Me: "Do you have kids?"
Random Person: "No, but we got a puppy a couple months ago, so we know what it's like."
Me: (walks away laughing)
I have had some variation of that conversation at nearly every social gathering of my adult life. And it drives me nuts. I get that there are some similarities between pets and kids. Like, they are both living things. And they are both cute (or, at least, you think yours are). And once you have one, you are expected to keep it alive. But that's about where the similarities end.
Here are 10 ways that having a baby is different than having a dog:
If you decide you want a dog, you can have a dog later today. If you decide you want a baby, you might have a baby in, at the very least, and if you are very lucky, 10 months.
You can leave a dog at home by itself if you need to run to the grocery store or want to get your hair cut. You cannot leave a baby at home by itself unless you want to cause severe emotional harm and/or go to jail. That baby is coming to the grocery store with you no matter how fussy she is, and you won't be getting your hair cut any time soon.
You can put a dog in a cage when you have company over so that it doesn't bother your guests. You can attempt to lay a baby down in its crib for a nap when you have company over, but it will likely just scream until you pick it up and bring it out to bother you and your guests.
You can decide after a few months or years that you aren't a dog person after all or that it's not the right time in your life to have a dog and put an ad on Craig's list to find a new home for the dog. You cannot do this with a baby (well, you probably can, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal).
You can buy a 40-pound bag of food and a few bags of Beggin' Strips and feed your dog for a month. Not so for babies.
You can buy your dog a sweater or two if you want, but you aren't required to clothe it if you don't want to. You must clothe your baby, and he will grow faster than you ever thought possible which means you will have to buy him clothes in the next size up every couple months (not to mention diapers, shoes, coats, hats, socks, etc.).
You might teach your dog a few fun tricks or take it to obedience school. But you will never suffer through the frustration of teaching it how to read or tie its shoes, or be required by the state to sign it up for school (where you can only assume its actions are seen as a direct reflection of your parenting skills).
You can leave your dog home (in a crate if you wish) while you go to work all day - and it's free! If you'd like to work when you have a child, you must find reliable, trustworthy childcare - which is far from free (unless you are lucky enough to have amazing, commitment-free family members in the area who are willing to watch your child whenever you need them).
Your dog may or may not bark when you command it to "speak." But it will never talk back to you or tell you it hates you or throw itself on the floor crying because you asked it to clean its room.
You will never have to send your dog out into the world to begin its life outside your home or watch it start a family of its own and hope that you have taught it everything it needs to know to find happiness in its successes and lessons in its failures. But that is pretty much the end game of parenting.
The pediatrician told me to try not to compare my baby to other human babies. So, please, stop comparing her to your puppy.