JoAnna Lou
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Dogs as Children
Having kids changes the way we see our pets

Does having kids change the way we see our pets? A new study presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting this month found that people with human offspring are less likely to consider their pets children. The research conducted by a professor at Indiana University South Bend found that even people who used to think of their pets as kids often re-evaluate the relationship when they have human children.

Additionally, the way we perceive our dogs is also influenced by where we live. The study found that urban pups are more likely to be considered children. People in rural areas are more likely to see animals, including dogs, in a utilitarian way.

I live in the city, so I suppose I easily fall under the category of people who would consider their pets children. Although I don't have any human kids. I can imagine that having a baby is a life changing experience. I can't say that my definition of the word child will change, but to me labels doesn't matter. I know that my pets will always be an important part of the family.

How do you define a child?


JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by apium, flickr.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by anonymous | August 21 2010 |

I'm a city dweller with no kids and I definitely think of my dogs as my children. That doesn't mean I dress them up. It does mean that I would do pretty much anything to make them happy.

Submitted by Anonymous | August 24 2010 |

My husband and I are trying for a baby, but I think (I hope) our dog will always be our first child.

Submitted by Carolyn | August 28 2010 |

While I certainly appreciate and respect Maggie as an animal -- a dog, not a human -- I can also say that she certainly occupies center stage in our lives.

Submitted by Sandi K | August 29 2010 |

Let dogs be dogs. They are beloved and precious but not human, even though they have many of the same emotions and can read our feelings very well--make great companions--they are dogs. You do not have to send them to college. They will not support you in your old age. They take 1 or 2 intense years of training--not 20. They never learn to do laundry, cut the grass or vacuum. You can leave them at home alone in a crate when you need to go out and no one calls Human Services. You can't put them on your health care package. When they get old and sick you can put them out of their misery without going to prison. They cannot put you into a nursing home.
All being said--it really is an insult to humans and dogs alike to call dogs our children. They are dogs and proud of it.

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