My husband, Travis, and I are proud fur parents to three pups: a spirited black Pomeranian named Winnie, a sweet and sleepy Yorkie named Moxie, and a playful black and white Shih Tzu named Linlee.
Travis and I met and fell in love when we were both living in Oklahoma. While we were dating, he took a job that relocated him to Texas. And after we married, I moved to the Lone Star state to be with him.
I loved the organization I worked for in Oklahoma and was happy to be able to work remotely after moving to Texas. However, my initial excitement wore off when I realized I had underestimated my needs as an extrovert. Within a few months, I found myself missing having an office mate.
So, I decided to get one … who could sit on my lap. What better than a Pomeranian puppy to keep me company in my home office during the day!?
As a puppy, she looked like a little black bear – which led to us naming her Winnie. As in “the Pooh” who – Fun Fact: was named after a Canadian black bear that lived at the London Zoo.
Well, little Winnie was a great companion for me. But she wanted more attention than I found I had time to give during work hours. I invented a plethora of homemade doggie games and puzzles to keep her entertained, but it just wasn’t quite enough for this little ball of energy.
So, Travis and I decided to get Winnie a pet of her own to play with.
We happened upon our Yorkie, Moxie, during a PetSmart Dog Adoption event and were smitten immediately! She is The. Sweetest. Thing!
However, my plan for keeping Winnie busy with her pet Moxie failed miserably. Moxie has no interest in being bothered by Winnie. Moxie does not play. Moxie naps. All day.
Fast forward a couple of years to my innocent trip to the flea market to find a wooden candleholder. I did come home with the candleholder I was searching for. I also brought home an adorable Shih Tzu puppy.
She was so soft and cuddly I couldn’t pass her up. Come to find out, we share the same birthday. And the lady I got her from has a daughter my exact age named Blair (also after the Facts of Life tv show character)! So, obviously, Linlee was meant to be my puppy!!
Thankfully, Linlee fit in perfectly in our family. And she turned out to be the lively playmate that Winnie needed. It is so cute to watch the two of them play together.
At one point in my life, I swore I’d never have an indoor dog. Oh, how times have changed! My three girls have full reign of the house.
I dress them up occasionally, matching outfits preferred. They get special birthday and holiday treats. Travis and I refer to our parents as grandpa and grandma. And we’ve given each dog their own voice we use to verbalize what we assume they’re thinking. It’s all in fun!
And, yes, like those in the popular Nichole Nordeman airport story, I have even FaceTimed with them.
Feel free to roll your eyes, but I’m not alone in this puppy craze!
Fur Baby Trend
A few decades ago, dogs were dogs. But now, many dogs are treated as well as human babies. The word “fur baby” was even added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2015, acknowledging this trend.
Now, while I am fine being referred to as a “fur mama,” my favorite thing about my puppies is that they are, in fact, not babies. If they were, I certainly would not have adopted the second or the third.
I definitely know that my dogs are not children. And that raising a child is much different than caring for a “fur baby.”
Puppies Not Babies
But I also know that my dogs give me some of the type of joys I’d get from parenthood with minimal expense and heartbreak. And the amount of care, financial commitment, and responsibility required as a “fur mama” is all I want to be obligated to.
A growing number of people in their childbearing years feel the same. A third of all Millennials say they don’t want children – ever. (1) But 57% of all millennial households have a least one dog. (2)
These statistics reverberate through Instagram with the use of the hashtag #puppiesnotbabies and the more popular #dogsnotkids.
Dogs improve our physical and mental health. They motivate us to get outdoors, they come along with us to “yappy hour” for drinks, and even cuddle up to and comfort us when we’re sad.
Take childfree celebrity, Dolly Parton, for example. There was a time when she was deeply depressed, on the verge of suicide. She believes her dog helped save her life! This is Dolly’s story as recounted to DailyMail.com:
“I was sitting upstairs in my bedroom one afternoon when I noticed in the nightstand drawer my gun that I keep for burglars. I looked at it a long time…
Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs. The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality.
I suddenly froze. I put the gun down. Then I prayed. I believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God.”
That’s Good Enough
While babyfied dogs are taking the traditional place of children in some families, puppies are not the new babies for the childfree by choice. The childfree do not have a baby-shaped void being filled with puppies.
Saying puppies are the new babies for the childfree would imply we are missing something, which we are not. The childfree by choice actively choose not to raise children. And in an unrelated decision, some of us choose to adopt puppies.
Pet blogger, Pamela Webster, says,
“I don’t love my dog because she’s the next best thing to having a kid. I love her because she’s my dog. And for some of us, that’s good enough.” (3)
Puppies Are Not Babies
Each of my dogs has a very different adoption story. However, not once did my husband and I adopt a puppy because we wanted a surrogate baby.
Puppies are puppies and babies are babies. Puppies are not the new babies.
Puppies are not babies … and to the childfree, that’s one of the best things about them!