I’ve always likened having dogs to having children. We do so many things for our dogs that we do or did for our kids. We feed them, educate them, entertain, love, discipline, and so on. We even refer to them as our kids, our fur-babies, or in my case as “the girls”. Our human children are all gown and have been out of the house for many years. There are many things I don’t know about their day to day lives. When they were very young I observed and knew every small detail of their lives. As they grew older I saw less and eventually knew less. Which is the way it should be. I know as I grew older into a young adult and beyond my parents knew less and less of the details of my life. I needed them less. They were glad I was independent. I feel the same way about my grown children.
My kids many years ago. Left to right Michael (now 34), Jessi (now 30), and Jonathan (now 37). Wow! In some ways I wish they could have stayed just like in this photo forever. But time marches on. They are independent with full and robust lives of their own.
But with our dogs it’s a little different. They never become independent in the way our children do. They rely on us their entire lives for their care and well being. While there are many similarities between a puppy and a human baby, the baby grows to be a toddler and beyond and they puppy grows to be like a toddler and mostly plateaus there. As dogs mature and age we continue to not only know, but also mostly control all the details of our their lives. When they eat we know it. When they walk we know it. When they find themselves into some sort of trouble or problem we not only know it but also correct it. Our dogs become moderately independent for short amounts of time but they can’t be (or shouldn’t be) left overnight by themselves. And as they grow older, like my 12 year old Kali, they need us more and more.
My “girls” a few hours ago. Left to right Koda (3.5 years, Kali (12 years), and Kloe (5 .5 years). Koda has finally matured into a toddler, Kali’s hips and eyes are deteriorating, and Kloe’s muzzle is graying. Like their human siblings they also have a full and robust life but rely on Holly and I to make sure of that. They are very dependent and we are ok with that.
So having dogs is like having kids but way different.
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Further to my Comments which were posted prematurely (how did that happen???).
We can learn so much by using the child/dog comparison, and such a comparison is very valid given the similarities between a dog and a 3-4 year old child. Regards. Colin.
Hi Colin. Thanks for your comments and sharing the comparisons. As has been the case for several years now we are on the same page as it relates to training and development for our pups. It’s been years since I’ve had a 3 year old but my granddaughter is one so I presume my dogs will continue to be great teachers for me as she approaches the toddler stage. Take care and hugs to Ray.
You make me feel old! My granddaughter is 26! 🙂
Hi Michael – The analogy goes even further. As you are aware, there are many different training methods and training aids. One of our Humane Society trainers (who helped us with Ray) was an ardent promoter of Positive Reinforcement Training and she made some comments which are etched into my mind!
1. “Do you want a dog to do what you would ask him to do because he wants to please you …. or because he is afraid to do otherwise?” ( Answer was a no-brainer!)
2. (When considering a training method and/or a training aid) “Would you do it to a 3 year old child? If the answer is no, then perhaps you should not be doing it to a dog.”
3. (In the context of training by domination and/or physical force) ” You can teach a child to be cooperative by threatening it with a 2 x 4! The child will have the option to leave home when in its teens, but a dog does not have that option and may well turn aggressive as its only perceived response.
They’re all still as precious and cute as the first day I saw them, especially Kali. The ‘babies’ have matured into lovely companions. Give ’em all ear/belly rubs from me!
Thanks M! Will do….