Dogs as Family

The True Value of Belonging

Kids at Grand Canyon_1997








Have you seen the letter from a woman who used the Internet to shame those of us who call ourselves Pet Parents?

I guess she took exception to calling dogs our babies and our apparent ignorance of the difficulties in raising human children compared to the lowly canine.

I raised four (human) children – my son and daughter and twin step-daughters. I had sole custody of my son and daughter and very often found myself having to fill the shoes of both Mother and Father – from when they were toddlers until middle school.

Our children were raised with dogs and Arabian horses – great lifestyle choice, by the way. And, no, raising dogs and horses was nothing compared to the mixture of trials and triumphs that come with human kiddos.

My Babies

I was recently interviewed for a college project about the Los Angeles Pug Meetup.

Q: Do you call Auggie your child?

A: No, my wife does cuz she never had kids – although she helped raise mine for a few years.

Q: What about your baby?

A: Baby? They’re all my babies!!

So, there you have the awful truth. I refer (in public, no less) to my domesticated canines, descendants of majestic wolves, as my Babies! Because I’m a Pet Parent and proud of it.

I draw the line at calling them my children; though, in many ways, pet owners are also pet parents. That doesn’t make my pups my children. But, you’d never know it.

Part of the Family

Flower Millie_052417

I came down to the Kitchen this morning and Ellen said, “We need more children’s hangers for Millie’s clothes.”

Okay, so my Toxirn wore dresses when she went to work with me. Every day.

Since this blog was first posted, I went to work for the largest alcohol, drug, and mental health treatment center in California. Hospital setting = no Millie.

It’s weird, though. The pups all have sweaters for when it gets chilly; but, other than that, I would have never dressed a dog in clothes. Are you kidding me? Clothes on a dog?!

Of course, then I met Millie, the Heart Grabber, the Affection Stealer, the…well, Daddy’s Little Girl.

Kimpton Goodland, Santa Barbara_070717

When I come home from the gym or wherever, Ellen says, “Your daughter cried when you left.” When Auggie marks in the house, I tell Ellen, “Your son peed in the house.”

I guess I can see how that would be a little confusing to someone like the woman who wrote about Pet Parents.

Our dogs are our Family in a very real sense. When we walk in the door, the pups run to us – and I mean run – just like my son and daughter did when they were young and I picked them up from daycare. Beatin’ feet, Baby!

We come home to happiness and unmitigated joy every single day; so, is it any wonder that we call Millie and Stella our Baby Girls; and, Auggie and Rocky our Boys?

Pet Parenting

Why are pet owners, in many ways, like Pet Parents? Because the average dog has the mental abilities of a 2-year old child. The really, really smart dogs (like yours)? The same as a 2 ½ year old child.

Have you raised a 2-year old?! If not, I hope you have children someday so you can experience the joy. No, wait. That sounds like some kind of curse.

Collin & Ashley_Jun 1991

Seriously, though, I wouldn’t trade the experience of being a single father with sole custody of a 3-year old son and 2-year old daughter for anything.

The world is filled with wonderful things to a 2-year old. Everywhere you go, there are things to see and touch and, if Daddy’s not careful, to taste. Things to learn. Everything new and exciting.

It’s the same with dogs. I daresay it’s exactly the same with dogs. And, both children and dogs depend on us for their very lives.

Let’s face it, your 2-year old child cannot survive on its own any more than your designer dog can. (The further away from wolf-like a breed gets, the more it was designed to be that way.) They depend on us for literally everything to continue living; and, if POOF, we’re suddenly gone? They die.

Nirvana Sweatshirt Auggie_070817

Would a German Shepherd be alright, you ask? Yeah, probably. If it could get out of the house. And if it got out of the house, if it could get over the fence or wall.

And, if it managed to get out of the house and over that 6-foot block wall around your back yard, all it would have to do is find water and chase down a rabbit or squirrel or three.

Every day. And fight every other animal trying to do the same thing.

But, your miniature Poodle or my Pug? Forget it.

So, it falls on us, the Pet Parents to meet their needs, keep them safe, and teach them how to act – exactly like a 2-year old human child. (Sorry, letter writing woman.)

That’s the True Value of Belonging

~ George

Your dog loves you; but, it also needs you. Be a good pet parent.

Want to read more about dog intelligence?

American Psychological Association. 10 August 2009. Dogs’ intelligence on par with two-year-old human, canine researcher says. Retrieved from

Bryner, J. 8 August 2009. Dogs as smart as 2-year-old kids. Retrieved from:

Unknown. 12 November 2017. Dog intelligence. Retrieved from