Honey is not my baby. And I am not her “mommy.” Honestly.
Recently someone noticed how Honey liked to carry a red Kong in her mouth. I replied, “Yes, her mother does too.” They stared at me blankly for several long seconds before I realized what was going on and said, “Y’know, her birth mom. The dog.” The light went on. The person in front of me stopped picturing me with a rubber dog toy in my mouth.
I am her nurturer. Honey depends on me for her most basic needs. If I’m not a “mommy,” what am I?
In writing, I usually call myself her guardian or caretaker. I’ve never felt comfortable with the word “owner.” I remember Alice Walker writing in Dog is my Co-Pilot: Great Writers on the World’s Oldest Friendship about how she, as the descendent of enslaved Africans, just couldn’t be an “owner” of a sentient being. Yeah, I get that.
But Honey is not my child. And I’m careful to not compare her to children when I speak to parents. (My husband, on the other hand, has been known to advise parents how to raise their children based on dog training techniques. He’s lucky no one pushed him in front of a bus.)
Sure, dogs and children both need consistency, a sense of what’s expected of them, love, and guidance. But dogs aren’t children. And when we treat them as if they are, we’re missing out on their innate, adult dog-ness.
We can’t understand a new way of communicating that involves barks and eyebrows and tails. We’re missing out on the amazing things dogs can teach us. And we’re not recognizing that they are a species outside ourselves that we’re blessed to have in our midst. A relationship that goes back thousands of years and that came about by choice–by both humans and canids.
Some people know exactly what they are to their dogs. They feel perfectly comfortable being a “mommy” or “daddy” to their dog or cat or bird.
Others share my ambivalence. I read some of their blogs. They devise humorous names for themselves that express both a deep affection for their dogs and a recognition of the complexity of our relationships. Just a few favorites that come to mind:
- Over at The Thundering Herd, you’ll read about the adventures of a family of huskies and their Hu-Dad.
- Visit Wootube for wonderful photographs of a menagerie of mixed and purebred herding dogs and the Food Lady.
- The very humorous Georgia Little Pea Ratatouille over at Little Dogs on Long Leashes refers to her Out-at-Work Human as My Cushion.
- Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me discovered her dog Frankie’s name for her: SWMOM or She Who Must Obey Me.
How do I refer to myself with Honey? My husband and I are “the dad” and “the mom.” The addition of that “the” is very important. No mother of children ever callers herself “the mom.” Unless it’s in “Because I’m the mom and I said so.”
“The Mom” and “The Dad” is affectionate. It’s mildly humorous. And it’s the most satisfying names we could come up with.
We can’t change it now. Honey has just learned the cue, “Go find the Dad.” She can now do it over 50 yards distance and even when my husband is not visible to her at the start. I guess we’re stuck with it.
How do you refer to yourself in relationship to your dog? Are you ever embarrassed by it when you talk to others? Or are you a mommy or daddy and proud of it? Do your parents refer to their “grand-dog?” Please share.
New Tech Talk Discussion Board for Pet Bloggers
[Update: The Dog Tech Forum is not active. But the BlogPaws community has a great group for people with tech questions about blogging. If you haven’t joined yet, you should.
While you’re there, don’t forget to become my “friend.” ]
I’ve started a discussion board where we “non-techie” bloggers can share suggestions and ask for help. It’s easy to sign up. The more you share the more useful it will be.
So join us over at Dog Blog Tech. Click on General Boards to find the Welcomes & Introductions Threads. There you’ll find tips on how to use the boards, find out how to get updates in your inbox, and can introduce yourself to others.
Look forward to seeing you there.
This is a blog hop. Hop on.