Okay, here's something that has been bothering both my houndie and me. I have no children of my own. Not by choice, but because mother nature has provided me with malfunctioning ovaries and I seem to be unable to reproduce. Miracles could still happen but the ole biological clock is tick-tick-tocking faster every year on this side of fourty so for now I console myself being a happy dogsmother. In a way, having a pack of dogs has had the same impact on my life on an emotional, financial and social level as would be the case having a horde of kids. Either way, I cannot do as I please since I have 5 lives depending on me (not mentioning our 4 feline kids), there's the medical expenses and all the joy and grief that goes with sharing your life with loved ones, since it hurts either way when they die, be it the two-legged or four-legged kind.
Surprisingly, kids and dogs have more in common that one might think. All around me I often see people happily procreating, getting one kid after another, but the kids are then all too often confined to their rooms, their toys have to be stashed away in a playing room and once they're old enough they spend most of their spare time in the streets, hanging out totally unsupervised, being taught nothing but streetwise bluff. Upon entering some of their so called homes, it is sometimes hard to see any of their presence there. Maybe a drawing on the fridge, or their coats at the hanger. But downstairs, everything looks like something straigth out of an interior design guide. No toys, no handicrafted items, just everything need and tidy. The only bit of the house that has some playfullness is the child's own bedroom, which often in these cases is either way depressingly sparsely fitted or depressingly overcrowded and messy, filled with cheap pacifying toys. With these kind of folks, it is often the same story when they have dogs. They keep their pets confined in a kennel all day, or outside in a doghouse. No feeding bowls in the kitchen, sometimes not even a dog bed... They want the child, they want the dog, because it is part of the picture perfect of the suburban house with the picket fence and the neatly clipped lawn, but dog forbid their presence is shown.
Their kids and dogs are supposed to adapt, adapt, adapt, just sit there and be still and nice and don't bother the parents. To achieve this goal, the parents can resort to a range of craftily designed tools, made to ensure the child is totally silent but with a side effect of lasting damage to thinking abilities and creative thinking, a side effect often overlooked by the parents and only discovered after the damage has been done. With their dogs it is more a matter of closing the door or getting the dog tied up somewhere in a back room.
How totally different it is, fortunately, with most of my friends. A big cupboard in the living room holding their children's toys, proudly displaced handicrafted flowerpots and play-doh constructions made for mothers' day, an assortment of little boots, coats and bags on the stairs and on the pegs in the hall, loads of little scribbled attempts to portray mum and dad pasted on the fridge, and also dog beds, feeding bowls, and an assortment of tug-a-war ropes, balls and rubber animals that go squeek when bitten by happy dog mouths (or stepped on by hapless visitors). Kids tumbling around their back yard or engaging in fairy-tale roleplaying, building things of lego blocks or reading stories to each other. Dogs knowing their place in the pack order, but also happily engaging in play with the kids or the guests if they want to. Parents who don't throw a fit upon discovering muddy foot- or pawprints on the floor, but shrug and say hey, that's why someone invented the mop and bucket. The children in those families grow up being happy and loved, and so do the dogs. Every dog, every child deserves a life like that!