Dog Parents

My wife and I are dog parents. We have 18 different names for our dog ranging from cute to ferocious. My wife lays heavy on the cute nicknames — generally they end with an “oo” sound; Pup-a-doo, Roguey-poo, Pup-a-choo. I favor the more obsucre — Aminal (pronounced Am-ih-noll), Monster, Cat-dog, Helicopter Tail. The fact that we have so many names for our dog means that my wife and I are dog parents.

happy pup
Don’t mind the toes, but this is Pup at his finest.

We weren’t always like this though. Don’t tell her, but there was a time, long, long two years ago, that we were not dog parents; we weren’t parents at all! All we had was each other and, well, we thought that was all right. We thought that being able to come and go as we pleased, turning our noses up at couples with children for their commitment to their kids and having the freedom to take a weekend vacation without having to worry about finding the right person to babysit our hairy dog-child was an acceptable way to live.

The best thing about being a dog parent is giving your dog a voice. Now this could mean one of two things. My wife and I have some close friends who literally give their dog a voice. When we go over to visit them and our dogs (who are best friends) play, both begin to project their dog’s voice as some thing of a (and I mean absolutely no disrespect in this description) Disney-themed Goofy-meets-Shaggy from Scooby Doo type of voice. “It’s great to see my ‘beeessttttt frrriieeennnddd!'” It’s so funny because once you start associating this voice with the dog, it kind of becomes a part of their personality and who they are. The dog didn’t ask for it, but it became his voice.

The second type of voice (which applies to Rogue) can be just their personality. I’m fairly certain just about all dog parents do this, but you assign thoughts, moods, interpretations of certain looks and groans all to mean different things. As this manifests, you begin asking each other if you asked his opinion on something or if he agreed to whatever decision you two have come to.

“Will you text Rogue and tell him we’re on the way home?”

“I tried but I think he’s ignoring us. I can see that he read that text 5 minutes ago but just hasn’t responded.”

“Well maybe he’s talking to Tucker and will text us back. You don’t think he’s mad at us do you?”

…and so on and so on.

Sorry I can't come to the phone right now...super busy.
Sorry I can’t come to the phone right now…super busy.

Now, to be honest, our dog kind of has a voice, although neither Kelly or I really think it’s his actual voice. But he has this look where he points his nose down and kind of looks up at you and we decided that he is –sometimes–afraid of just about anything and everything. So sometimes when he’s sitting with us and something happens, he’ll look at us and say in the most wimpy, shaky, having-a-hard-time-getting-it-out-because-I’m-trembling kind of way, “I’m scccaaarrr-r-r-r-ddd.” It’s stupid, but it’s the only voice that makes sense for how pathetic he seems at certain times.

B-b-but it’s t-t-too cold outside…

My other favorite part about being a dog parent is stubbornly denying any difference between having real children and raising a dog. Now real parents, I will grant you that people children are more expensive, need more care, and by law you cannot leave them at home to guard the house while you’re at work. But aside from that, it’s basically the same thing. I teach my dog things like “watch me,” shake, don’t smell that poop in the grass, and the importance of good exercise — all good qualities of people children as well. He listens, doesn’t trust strangers, makes it hard to travel, and gets more attention from his mother than I do — just like people children.

The funny thing is when you listen to people talk about their kids, and you begin nodding along like your situation is the same.

Rando guy at office: “Yea, my kid woke up up at 3 a.m. crying. Think I’m getting used to this no sleep thing.”

Me: “Yea tell me about it. Rogue used come in 10 minutes before our alarm went off and start throwing his body into the bed to get us up.  It’s not fun, but don’t worry, it gets better.”

The thing I like most about having a dog isn’t that he’s always excited to see you when you get home or laughing about all of the human qualities we think he has. It’s not seeing him play with his best friend or scrolling through your phone to realize he is the only thing you think to take pictures of anymore. The thing I like most about having a dog is that it has given my wife and I something we can share our love with, which in turns deepens our relationship.

Sound like something someone with kids would say?

But the fact of the matter is that it’s true. Sure, we travel less and notice a few hundred dollars worth of vet bills and Pet People receipts, but the feeling I get seeing my wife snuggle him on the couch or when the three of us are ready to go to bed but decide to play the “give me that toy!” game for a few minutes brings me more joy than any vacation could.

So we’re dog parents. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh, and here’s a running list of names we use on him:

Rogue, Pup, Monster, Manimal (sometimes young-Manimal), Animal, Aminal, Pup-a-doo, Roguey-poo, Pup-a-choo, Cat-dog, Helicopter Tail, Richard Parker (for his ferocious resemblance to the tiger in Life of Pi), Prince, Prettymuchthebestthingintheworld, Myfavoritethingintheworld, Power-tail, Asshole, Black-dog — and I’m sure a whole other list of names I use but can’t remember.