It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Babies of various sorts


We’ve been talking a lot about poop in the MaryP house these days. Frequency, consistency, appearance.

We’ve been discussing sleep patterns, and brainstorming solutions to potentially problematic social developments. We’ve been ensuring adequate exercise and play time. We’ve been working out some discipline issues. We’ve been reading books on psychology and behavioural conditioning.

All this while I’m having my two weeks off. There is not a toddler in sight.

We have a puppy, and I tell you, it’s just like having a baby.


It is NOT.

I have had a baby. Three of ’em, in fact. There are a lot of parallels, and parents can learn a LOT about toddler-wrangling from the principles of puppy-training…

but it is NOT the same.

Any non-kid-owning dog-owners reading this? It does not matter how much your puppy whined in the night at first. It does not matter how delicate his digestion, nor how socially needy she is…

Human babies leave puppies MILES in the shade.

You have a puppy and you need to go out for a couple of hours? You put her in her crate with a chewy bone, and you leave.

Try doing that with a baby.

The puppy is whining in the night? You put her in her crate with a hot water bottle and a ticking clock, and you close the door.

Try doing that with a baby.

The puppy needs to play, but you don’t feel like going to the dog park? Toss the puppy in the back yard with a tennis ball.

Try doing that…

you get my point.

Still! If you are a dog-lover who has never had children? And if (this is important!) your dog is well-trained and well-behaved, you are getting some valuable pre-parent training.

We are NOT talking neurotic little mama’s-baby pooches, the type who need to be carried in bad weather, the fat little waddlers who won’t run in the park, the whiners and the nippers and the tearers-up of library books. But if your dog is cheerful, healthy, active and essentially well-behaved…

It’ll help. More than you might realize.

But please, don’t be calling the dog “my baby” in front of the parents of a human baby. Who might smile weakly to your face, but will mock you eternally behind your back. Who will be fighting the urge to beat you senseless with a sippy cup, and, on particularly bad days, switch the baby for the pup.

And me? I’m just love, love, loving our new puppy. Who I would never trade for a baby, thanks.

August 29, 2008 - Posted by | my kids, parents | , , ,


  1. “neurotic little mama’s-baby pooches, the type who need to be carried in bad weather, the fat little waddlers who won’t run in the park, the whiners and the nippers”
    I have 3 chihuahuas and you just summed them all up in that sentance, but I swear I didn’t make them like that, that is how they came…lol

    Sounds like the next few months’ work is all set out for you, then… Have fun!

    Comment by Alexandra | August 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. I had a friend once tell me “I know now that I won’t make a good Mom” after she recently adopted a pair (brother and sister) of puppies.

    She said, “I just get so angry when they whine for nothing and wake us up at all hours just for attention.”

    I responded, “Do you act on that anger? Like lash out verbally or physically?”

    She said, “No, of course not. But it’s just so damn frustrating, sometimes I have to walk away from them and just ignore them altogether.”

    I smiled and said, “Then you’ll make a great Mom.”

    No puppies aren’t just like babies and yeah, I do laugh at anyone who makes the comparison.

    Still, they are a great measure of one’s patience and unconditional love.

    Babies and puppies are pretty much the only creatures on Earth who can get away with pooping on someone’s floor and have the owner of said floor be more concerned (or amused) than disgusted.


    That aggravating myth, that “good parents” never feel angry, frustrated, or even exasperated. I’ll be glad when it finally dies its well-deserved death, because it is a blight on the parenting world. What makes a good parent is not whether you occasionally feel anger with/at your child, but, as you rightly point out, what you do with that anger. Something that never, ever seems to permeate the myth is that sometimes, anger is an appropriate response.

    Comment by Zayna | August 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. *CHEER*

    Very well said – I’ve tried to put this across to people (as someone who has been totally obsessive about pets – but still not-the-same-thing as the kid, honest) and failed. I’ll just point them here, now. 😉

    I should expect to see a surge of hits on this post, then?

    Comment by Sylvia | August 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. As you say, there are a lot of parallels, but it isn’t the same. Puppies go through the various growth stages a lot faster than babies, and they’ll never master language skills.

    But there are enough similarities that raising a puppy made me absolutely certain, about 12 years ago, that I never wanted another baby.

    Glad that things are going well with your new pup!

    I spent a few years there, yearning for another baby (number FOUR), but I got over it! A puppy is as close as I care to get these days. Love my day-time babies, glad to send them home at the end of the day!

    Comment by Florinda | August 29, 2008 | Reply

  5. You know, I love my animals, but I have to agree – it makes me bonkers when people refer to their pets as their babies. Even worse, furbabies. Blech! It is SO not the same, though as you say, certainly good training in meeting demands and curbing your own frustration.

    “Furbabies”? Eew.

    Comment by kittenpie | August 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. I do hate the spoilt canine princesses and fat weezers. But I hate their owners more, for making them like that.

    same goes for spoilt kids, too.

    Oooo. Feeling a little politically-incorrect feisty today, are we?? Heh. Your point is well-taken.

    Comment by Suzi | August 30, 2008 | Reply

  7. “Try doing that with a baby.”

    Please, readers of Mary P, do NOT try doing these things with a baby…


    Thanks, Chosha, for that conscientious reality check for the stupider of my readers…

    Comment by chosha | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  8. A friend of mine told me that she knew what it was like to be a parent because she has a CAT. It was all I could do not to laugh in her face. I mean, a cat is even less needy than a puppy! Give me a break. Also – please don’t reproduce.

    A CAT? Good lord.

    Someone lend that woman a baby for a weekend. Though, on second thoughts, who’d want to jeopardize their child by placing it in the hands of someone so oblivious?

    Comment by heels | September 2, 2008 | Reply

  9. Puppies are many times harder to train and have patience with than children. Yes they are cute- but they make bigger messes, and can’t help clean them up. Their poop and urine smells worse than any baby and child around, and when told to go read a book quietly in the room- they just bark louder!!

    Bwah-hahahah! Because we all know so many babies who can clean their own diapers, and 9-month-olds who can read. Too funny!

    Comment by nannyu | September 2, 2008 | Reply

  10. Fortunately none of my kids was over 100 lbs by the time they were 1 year old like my Great Pyrenees have been. Although my oldest son (11 lbs when born) tried.

    Comment by DogTraining | September 5, 2008 | Reply

  11. […] Your pet? Dog. (But you all know that. She’s […]

    Pingback by One-word meme « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | November 1, 2008 | Reply

  12. i just happened to gaze in this page and found this great , you must be having a great companion now oh lucky man great god keep him safe and give him good health

    Comment by roopaprabhakar | September 1, 2012 | Reply

  13. but rough patch is for a short time why great guy will you exchange a good dog for a child hahaah great joke

    Comment by roopaprabhakar | September 1, 2012 | Reply

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