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I’m Not a Dog Person, But My Kid Is

Alright, let's get this out the way. I don't like dogs. I don't even really like cats. I am not a pet person.

Let the bashing begin.

I've learned over the years that this weird thing happens when you admit to people that you don't think their dog is the best thing ever. They stop what they are doing and look at you, clearly questioning what it is that's wrong with you. Because no kind, caring, compassionate person would be so disconnected when it comes to furry friends.

Right?

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Look, I get it. As a woman who has always wanted to be a mom, it's the same way I have unintentionally looked at women who don't want kids in the past. While I totally respect their right to make that decision (and their ability to do so, in a world that is forever trying to pressure women into motherhood) I just don't get it. It's hard for me to understand.

So I know that when a dog-lover hears me say, "I don't like dogs," it's hard for them to push past that gut reaction that tells them something's not right with me.

But in my defense, I have a really good reason. When I was 8 years old, I was attacked by a neighborhood dog. It was a Chow I had known and been around since puppyhood, but on this day, for whatever reason, something snapped in that dog and it quite literally tore my face off. I had 75+ stitches and gobs of plastic surgery over the years to repair the damage. I still remember laying there in the hospital, doctors and nurses holding me down as shots, needles and stitches took over my view. I still remember my dad, a homicide detective who had seen plenty of gore, being unable to sit in that same room and hold my hand. Because seeing his little girl on the table like that? It was all just too much.

I worked really hard to keep my daughter from inheriting my discomfort around animals, but I never expected her to so fully embrace them.

So when I say I'm not a dog person, try not to hate me. I promise, I don't hold any ill-will against your pup. I wouldn't even say I'm afraid anymore, though I was for years. I'm just more … uncomfortable. And less than excited about being slobbered or jumped on.

It really is more of a disconnect than anything.

But then, my daughter was born. And I had this moment where I thought to myself, "Do I want to pass this on to her? Do I want my kid inheriting my discomfort around dogs?"

The answer was no. I don't want her to be afraid or uncomfortable. I don't want her to be unsure of herself in any situation.

And I don't want other people to look at her like she's a crappy person, just because she doesn't like dogs.

So from very early on, I gave my friends (most of whom are dog people) permission to share their love of dogs with my little girl. I would hang back, sometimes even leaving the room, while friends would introduce her to their pups, letting her pet and cuddle them in the same way they had allowed their own babies to do.

This trend continued until my little girl entered toddlerhood, gleefully singing out "Puppy!" any time a dog was in our midst. And I thought to myself, "Good job! Way to put her first."

Because surely my job was done when it came to fostering in her a love of animals, right?

Wrong.

A few months ago, some close friends asked if we could dog sit their two Goldendoodles for the weekend. Hilarious because, who asks the non-dog person to dog sit? In their defense, they were in a bind. And again, it's not like I hate dogs. I was certainly capable of hanging around their house and feeding their pups for a few days. And because they were dogs I had known for years, at least I was somewhat comfortable around them.

What I hadn't bargained for was how much my daughter would love her new role as a doggy caretaker.

That toddler of mine was in heaven. I mostly just endured. She spent the entire weekend cuddled up between those dogs. She leapt to let them out the back door anytime they needed to pee. She begged to be the one scooping food into their bowls. And when she woke up in the mornings, she jumped out of bed yelling, "Mommy, where are my boys?"

That's right. She called them "my boys."

Since that weekend, her love for our friends' dogs has only grown deeper. She knows them all by name, asks about them when we haven't seen them in a few days and will sometimes run to the pups first when we go to visit.

My kid is totally a dog person. And I'm realizing now, there is totally a dog in our future.

Because how do you deny a child who loves dogs a pet of their very own?

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I don't really know how this happened. I worked really hard to keep my daughter from inheriting my discomfort around animals, but I never expected her to so fully embrace them. Though now that she has, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. After all, kind, caring, compassionate people love dogs, right?

So, yeah, there is a pup in our future. And I'm even mostly OK with that fact, because watching my girl around dogs kind of warms my heart to them as well.

Though I doubt I'll ever be truly excited about it. And we're totally waiting until she's old enough to pick up the poop before adding our new addition. Because I may be willing to compromise on the dog thing, but there's no way I'm doing all the work.

Photograph by: Leah Campbell

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