I often hear friends mulling over the pros and cons of getting a dog and how it could be good “practice” for parenthood.
One friend decided to get two dachshunds from the same litter in case the couple one day happened to have twins.
“We needed to know the reality of having children,” said Georgia, as we walked Benny and Beatrice in the park one day.
“Oh, it’s just been so hard, so many sacrifices.
“I had to cancel after work drinks the other night as Benny and Beatrice just needed me.
“And on Wednesday night, we had a tough night, I must have lost 20 minutes sleep settling Beatrice.”
Have you thought about adoption? I ask.
Georgia’s guilty look says enough.
My partner and I had been together for six years before we decided to get a dog.
I can’t recall our main reason for welcoming our cinnamon shar-pei, Cappuccino, into our lives in 2008.
I don’t think it was to “practice” for parenthood, or perhaps I’m too embarrassed to admit it.
I think we simply liked four-legged creatures and wanted to own something “real” together, beside our lemon tree.
Buying a shar-pei was not a decision we took lightly. We spent months investigating the breed we wanted and what type would be suited to our postage-stamp backyard.
We were warned on an episode of Burke’s Backyard that the shar-pei is a very stubborn breed and if not properly trained can be very difficult to manage.
Our parenting skills would certainly be put to the test on this occasion.
Fortunately, it has worked out well. Cappuccino has not bitten anyone, nor gone to the toilet indoors.
But the longer I am a parent of human beings the more absurd I find the idea that owning a dog could prepare one for motherhood.
However, I am in the minority.
A survey from Woolworths Insurance arrived in my inbox this week.
It showed more than half (53 per cent) of Australians see a pet as a good practice run for looking after kids.
I beg to differ.
Try leaving your child at home while you go off to work; or locking it in the sunroom when it’s howling at midnight; or serving it kibble twice a day.
No, no, no. The survey can’t be right.
I found that Cappuccino did not prepare me one iota for having children.
But I have learned at least one thing on this journey. Having kids is excellent preparation for owning a dog.
I can now go puppy shopping with confidence.
How ready are you?
Key findings from the Woolworths Insurance survey show:
– 53 per cent see a pet as a good practice run for looking after kids.
– 39 per cent think pet ownership is a great way to test a couples compatibility.
– 61 per cent agree if couples can’t care for a pet, they probably aren’t ready to be parents.
– 66 per cent of those surveyed agree that kids and pets both make a mess.
– 81 per cent think pets and children are highly dependent.
– 31 per cent said they both keep you up at night.
– 56 per cent of dog and cat owners agree both kids and pets give unconditional love.
– 65 per cent already consider their pet to be one of their children and treat it accordingly.