My generation has, for the most part, completely rated children as, well, to put it bluntly, icky. We’re holding off on marriage, which invariably has dropped the American birth rate of individuals in their late 20’s and early 30’s to an all-time low. Sure, we stay married longer, which is doing wonders for the sleazy divorce lawyers that have Baby Boomer’s marching in their offices, and there’s the occasional oddball of a Millennial that has it all together by their 30th birthday with a husband and a teensy baby in their arms with a gorgeous house and a perfect life on Instagram. But for the rest of us, we’re stuck in a mind throbbingly frustrating cycle of careers that are unfulfilling (because they’re the only ones that hire us) with condescending adultier-adults harassing us about “settling down” and inevitably reminding us that our biological clock is ticking. So, the simple solution is to do what we have to do to survive. We have pushed back onto society one of the greatest movements I’ve ever seen: dogs (or cats) > kids.
I have found the reason for the record-low birth rates of young American adults.
(Don’t fuss at me for you cat-loving fiends, I know ya’ll are caught up in this too, but I’m talking pups in this article.)
Millennials are forgoing the stinky, fussy, expensive, not to mention rude (they NEVER let you sleep) crotch-fruit that we all know as soul-sucking babies. We’re getting married, sure, but those rates are dropping too. Spare me your bleeding-heart bleat that babies are awesome people, because they are, but the fact is this: dogs are simply better than babies.
Imagine this: you’ve gone off to college. You pick a degree. You study for said degree. Then, before you’re able to become an adult, the housing market collapses within your first few years of trying to get a steady paying job. You’re turned away time and time again for a hire because of your beloved college degree and are now considered “overqualified.” That’s business-speak for “we can’t afford you.” Now, you’re stuck as a cashier at your local grocery store living at home because you’re only making $8.00 an hour and after taxes and student loans, you don’t have enough money to save up for rent.
If you’re lucky, you might find someone special in this time, and if you’re even luckier, you might be able to plan a shotgun wedding and get a tiny apartment to yourselves (but not afford a honeymoon because your budget is already spread too thin). You’re surviving, but there isn’t enough to pay for baby formula at $20 per bucket and diapers at $40 a box. You both want a “baby” but there simply isn’t a chance to be able to afford one. So what do you do?
You get a dog.
Now, you’re emotionally fulfilled, you have someone that truly loves you unconditionally, and you’re officially a member of an elite group: pet parents. I may be biased, sure, but when it comes down to it, dogs are a more realistic choice for Millennial generations. When you’ve got work duties up to your elbows, a generation that believes that real, honest dating is as simple as a swipe left or right on a cell phone, and severe anxiety from boomers’ nasty comments (even if well-intended) ringing in your ears…
If you’re my age, you know exactly what I mean. If you don’t then you probably live under a rock. As a millennial, we’re judged constantly. I remember when my second nephew was born and we were checking in to the old-folks’ home that my grandparents lived in to show them pictures of my brand-new family member, when my mom mentioned that she was a grandmother twice to receptionist and showed her a picture. The woman looked directly at me, a twentysomething that she barely knew, and remarked, “No kids? How can you make your poor mother wait so long for more grandbabies?”
I didn’t even dignify her with an answer. I just walked away, sick to my stomach. My husband and I have wanted a family for years but we’ve had other priorities, like getting our jobs started, and being financially stable enough to support ourselves, let alone a baby. On top of all of that, we have fertility issues as well. But I guarantee you, that won’t be the last time someone asks me about it. It’s rude, ya’ll.
So here we are. I’m of the opinion that dogs are better than babies. Here’s my reasons why.
Reason One: Dogs are the babies you get to choose.
I remember every moment that I knew I was getting a puppy. Those moments filled my heart with so much joy, and they still do. Sure, a baby is great, if you’re ready for one. But what about a dog? Bringing a baby into the world is stressful and expensive, plus, have you seen how much medical bills are for a maternity ward?
My dogs are my babies. I say that proudly, because if I had the ability to get pregnant when I wanted to, I would have. My dogs are a huge part of my life and have filled a baby-sized hole in my heart. They aren’t replacements forever, but they’re important to me and that’s all that matters.
Reason Two: Poop bags are way less expensive than diapers.
I’m 100% serious. Diapers are expensive. If you go through diapers like the average family, you will easily drop $900 a year on diapers alone. Without the cost of childbirth, the average bouncing babe will cost you $13,000 in the first year alone, and that’s not even including the cost of childbirth. Owning a puppy for the first year is an average of about $1200, but if you’re smart with your money, you’re still yards ahead of the baby boppers.
Reason Three: Dogs are scientifically proven to improve our well-being.
Dogs (and cats) have been proven to reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and improve our overall health. Some dogs can be trained to literally save your life by preventing you from harming yourself, detecting cancer, or sensing when your insulin becomes dangerously low. Humans generally don’t get a whiff and know something’s wrong, unless they’re a doctor, and in those cases, they’re often unreliable too. Not to mention…do you have people in your life that genuinely improve your mood 100% of the time? No? Get a dog.
Reason Four: Dogs reduce stress; babies increase it.
I love kids. I genuinely do. But man, they can be incredibly stressful. Worrying constantly about another tiny human and their well-being is exhausting, emotionally, physically, spiritually…plus, it can take a toll on your marriage, health, cause depression…
There’s a reason why there are a bajillion mom groups on Facebook. There’s a reason you always see stressed parents trying to harness their minuscule monsters at parks, zoos, and other public outing locations. They’re everywhere. And yet, even though these individuals chose to become parents (in most instances), they aren’t happy with their lives. Parents are constantly putting their own needs on the back burner. And if we’re honest with ourselves, is that what parenthood is supposed to be? Can you put parenting and happiness together? How many individuals have reproduced because society pressured them to? How much happier would they be if they had decided that being a parent wasn’t a true desire they had for their lives?
The sad reality is that in today’s day and age, people are putting their kids first and their relationships fifth, sixth, seventh in line.
When I was growing up, it was extremely common for classmates and friends’ parents to either be divorced, get divorced, or have already previously divorced parents. I’m no psychologist, but seeing as the Millennial divorce rate has plummeted over 20% since the 80’s, the fact is, that we genuinely care about how our relationships wind up. That, and for a fair number of us, seeing how miserable a divorce made our parents was enough to ensure that if we ever did get married and have kids, it was for the right reasons. Simply put: no kids, less stress, add a dog, and get the added benefits of adding a dog to the household…minus the kids.
Reason Five: Dogs encourage us to go outside and have adventures.
Save for several couch-potato breeds (looking at you, Bloodhounds) the vast majority of dogs want to go outside and play. I’ll be the first to admit that people my age have an unhealthy addiction to all things Netflix and pizza…but having a dog changes all of that. Some breeds, like the Husky or Lab require the expulsion of copious amounts of energy per day because that’s what they were bred to do. To keep your dog happy, they need mental stimulation and physical exercise, otherwise, they will utilize their surroundings to get the exertion out somehow.
If you’re looking for an excuse to go outside and live a healthier lifestyle, there is no better coach than a pupper with a zest for life. Besides, with the emergence of dog-friendly locations, bars, and welcome stations in companies like Whole Foods, Petco, Target, and other dog-friendly chains, it’s not difficult to have to run errands with your faithful buddy by your side. Added bonus: people love dogs. If you want to meet new people, go to an event that is dog friendly. You’ll find new friends abound for both yourself and your Fido.
Reason Six: Dogs don’t go to college.
The average college tuition for a student attending a four-year university and living on campus today is $34,000. Pair that with student loan interest and payments due six months after graduation and you have a recipe for a bunch of college graduates that simply can’t afford to have a baby…let alone save up enough to be able to pay for one. Remember when I said earlier that the average cost of a child is $13,000 in the first year? Multiply that by 18. Then add $34,000 to it. If you’re still paying for your loans from college into your thirties, adding on a mountain of debt for medical bills, a college fund, and whatever else the kid might need (hobbies add up too!). Per child (and lifestyle choices) this could tally up to be well over $100,000 in a kiddo’s lifetime, per kid. If you stick to owning a dog (or two or three) you would have eons of time and fun activities to do before you rack up that kind of money in debt.
Reason Seven: Dogs don’t argue back or disrespect you.
Save for the move vocal pups (ahem…huskies) dogs don’t argue with you. Now, those of you that are current dog owners know that dog arguing is a little different than human arguing…they might sigh heavily or flop onto the floor in an adorable tantrum, but for what it’s worth, dogs won’t ever argue with you, nor will they ever disrespect you. As a teacher by day, I know firsthand that even the best students and children have their moments and can be downright rude. Parenting isn’t easy, but let’s be honest for a second here, dog ownership can have its moments too. Dogs are a big responsibility. You’re caring for another sentient being that can get sick, have accidents, mess up by chewing up that brand new pair of dress shoes you just bought…but unlike with kids, dogs will show you unconditional love, even if you aren’t the best pet parent all the time. If you mess up, they won’t judge you for it. No makeup? Awesome. Ordering a pizza for the third night in a row? CAN WE SHARE?
That isn’t to say that they won’t always respect your boundaries either….it’s been about 10 years since I’ve gone to the restroom in my house by myself simply because my pups (and cats) think it’s a group activity. Don’t take it personally, you have to accompany them to the bathroom too, so they think it’s normal. And an added bonus, the stinkier your #2, the better. Still no judgement from your fur-kids…and well, from human kids…well, we all understand how parenting and diapers go together.
Reason Eight: Dogs won’t complain about what you cook for dinner.
My dogs have been on the same food for years and not once have they looked at their bowl and tell me via face expression “Yeah, right!” In fact, two of the four are so enthusiastic about dinner time that they salivate when I go to put food in their bowls.
Every. Single. Time.
Kids? They’ll love macaroni and cheese one day and think it’s gross the next. Too bad you’ve already stocked up on seventeen boxes of it because that’s all they would eat last week. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. We as a society have gotten so used to the idea that the child runs the household (especially at mealtimes) that there are marketing strategies directed at them and them alone. How’s that for comforting? It isn’t.
Dogs will be grateful for what you give them (and maybe a little too grateful for table scraps if they get any at your house) every time without fail. On occassion, you will have the oddball that has unique eating quirks (like pups that insist on having their food “cooked” in the oven before they eat it, or ones like our Catahoula who are allergic to EVERYTHING and need to have their food meticulously checked for allergens, but for the most part, dogs love food almost as much as they love you. No headaches about dinner time, no screaming tantrums at the restaurant with a toddler, and certainly no bargaining with them to eat their meal. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Reason Nine: Dogs love to nap.
For all the parents that I know, there is a number one complaint universal to all…parenting is exhausting. Being responsible for a tiny human is not only physically draining, but it takes a toll on you emotionally, spiritually, mentally…I could go on and on. Parents are tired ya’ll. It’s an epidemic. In the first few years of a child’s life, a parent can expect to get anywhere from 30 to 59 percent less sleep than adults of the same age without children. That’s the equivalent of choosing to get no sleep for 50 nights out of a year. For fussy babies or single parents, they’re getting even less sleep; in fact, the LA Times says that single parents are the most sleep deprived of all adults.
It goes without saying that if you get less sleep, you’re more likely to run into a whole slew of health-related issues like depression, heart disease, and diabetes, to name a few, plus, who in their right mind would want to be sleep deprived on a constant basis? Not me.
My pups know that when it’s nap time, it’s GO time. They know when I ask if they want to take a nap, that they get quality nap time. Kids? They will actually argue against nap time. No one wants that. No one has time for that nonsense either. Save your sanity. Get a dog.
Reason Ten: Dogs allow you more freedom than a baby.
My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe in a couple years. We have places that we want to go visit that aren’t necessarily kid-friendly. This past weekend, we were in New Orleans and got to see the nonsense and debauchery of Bourbon street. And guess what?
People brought their dogs, but not their kids.
Why? First of all, a dog won’t be emotionally scarred from an experience like Bourbon street and the shenanigans that go on there. Second, there are no pressing questions about all the…items…that shops have for sale that would rival any raunchy bachelorette party. Third, our culture is becoming more and more accommodating to dogs in every scene, including the party goer scene. My husband and I aren’t as young as we used to be, and we certainly would rather spend the majority of our time sober and doing outdoorsy things like hanging out at the beach or exploring the mountainside in a random state, but for the most part, all of our vacations and outings (and at times, jobs) are dog-friendly. When we first got our Boston terrier, Newt, my husband brought him to work every day. The office was a happier place because of his presence. Even though it’s been months since he’s been at work with my husband, there are still customers that ask about the company’s mascot.
I’m not telling you to not have kids. I’m not telling you that parenting is for everyone either though. And in a world where the vast majority of individuals in our generation are struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, hectic work schedules, overpriced housing, and stress overloads, dogs are a great way to be reminded that life really isn’t so bad. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Naps are good for everyone. Money is better spent doing things with those you love making memories you’ll never forget. And life is so much sweeter with a dog at your side.