I wasn’t going to go there, “there” being what I’ve come to think of as the Pet Mommy Wars.  I  don’t like the term “pet mom,” and never refer to myself that way.

And that’s not even to get into the whole cutting-back-on pet-blogging issue. If I thought blogging regularly was hard, not blogging may almost be harder. Feedback is addictive. Note to self: Get new blog going.

But a few things interfered with my resolve not to get involved.

Let me backtrack.

It all started with a mean-spirited piece in Huffington Post, Pet Parents are NOT Moms. Several pet bloggers responded with the scorn the piece deserved, including  Dr. V of Pawcurious. I didn’t think I had much to add to the conversation.

Then I started thinking back on the last few weeks.

As regular readers know, I’ve been working on a family history project. My sister has pitched in and she’s been putting together our family tree. Naturally, she added her children and grandchildren to  it. My first instinct was to add Frankie, only partly as a joke, but I thought that would seem disrespectful to my sister and my nieces. Instead, I added my ex-husband so I wouldn’t seem like a complete loser in the human bonding department, but really– sorry, Al — Frankie has been a far more integral part of my life.

Then there was the recent guesthouse tenant. I was telling her  my usual story about how I used to be a travel writer until I got a dog who got diabetes, which meant traveling less. She looked at me pityingly and said, “I could never get that attached.”

Of course, if you are reading this, you are almost certainly one of the people who do get that attached. And it occurred to me that this makes the relationship with a pet more emotionally complex than one with a human child. You go into this thing, this pet ownership or parenthood or whatever you want to call it, knowing that your heart is going to break because the chances are very good that your pet is going to die before you do. You do it anyway.

Or you don’t know that in advance, as I didn’t, clueless as I was, but you realize it soon enough and you accept it, because what are the alternatives?

Then, to compound the difficulty of that emotional commitment, there are many people out there who don’t understand your loss when it comes, who write dumb articles about how you’re an idiot for comparing your bond with your pet with actual parenthood. Feeling like you’re crazy makes experiencing that loss doubly hard.

But what finally convinced me to write this post was receiving a wonderful Mother’s Day card, reproduced here, from Frankie.

Ok, I know the card wasn’t really from Frankie, but I don’t know who it was from — a wonderful mystery person who lives in San Francisco (that’s what it’s postmarked) and who is my friend on Facebook (that’s where the picture on the front is from) and who knows my mailing address. You’d think that would narrow it down, but I have more than one candidate in mind.

The point is, this mystery person did a wonderful thing by acknowledging the importance of my commitment to Frankie. It made my day… maybe my week and month. And it deserves recognition.

It doesn’t matter what you call the relationship, though I prefer to say that Frankie is my Significant Canine Other, and vice versa. The bond is something worth celebrating, today and every other day.

Note to Frankie: You’ve got card-sending down, and I appreciate that. Now could you please work on bringing me breakfast in bed? Mine, not yours? And not recycled? Thank you.

27 thoughts on “Happy Pet Mother’s Day, Recognition of Pet-Human Bond Day, Or Whatever You Want to Call It”

    1. Isn’t it pretty to think so… Frankie would expect the same life of privilege he enjoys now, I’m sure. He would claim his thumbs hurt if necessary.

  1. Who gives a dog poop what people think? My dogs are my kids. I never wanted the skin kind but I’m perfectly satisfied, no make that thrilled, to have my sight hound fur kids. They rock. They also make me get out of bed in the morning far earlier than I would if I didn’t have dogs. They make me laugh and smile. I’ve seen skin kids in the grocery store and restaurant screaming their brains out, nothing funny about that.

    There’s a damn day to celebrate just everything. There should be a National Pet Mom day. I’m surprised some dog food company hasn’t petitioned for that yet.

    1. Ha, that’s my curmudgeonly friend! I don’t think I’ve every heard the term “skin kids.” I’m thinking you don’t use that around parents of human babies too often?

      Happy National Pet Mom Day. I think you should get it started.

  2. “Mama” was a name I was given, not one I necessarily asked for, but over the years, I’ve come to embrace it. To me, it’s never really quit fit, but it fit “better” than any other moniker suggested. (Though I love your phrase Significant Canine Other). There really is no word for me that sums up all you outlined above. No name that really says just how much more my dogs meant to me than 99.9% of all other humans. No name that sums up the unwavering, unconditional love that only dogs are capable of. If the word is wrong, then all the names I’d use are wrong, so who cares. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, right?

  3. Great card! If the relationship isn’t parenting, I don’t know what it is. I don’t get why some parents of humans are so insecure they find it necessary to denigrate someone else’s family.Like there’s so much unconditional love on the world we should feel free to toss out the kinds that are different from ours.

  4. While I was reading this post yesterday on my phone, my dog jumped on to the couch and laid her front paws in my lap. It’s not something she does all that often so I am going to take that as a sign she agrees with everything above. I have never considered myself my dog’s parent and also love the term SCO, but I do believe we have a meaningful relationship worth celebrating. My dog will still be snuggling with me on the couch long after others’ human children are stomping around the house, claiming everyone hates them. I think I’ll stick with my dog.

  5. There was a clue on the back of the card as to the sender. And you know what’s cool about the internet? When you use an online service, the card can be sent by anyone, anywhere. But, it’s not from a friend in San Francisco…

    1. Hmmm, Ms. Not-From_San_Francisco… Is that a Viszla in that teeny tiny square I can barely see? That would make a lot of sense! Please confirm or deny.

          1. favorite dog breed is beagle (although you may not know that, it should be easy to guess why). Afraid of commas.

          2. Are we related? The comma part has completely thrown me off! And will the OCR scanner code reveal your identity if I find some way to scan it?

          1. Gotcha, Rebecca! I will out you as the mystery card sender and regale you more properly elsewhere. I can figure out why you like Beagles, what with having Brandy as a childhood dog, but what is it with you and commas?

  6. As a mom of both skin and fur variety of kids, I will tell you that the fur kind are definitely more obedient! I have always believed that people who don’t want kids shouldn’t have ’em, and it takes guts in this society to admit you’re not parent material.

    (Yet somehow, Ms. Jarolim, I suspect you would have been a super “human” mom too… just a hunch. 🙂 )

    1. That’s very kind of you to say about my potential for being a mother to a human but I have my doubts. I’ve never been very domestic and would have been super stressed about trying to cook and clean and shape a young mind. Frankie doesn’t care about my housekeeping skills or lack thereof. He’s not terribly obedient because of his terrier-ness but at least he never yells “I HATE YOU!,” only barks at me in disapproval for my sins, as he perceived them.

  7. Someone once asked a bunch of us what we called ourselves in relation to our pets. I am not the guardian of my dogs; to me, guardian connotes the previous ability of the guardian-ee to have been able to exercise decisions on her behalf before being unable; therefore, I am an owner, which makes me legally responsible for the welfare of my animals – BUT, I am also a Mom, because to me, Mom means love :).
    Happy Canine Other Day!

    1. Thank you, Roberta! Same to you. I agree with you about the term “owner” by the way because of the implications of legal responsibility; that’s the term I generally use. Some people have a problem with it because of the historical connotations but, as far as my relationship with Frankie is concerned, everyone knows who is the slave and who is the owner, who is the served and who is the servee.

  8. I’m getting around to this a little late, having spent Mother’s Day weekend with my boys in a campground without Internet coverage – but you likely already know my feelings on the topic. Like you, I’ve chosen canines to children and couldn’t be happier with the decision. To those that want to marginalize our relationships with our dogs … stick it! This is not a competition over who loves who more. The point is that we each love our family members – be they pets or kids – the best that we can.

  9. I don’t generally refer to myself as Honey’s mom. But I often wonder if many of us who are so reluctant to take on that name have ambivalent feelings about our own mothers?

    I think our relationships with our dogs are much less complex. (Of course, our neuroses can make even the most pure friendship freakish.)

  10. If I parent any kids I have more than I parent my dog, people will call me a crazy helicopter mom. If I parent them at the same level I parent Peach, I’ll be normal.

    Except for the fact that I do, in fact, parent Peach. In addition to the pick up, I also had to wipe her bum earlier. Just because she is small and hairy, doesn’t mean I don’t parent her!

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