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Confessions of an Anthropomorphizing Puppy Mom

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Dogs Are People Too, I'm Sure Of It!


When I was a little girl, I never played with dolls.  

Instead, I was a huge stuffed animal fan, to the extent that at one time I had around 100 of them, and I had to have them all sleep with me at night because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving some out, and having them be lonely, or feel neglected.

 

Furry Bodies, People Feelings...

I used to build little towns for them, each stuffed animal would have a job, or a store... one might be a baker or run the post office, and they would visit each other and live their very much human, anthropomorphized stuffed animal lives.

I still have about a half dozen of them in my bedroom closet… ones that I formed deep connections to that I still can’t bear to reject, in case it hurts their little, stuffed animal feelings.

It might sound weird, admitting the above to you, but it probably gets weirder, what I’m about to say. 

I anthropomorphize EVERYTHING.   

To get started, let me just clarify what this word means…the dictionary defines it as attributing human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, animals, plants, other natural phenomena.

The Gift Of Projecting...

Now, if we’re training a dog or other animal, we’re told by the experts that Anthropomorphism is a bad thing… that dog’s don’t have the types of complex feelings that we have, that we’re not being fair by talking to them and treating them like little humans.  

We’re instructed that to make our pets happier, more confident, and better prepared to live with us humans, we actually need to stop humanizing them, and treat them like the dogs (or whatever) they are.

Well that’s logical, and I’m all for doing things to make Finny happier and better adjusted, but I am totally incapable of doing this.  

Like I said above, I give human qualities to everything. 

In some ways, it’s directly beneficial to me in just my day to day life.  

I find I buy less, as I know I’ll have a problem “rejecting” an item in future if a better replacement shows up. 

I pick up worms so they don’t get stepped on… now I don’t have to believe a worm is any more than a simple worm to think this little kindness is worthwhile, but I do think it makes me happier overall, believing I may have enabled this worm to return to his little worm family, and have a nice happy worm life.

I think Anthropomorphism is one of our great gifts as humans, and that we’d be better off if we did more of it. 

Our need to humanize (in a good sense) other things in the world enables us to appreciate them more. 

I think that it makes us better humans, in the sense of the most sincere notion of what humans and humanity should be aspiring towards, in character, belief, and act.

Believing that things, be it nature, objects, or animals have feelings also implies that they have a purpose, a value outside of our use for them and that they deserve to be here, be respected and looked after.  

I think if we see our surroundings this way, we are kinder custodians and may even get a bit of pleasure out of interacting with things that we believe are capable of loving us back.

A while ago, Marie Kondo came out with her fantastic book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up.  

The title is no exaggeration, I know many people, including myself who would eagerly agree that the book had, in fact, changed their lives.    

Maybe it’s just the joy of having an aesthetically pleasing, organized cupboard that you can find things quickly and easily in.  

Maybe it’s the tranquility of having an uncluttered space surrounding you, free from all the “I really should do something about that" thoughts.  

Or maybe the most profound aspect of the book is Marie’s belief that objects have spirits, and if we love the objects we keep, and we appreciate, thank and discard the objects we don’t love, then both we and the objects will all be happier.   

Whatever resonated with her readers most, the book was a huge success, and Pinterest and Facebook are full of KonMari references as a result of her great work.  

So perhaps I'm not alone, I'm not that weird, and perhaps I'm right in my belief that humanizing non-humans isn't a bad thing.

So basically, here I am, justifying why it’s okay to be friends with my stuff, and why my little dog Finnegan isn’t just my dog, but my child.

I’m probably a terrible dog owner… but I know I’m a fantastic dog mom. 

Our little Buster, who passed away last August was the happiest doggie around. 

He was loved, cared for, and had a long happy and healthy doggie life. 

He never lacked for cuddles, healthy treats, play time, or kind words.  

And I truly do believe he understood me, perhaps not the words, but he knew my feelings, that he felt loved, cherished and protected.

One thing Buster didn’t know though was his name.  

It's totally my fault, he was after all a genius doggie, but this gets back to my comment above about being a bad dog "owner". 

I had so many nicknames for him… Bun Bun, Bunner, Bunnykin, that it was more of my tone, and his calculated likelihood that I may have a cookie for him that determined if he came to me or not.  

If he truly was human, I could have reasoned with him, and he would have understood my exact meaning, the implications, and social convention, and he would have known he had an individual identifier name that was his and to respond to it appropriately.

But alas, as much as I either saw, or perhaps projected human characteristics on him, he wasn't human, so some things got lost in translation.

I’m sure I made other mistakes as well.  

Like all parents, we try our best, but we all make mistakes one way or the other.  

It wasn’t for lack of care or intent, but likely, my unconscious belief that little Buster was people probably didn’t help sometimes.

With Finny, I’m really trying to strike a balance between coddling my little fur baby and treating him like the independent, adventurous daring dachshund he is. 


He’s definitely my puppy-son, and we have the best conversations because unlike my husband, he always agrees with me!    

But I try to give him the things dogs need…and I try over protective mommy-ness on the back burner when I can.

We go for "smell it” walks… we may only get a couple blocks and it takes forever, but I let him smell everything he wants on those walkies.  

Other days, we go for conventional walks… he walks happily beside me at a good pace and we stop occasionally to meet another doggie or an exceptionally interesting bush.

I read dog articles… dog books… watch videos about dogs, how they work, think, where they came from.  

I’m sure Cesar would cringe at most of what goes on in my house, but I’m trying... again, it’s all about balance.  

To be honest, if I could get away with it I’d dress Finny up in little outfits every day, but I know the line between crazy dog lady and appearing relatively normal to my husband, friends, and family, so Finny is naked, except for winter walkies.

Finny knows his name… in fact, we even hired a trainer to ensure I didn’t baby him out of the most basic commands, and it’s an absolute pleasure that he can sit, stay and come when I call him.  

As expected, Finny was a star pupil, it was me that had to practice and practice, and change how I did most things.  

But we did it, both enjoyed it, and are both better off because of it, yay us!

There are a lot of things I still do, that is 100% out of my belief he’s a furry little person… I just can’t help myself.  

I tell him every day how much I love him, how precious he is to me, what a lovely little doggie he is and how proud of him I am. 

I’m sure he understands and loves me back.   

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