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I’m Not My Dog’s Mom

I’m not my dog’s “mom.”

As we wrapped up Father’s Day last weekend, my husband Matt turned to me and said, “No one wished me happy Father’s Day. And I’ve been a parent to a cat and a dog for five years!”

The thing is, my husband and I don’t consider ourselves “Mom” and “Dad” to Baxter and Ralph. Shortly after we adopted Baxter, I remember a conversation where I said to Matt, “Don’t call me Baxter’s Mom.”

We’re good buds. Ralph is our best girl. Bax is our dude. He and Matt are bros. But they’re not father and son (although Ralph and I are occasionally sisters-in-arms to balance out the testosterone).

I hear a lot of “pet parents”—there’s another label—called Mom and Dad. And that makes complete sense. Our pets are absolutely part of our family. We love them and care for them. Mom and Dad just wasn’t how we chose to identify ourselves. For our dog, we’re called Julia and Matt. As in, “Where’s Matt? Go find Julia!”

I'm not my dog's mom

I don’t feel like eschewing the label of Mom and Dad signifies that we love Baxter any less. I often feel uncomfortable calling myself a dog “owner.” Baxter’s my family. I don’t own family members. And I certainly anthropomorphise my dog. Just not to the point that I consider him my offspring.

Interestingly, we have no problem calling our parents Grandma and Grandpa in relation to Baxter. And they identify themselves that way too. My Mom had a whole conversation last week with Baxter about how he was her favourite grand-dog. (He’s her only grand-dog for now, but I chose not to mention that).

What do you call yourself for your dog? Are you your dog’s Mom or Dad?

We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Baxter and Matt:

 

Lori Hilliard

Monday 6th of November 2017

We have a dog and a cat. The dog is my "baby," and I refer to myself as his dog mom. The cat, however,I simply refer to by a variety of nicknames, none having to do with me being a cat mom. Let's be honest - dogs need a parent more than cats do. Not sure if this is why I differentiate, but it's as good a reason as any. My cat can take care of herself whether I'm gone for a day or a week. The dog? Not so much.

Annie

Friday 18th of August 2017

My dogs are my dogs. My buddies, my friends, my partners in crime, my companions. I compete in dog sports with my dogs and we have a special bond through working with each other. I can't stand when people call me a dog mom because I don't have that kind of relationship with any of my pets. I love them and spoil them for sure, but my role is not to bring them up to be functioning, decent human beings (like a mom would for her children) my role is to train them to be tame animals functioning in a human society.

I don't care if other people call themselves dog mom or dog daddy to be silly, but it's not for me. I am a bit uncomfortable when people literally treat their dogs like babies though. I feel it shows a lack of respect to what a dog is. They are much more capable, independent, and intelligent than babies...

Jen Gabbard

Thursday 13th of July 2017

As you say it just depends on what you choose to call yourself, and what you're comfortable with. I don't use the term dog mom myself, but it doesn't phase me when someone else does. The weird thing for me is that the term owner doesn't bother me, though intellectually I know it should. I think I'm just so used to it I don't even notice.

Sarah

Wednesday 5th of July 2017

My other half took a while to come around to the idea that some habits are by their very nature, just what dogs do. Like digging holes in the lawn. She loves to dig and why wouldn't you try to find that chirping cricket? So I've tried to steer that off the lawn and into what was a veggie bed, which for the most part has worked, but I do wish the crickets would move out of the lawn. My mum was the first one to tag me as my dog's mum, by referring to herself as my first dog's grandma, so I've been mum to my pets since I was a teenager and that seems normal to me. I've never received a mother's day card from them though, but I did get a Christmas card one year from the cat.

Kellie O'Brien

Wednesday 28th of June 2017

I do not call myself my dogs' mom because I am not. Although they are an important part of my family and I love them so very much, I celebrate the species that they are. I am human & they are animals.

Unfortunately,, in my pet business I see a multitude of behavioral issues in today's dogs because they are thought of and treated as "my babies!!!". These owners believe that treating their dogs like children is ok. Yet they whisper ( so their baby won't hear) that little Bella is a rescue who is very protective of them (even though she weighs 10 lbs), is a picky eater with skin issues and is obese. Meanwhile little Bella is running wild in my store on her flexi-lead and leaving drops of urine down the isle.

No, I'm not a pet parent. I'm a pet owner. My dogs are fed well, exercised well, trained well and are part of my family. They are animals. i respect them as such.

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Wednesday 28th of June 2017

Thanks for bringing this perspective. Respect is a great way to think about it. Understanding our dogs as dogs helps to ensure we're giving them what they need.

KL

Wednesday 28th of June 2017

I think you bring up a great point when you talk about respect. Part of caring for animals is respecting them for what they are. It's most fair to expect a dog to act and react like a dog, rather than to think and act like a human child. The latter is setting them up to fail.