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We all have that friend or, god forbid, couple in our lives that treats their pet like a furry, slobbering dog or cat child. At every major social gathering, their pet comes with them. They’ve trained it to sit at the table, politely bark or meow for someone to pass the mashed potatoes and gravy, and even know how to use a knife and fork. They think they’re people, and who could blame them when their “parents,” as they like to refer to themselves, are making them a surrogate for actual children. From all of us to those of you who do this…
Stop it. Stop it right now.
Just because they both can’t communicate well in English, drool on anything they touch and tend to poop on the floor, it does not necessarily mean they can be used interchangeably as a human baby. We all get it. You love your dog or cat very much, but it’s time someone spoke up in their defense. Don’t put a festive holiday sweater on them. They have fur and definitely don’t need it. Plus, what would their friends think? I don’t know what kind of dog-to-dog communication happens at the local dog park, beyond the usual butt-sniff, but if you are dressing your dog up, assume all the other dogs are laughing at it. How does that make you feel? It’s like being the parents that send their son to pre-K with a pink Barbie lunchbox “accidentally.” You just don’t recover from that kind of humiliation. Trust me, I know.
Beyond embarrassing the animal you love as if it actually shared your genes, it weirds the rest of us out. My introduction to your pet should be patting it on the head, maybe tossing it a toy and moving on with my life. The moment I have to formally introduce myself and have a 10 minute conversation about its day at pet daycare is the moment you have taken things a bridge too far. Don’t go full on animal nut around me, because I will be forced to assume your pet gave you rabies or something and you’ve simply lost your mind.
If you want a kid, have or adopt a kid. The world has plenty of them. I’m told the third world is practically giving them away right now to good homes. That way, you satisfy all the maternal and paternal needs your hormones and instincts are forcing you to project on your poor, furry friends. In your twenties and can’t afford one right now? That’s fine, just keep it in mind for the future. Please though, the sane portion of the world is begging you: no more doggie sweater photos, animal Facebook accounts, personal pet Instagrams or Tumblr blogs from the point of view of your pet. My social media feeds can’t take much more of it. You are acting crazier than that new mom that only posts pictures of her baby. I don’t need a constant reminder that the only thing I currently nurture or care for of is a hangover or a bottle of whiskey.
Your animals are important to you. I totally understand. My family has a toy poodle and she’s adorable, but we still treat her like a dog (usually). She does occasionally get cheese and my sisters have a bad habit of putting her in reindeer antlers or bunny ears around the holidays, but we aren’t treating her like a person because she isn’t one. I mean, she can’t even use the toilet.
So please, stop projecting your biological needs for offspring on your pets. They’ll thank you for it, we’ll thank you for it, and the internet will be saved from the inevitable selfie, baby picture and pet photo server collapse. If not, the next time you bring your “family” over to visit, I’ll assume you are actually somehow related to your pet and hand you a doggie dish and water bowl to use at the dinner table.