How having a dog prepared me for a baby

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Our friends at Animal Planet are running a contest: Puppies vs. Babies. Voting begins Oct. 22 and in the end, the top puppy and baby will go head-to-head in a battle of the cutest. Submit a photo of your canine or human cutie and you could win $5,000!

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Not my puppy (or baby)

While my 11-year-old Pit Bull is no longer a puppy and my 23-month-old daughter is now more toddler than baby, the contest got me thinking back to how being a pet parent was in some ways good practice for having a newborn.

So if you’re a pet parent considering having kids, take heart: You’re more prepared than you think. Here’s why:

You’re already responsible for another life. For petless folks, having a baby represents a big loss of freedom — no more spontaneous weekends in Paris (well, okay, my life was never like that, but it’s nice to think someone‘s is!). But if you have a pet, you’re used to thinking about someone else when you make plans.

You understand non-verbal communication. A newborn is a bundle of needs — for food, sleep, comfort and going to the bathroom — with no language to express them. Sound familiar? Pet parents have already learned the subtle art of reading body language, a skill that persists regardless of whether that body is furry and four-legged or otherwise.


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This is my puppy (and baby)

You’re not freaked out by poop. Self-explanatory (and also true for pee and throw-up).

You know not to lay blame. Just as yelling at a dog for peeing on the rug will get you nowhere, you can’t be angry at a baby for crying. With both, it’s your responsibility to create a situation in which they behave the way you want, whether that means taking the dog outside when he needs to pee or putting the baby down when she needs to sleep (and both cases require lots of trial and error on your part).

Many pet parents have told me they can’t imagine loving a baby as much as they love their pets. But don’t worry — you will, and having already loved unconditionally will even give you an edge. I’ll confess to an ulterior motive here: I want to convince more pet-lovers to have kids. The world needs more people like you!


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