Back in the pre-baby days, any time my husband and I dealt with a pet catastrophe, I'd say by rote, "How will we ever take care of a baby?" and my husband would answer, "Babies aren't animals!"
I'm no trainer, so we've had our share of chewed-up shoes and cell phones, excessive barking and "accidents" between our grumpy Pembroke Welsh corgi, Dexter; our hopelessly unintelligent and fence-jumping mixed breed, Gertie; and calico cat (rescued from the mean streets of Strasburg), Elsie.
My pets make even Marley look good.
Whether we were driving through the subdivision tracking down good ole' Gert or bracing ourselves for a trip to the vet with Dexter, the question weighed on me heavily: "How will we ever take care of a baby?"
My husband's answer offered no solace.
Of course babies aren't animals, I thought, but there are enough similarities: As adults, both are our responsibility. Both depend on us for food, nurture, health care, and, perhaps the thing I was most worried about, instruction on how to behave.
The last thing I wanted was for my future children to be as unruly as the animals in my family.
I recalled all those worries a week ago when, on a trip to see my brother, my baby and his dog kept getting their wires crossed.
Playing with my little crawler on the floor, I'd call to him "come and get me," and somehow kept winding up with a canine in my lap instead.
I'd ask my son, "Bite?" during lunchtime and have both his and Bluesy's attention.
Now that my baby is not far from a year old, I see that babies and pets have even more in common than I counted on: They comprehend the same basic key words, "bite," "hungry," "kisses," "come," "no-no."
Both have peed on my carpet. Both chew on coffee tables, and even shoes.
Both pets and babies can be hard to hold down and give a bath.
Both will grab the food right off your plate the minute you aren't looking.
Both can frustrate you with their lack of ability to speak, yet both can be too loud.
Both drool, and, sometimes, bite.
Both can make road trips a little more difficult.
Both need their vaccines.
Both are great to take naps with, and walks with.
Both enjoy a good old-fashioned game of fetch.
Both can give you a look that melts your heart, and both like getting their belly rubbed.
Both definitely keep you on your toes.
Yes, babies and pets have even more in common than I might have feared back when I would question how I could ever handle a baby.
Thankfully, though, I have to admit that my husband was right. Not to say that I don't like my pets, but there are plenty of differences.
Taking care of my son never feels like a chore. Stopping for diapers, or even changing one, is just part of the job.
Babies learn to hug you back, learn to listen (at least better than my pets do anyway) and are much more welcome in stores and restaurants. Babies don't drink out of the toilet (at least mine hasn't yet).
Most importantly, the love, pride and sense of protectiveness I feel for my son? Incomparable.
Contact Jessica Wiant at firstname.lastname@example.org.