’t even talk to me about birds and fish and gerbils and hamsters). Eventually.
Right now, I have a toddler. And sometimes I might rather have a puppy.
Not because such comparisons are ridiculous (fine, not only because), but because the experiences of owning a dog and owning a toddler are actually EXACTLY THE SAME.
Don’t believe me? Break it down for me, fellas.
Communicating: Both dogs and toddlers make guttural, subhuman noises to indicate displeasure. Both dogs and toddlers have a tendency to use their mouths to annoy and irritate owners and onlookers alike with constant, repetitive noise-making. Both dogs and toddlers have their own languages that, despite their owners ability to decipher them, pretty much leave anyone less familiar totally oblivious. Sure, toddlers can eventually speak in full sentences and hold conversations, but, like dogs, they’ll still occasionally lash out with teeth and claw should language escape them.
Eating: The major difference between feeding a dog and feeding a toddler is that a dog wants to eat all of his food and all of your food, whereas a toddler only wants to eat your food, even if it’s the same fucking food that’s on his plate.
Obedience: Here we have an issue. Dogs can be easily tricked. Reward a dog enough and eventually he’ll do whatever you want. Toddlers can be tricked too… for a little while. Until they realize you’ve been playing them and they seek revenge. Of course, there’s a decent chance they don’t realize it and they’re just fucking up your life for no reason. If a dog has behavioral problems, he was probably abused. If a dog misbehaves and breaks something or bites someone, it’s usually an accident or the result of legitimate provocation. When a toddler breaks something, If a toddler has behavioral problems, there’s a 50/50 chance he’s from a perfectly loving home but is just experimenting. Isn’t that terrifying? Your child is acting like a psychopath purely because he wants to see what will happen. Some people (read: toddlers) just want to watch the world burn.
Housebreaking: Okay, so I don’t have to walk around the neighborhood and gather my son’s shit into a bag. UNLESS, while we’re walking around the neighborhood, he happens to shit his pants. Then I have to gather those shitty pants into a bag. Plus, when he’s at home, I have to gather his shit into a canister. Even now that he’s started using the toilet, I have to shepherd (get it?) my son in there, the same way you chaperone a dog to a fire hydrant. And they both occasionally pisses on the floor.
Sleeping: if you’ve ever had a dog, or a toddler, you know how comforting and yet sometimes infuriating it can be when they climb into your bed in the middle of the night, making it impossible to move, pawing at you, badgering you to wake up long before dawn, even occasionally wetting the bed if you refuse to heed their whining entreaties for a potty break.
Obviously, there are some similarities. I think this scientific breakdown more than makes that obvious.
But that doesn’t change the fact that no matter how much I love my son and you love your dog, it’s not exactly appropriate to go around comparing humans to animals. That’s one of the (many) reasons this guy got in trouble. Yes, they are both stressful and difficult and fun and rewarding, but talking about your child as if he’s a pet is wildly disconcerting, and talking about your pet as if he’s your child is just fucking batshit.
Making the comparison is sort of understandable – I’ve loved some pets like brothers – but that doesn’t mean you should do it. You’re freaking me out.