Dog person through and through

I’ve always been a dog person, unabashed, and proud of it. From the time my first Lhasa bit me at eight years old, then snuggled into my arm before pooping in my shoe, it was all over. I’m helpless.

Cats were a creature I had to work at liking. We never had one growing up; in fact, until veterinary school, I never lived with one. Now that I have Apollo and have come to appreciate their unique characteristics, I can’t imagine my life without one. I wouldn’t quite say I’m a cat lady, but I do like them quite a bit.

Kids, on the other hand, have always been an enigma to me. As a teenager, I babysat for lack of better alternatives for employment, my mother (correctly) assuming that there is no better deterrent to teenage motherhood than actually having to be around young children for extended periods of time. As I got older and my friends started having children, I was the one who sat frozen at showers, holding a newborn at arms’ length with my face frozen in a rictus, wondering what I was supposed to do with it and how long I had to hold it before I could give it back.

Then I went ahead and had children. Oh, how much I’ve learned. With time and deeper understanding over eight years of being immersed in children, I can now say with confidence this: I still don’t get kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. They are amazing and I am glad every day that I have them. That being said, I’m not particularly good with them. I do what I can, and I think I’m doing OK until I look across the room at Mrs. Sunny McMommerton with her 5 layer organic bento and her cheery application of 5 various scented versions of hand sanitizer and I realize, wow, I’m flat out mediocre at this parenting thing. I’m no closer to understanding the inner workings of a Kid Person any more than, say, Mustang Guys, or Parrot People. I am standing in the circle and looking around and still not sure what it is I’m looking at.

I volunteered quite extensively in my daughter’s classroom in kindergarten, out of a sense of obligation more than the deep sense of satisfaction obtained from explaining to five year olds why paste ingestion is not a good idea. I took on the much-ballyhooed role of “Room Mom” in my son’s classroom last year, which was even worse because then I had to navigate not only the political manueverings of the PTA Halloween carnival booth assignments, but I had to keep track of who was gluten intolerant versus peanut intolerant versus matchstick intolerant for holiday parties.

Oh, yes, the Matchbox Incident, as we call it in this house. That was the last straw. This year, we’re in a very different and much improved school, but I’m not in the classroom much at all. While I regret not having more time to be immersed in the educational system, I can’t say I miss it, because then I would be a liar and I feel the need to be deeply honest with you all.

I had to go to Babies R Us yesterday to pick up a gift. While many friends of mine wax nostalgic at the big purple sign, sighing at the “Expectant Mommy” parking and wondering about just one more, I walk through the front door, see the rows of strollers and watermelon-bellied women wrestling carseats into minivans, and all I feel in my stomach is the gnawing lump of anxiety at the thought of going through that all over again. Sure, I smile at other people’s babies and I even know the right way to hold them now, but I look at them with the mildly interested civility one would normally show in mixed company. I’m not anti-child, I just don’t rush over to be first in line to tickle one or anything.

After that trip, I went to the hair salon. As we were finishing up, one of the stylists came in with a new puppy. I sensed it before I saw it, the certainty that something adorable and sweet has just entered the building. I stood up, knocking three people out of the way in the process, and levitated like one of those Twilight vampire things straight to the little furry moppet with a huge giant “SQUEEEEEEEE OMG I’M A VET LET ME HOLD HER AIEEEEE!”

A picture of me doing this with a random baby human does not exist.

As I unthinkingly commandeered the puppy for snorgles, my brain obligated by sheer instinct to place hands on fur, it hit me- Oh, so this is what it’s like for those baby feet squeezers. It all seems so clear when you see it from the outside. I guess you either have it or you don’t.

So I’m not going to worry about whatever little chips I may or may not be missing; for whatever reason my maternal chip was implanted with a dog face on it, and that’s OK.

So yes, that is it in a nutshell. I am a dog person. How about you?

Filed: Blog, Picks of the Litter Tagged: , ,
  • Sue W.

    I totally get you. I’m the same way. I, too, volunteered in my son’s class. I was a superior helper. I dreaded it. I also volunteered at the local shelter. I loved it. I’m OK with it, too.

    • Glad I’m not the only one out there faking their way through afternoon art. πŸ˜€

  • kgseymour

    Quit sharing my brain! πŸ™‚

  • Sherry in MT


    • Thanks Sherry! So glad I’m not being ostracized by the kid-wielding contingent. πŸ˜€

  • Amy Sunnergren

    Thank you! I always felt that there was something wrong with me because I never felt that same attraction towards children. In fact my brother has told me that there is something wrong with me because I didn’t insist on holding all of his seven children. Now dogs, yes. Of course with dogs there is play and interaction, while babies just lie there (and eat and poop.) Cats I have always felt were introspective creatures who just want to know if you are around, but they don’t need that reaffirmation that dogs need, and dogs also give.

    • Maybe he hogged all the kid-loving genes to himself. πŸ˜€

      • Amy Sunnergren

        Probably, since he’s older. He can have them.

  • Tabitha W

    I feel the SAME WAY and i work in Child Welfare. However, my heart beats for cats and any type of rodent.

    • The heart is drawn to what it is drawn to, right? And there’s not a thing wrong with it.

  • Susan Montgomery

    So glad I’m not the only one like this! Love my son and step-daughters, but really don’t want to hold every random baby passed around at work or parties. For me it’s horses. Any horse, any where, I have to stop and look, pet if I can get to it, talk to it, watch it, give it scritches, and so on. I have 6 horses at home, but I still have to watch every parade where there is horses, every horse show on tv, movies with horses, etc. I can watch a movie and tell you which actors really can ride (Viggo Mortenson) and who can’t (Antinio Bandaras). Oh, and Guinea Pigs, love the little squeakers..have to ruffle their fur and hold them and squeeze them and name them George.

    • It’s so interesting to me how people gravitate to certain creatures. And I had heard Viggo was a gangbusters rider- good to know it’s not just PR lackeys. πŸ˜€

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one with “puppy-senses” (similar to spidey-senses, only much better!)

    • It is a sixth sense. πŸ™‚

  • Kim

    YES. Yesyesyes. I’m getting to the age where my friends will be starting families soon and at the risk of sounding dramatic, this post really made me feel less like a total “chip-missing” weirdo. Thanks, Dr. V!

    Years ago, upon meeting my cousin’s famously slow-to-cry, happy-go-lucky infant for the first time, my mom handed him over to me with a gleefully sadistic smile, “Just to see if he knows *how* to cry.” He did.

    I always joke that kids smell my fear, which is born of inexperience and (quite frankly) indifference. I haven’t ruled having kids out, but for now I’ll happily test a kid’s crying abilities. (And continue to make a beeline past the kids for the family pets at any house I visit.)

    • And should you decide to go down that route and find out you’re still uneasy around them, not to worry- you’re in good company. I’m buying drinks. πŸ™‚

      • Kim

        Cheers! No — seriously. Thanks for being honest. You’ve clearly spoken to a lot of people here.

        While they certainly don’t have the same side effects, I suspect the Animal Chip and the Kid Chip are related. Anyone whose heart opens wide around a needy creature other than themselves can’t be all bad. πŸ™‚

  • Grace

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on any blog post, but I feel the need to comment here – THANK YOU for so eloquently describing how I feel. Babies are great and all, but I never get the urge to run over to a stranger and squeal over their baby. But if I come across a puppy everything inside me melts and I just want to hug and kiss and squish.

    • Thank you for taking the time out to say hi, Grace! I appreciate it.

  • Pauley James

    Your internal mommy chip was implanted with a dog face on it; love it!! I had never thought about it quite that way, but am right there with you (& cats too).

    • πŸ™‚ I could have been a cat person too- could have gone either way, I think.

  • Michelle K.

    I love this post! Like you, I’m a dog person, and had to work at learning to like cats (which I also really like, but they’ll never be the same as dogs).

    On the kid front, I love my kids immensely, and what’s more, I get them. I really do. I’m a great class helper and the kids love me because I’m fun and getting down to their level is instinctive for me. That said, the big BUT comes from a deep-seated impatience. I’ve always been a little selfish and a little too focused, and kids mess up my dynamic. They just INTERRUPT everything. So parenthood is a bit of a struggle for me, and I must seem bipolar to my kids, one minute being the monster chasing them around the house, and the next minute I’m just DONE and then I’m off to check my e-mail. The problem is, they’re not done when I am. Don’t they GET it?!

    Dogs though, there’s always time for their demands, because their demands seem so in sync with my own needs. I think dogs are right in the middle, a perfect mix of neediness and self-sufficiency without being burdensome. And they have mad social skills. Definitely a dog person here. πŸ™‚

    • Wow, you described so much of the struggles I have as well. VERY well put.

  • Michelle S

    I’ll take puppies over babies ANY day!
    P.S. Babies R Us DELIVERS! πŸ™‚

    • A ha! Good to know for next time. LOLOL

  • My mommy chip was implanted with kitten programming. I haven’t mustered the courage to have children, so I can’t speak to that, but I’ve often felt something is wrong with me because I have this stong emotional reaction to cats and kittens, that others probably have when they see human babies,

    • ringtailroxy

      Same affliction here.
      Years ago, I did raccoon rehab…. hence the logo & screenname. Still love the masked wonders… but kittens are so much more rewarding.

    • And I get that feeling that oh man, something is off with me, but the older I get the more I realize that NOT A THING is wrong with you for feeling that way.

  • ringtailroxy

    I do the same thing-I’m a CVT-but it’s for kittens, the smaller and more helpless the tiny future predators be, the more I can’t control myself.

    • I have a pretty high squee factor for kittens too.

  • Mama doggie

    You are totally right. Still laughing….I could tell you some stories !!! Like you. I eat drink sleep with dogs and their doggie daddy!!!!!i love

  • Kaberle

    Wow finally a vet that is human as well! I totally understand this. I have been a RVT for over 30 years and I know I was born to help animals and be a part of their tribes. I am both a cat and dog person and I don’t care where I am, I will always talk to the dog or cat before I would ever hold a baby!! I have two (grown) kids and they both grew up at the clinic where I worked. My son played in cages and both kids got look-overs on the exam table. I love my kids, but have never been comfortable with any one elses. I even had a hard time warming up to my grandson but I am past that now. I didn’t even have my first one until I was 25.

    There is nothing wrong with us, but in a world that is full of women that still think having 7 kids is okay (it’s not considering what’s happening to our Mother Earth!) I think that we are just perfect. I’m glad that some women have the wondrous Mommy Chip in them but I am just as glad that I wasn’t one of them. Yaaa for Animal Chip People!!!

  • Yes, all this. Totally. I’ve always been a dog person, had from birth to 18. And snorgle as many as will let me. With apartment living, I’ve also become a bunny person but, you know, not a “bunny person”, if you catch my drift. But she owns me, what can I say?

  • I saw this post shared on Andy Roark’s page and just had to check it out… so happy I did! Definitely a few chuckles engendered from this little gem. It is funny how we vets have that cute animal radar, isn’t it. That said, I’m lucky to have also gotten the “dad chip” – and how! Even before having our two girls, I was always comfortable with and wanting kiddos – it’s at a whole new level now that we’ve got them.

    The thing that I never “got” before we had kids was the whole “bringing toddlers and young kids to your pet’s vet appointment and letting them run around” thing. Now though… I get it! And I have SO much more respect and understanding for those parents that do it. (*I’m not going to lie and say I love it, but I definitely do understand it more now πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, great post!

    • I have come to have so much more understanding for those exhausted moms, having been one myself stuck without help watching the kids. Being the primary caretaker to a busy house is HARD! I try very hard to make it easier on them.

      • I can totally relate now too! Not to being a mom, of course – but I definitely have had my fair share of trips with both girls to do something that I know would have gone easier if they were in school or at home. That said, it’s also very cool for kids to have those experiences (something I truly appreciate and embrace now).

  • Cleopawtra

    I’m really a cat person, but love dogs too. I also don’t get the kid thing, I’ve was unable to have children and do wish I could have had at least one child. Oh well, our kitties are our furkids. My older sister has 2 kids and they have 7 children between them, so when I get the urge to play the grandma role I do something with them, and then send them home to there house and I go home to my kitties. I guess I have the best of both worlds.

  • Tonya Whetsel

    You are my kindred spirit! Seriously, you could write my autobiography! πŸ™‚ I am a dog person through and through. And yes, I have one child. I love him, but one is enough. I would never make that comment about having a dog!

  • Lisa W

    I’m such a dog person that I never had human kids – didn’t want them for most of my life, went through a period in my mid-to-late thirties when I did, then didn’t any more. It’s all about the pups for me!

  • Isa D

    Cats all the way! I was glad to read you today. I feel so out of place sometimes. It’s baby time around me with all my friends being pregnant or with a new born and while I’m looking forward to getting my own kids, I’m not the one who’d volunteer to hold a baby. On the other side, I’ll always be the first one to cuddle a new kitten and I’ll happily catsit. Thanks for being honest. Makes me feel less guilty. πŸ™‚

  • Abby’s mom

    I’m so glad it’s not just me. I’ve never been a big kid person. My sister in law had a baby recently. I thought maybe I’d have one of those “oh my goodness I want one” moments when I held her, like when I hold someone’s new puppy. I love my niece and she is very cute, but it just wasn’t there.