My Child Has Paws, and Here’s Why She Still Counts on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is here again. And that means photos all over Facebook of all the moms out there and quote images shared expressing our gratitude and beautiful cards and gifts and lots of flowers. And I, too, participate in all of this.

But I also participate in a different kind of Mother’s Day. The one where I honor myself for the mom I am to my kid. The one with paws and a tail. The one I’ve raised for 12 years. Haylie, the one that represents kids to moms all over who don’t have human children of their own, by choice or by circumstance, and deserve recognition on Mother’s Day alongside the other moms.

Many people will argue that having a dog is not the same as raising human children. Maybe not. You won’t have the same dog your entire life, while you’re mothering your humans until the end. You’re not responsible for teaching your dog morals and values and ABC’s and the purpose of life. But to those who say dogs don’t count on Mother’s Day, I’d like to share with you some of the many experiences I’ve had as Haylie’s mom:

  1. I spent years when she was a puppy having to discipline her out of certain behaviors and teach her new ones. The Great Night of Frustration of 2007 included a trail of garbage and coffee grinds strewn from the kitchen trash can through the house to the living room and a massive puddle of red Kool-Aid soaking into the carpet while I sat on the floor and cried. Those were the cries of a mother.
  2. When I was living with her in an apartment I’d go to work exhausted because I was up the night before dressing her in her pink leash and harness and taking her outside to pee at the beckon of her whines around 11pm, 2am, 4am…
  3. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on her, and not just on veterinary bills and dog food but on Christmas presents and doggie birthday pies and treats and coat conditioning sprays and doggie daycare and boarding during traveling and beds and blankets and bowls and brushes and collars and the list goes on and on.
  4. When she was diagnosed with lymphoma in September of 2019, it destroyed me.
  5. When she wouldn’t eat during chemotherapy and now, during the months after chemo, while her appetite is still decreased, I patiently feed her one forkful at a time until she finishes her bowl.
  6. Now that she’s begun having some early kidney problems and her bladder leaks at times, I gently wrap a diaper on her every single night before we go to bed.
  7. I’ve cleaned her eye boogers, given her medications, brushed her, bathed her, cleaned out her ears, fed her, watered her, bought her toys, picked up after her, woken up in the middle of the night with her, and left things early to get home to her for almost 13 years.

These are all things a mother does. In fact, most of them (hi, diapers), there’s literally no difference between caring for a human child and caring for a dog. Your heart still breaks the same when they’re hurting and you can’t help or take away what they’re going through. Your joy still reaches the rooftops the first time they pee in the appropriate place to pee. Your frustration still takes over whether they’re chewing up your shoe or coloring on your wall.

So this Mother’s Day, I honor all the dog moms. The ones who are raising hairy, 4-legged, high-maintenance, expensive dogs who they love with their whole hearts and wouldn’t trade for the world. Here’s to you.

photo: iStock

The post My Child Has Paws, and Here’s Why She Still Counts on Mother’s Day appeared first on The Good Men Project.