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What do you think of people who refer to their pets as their children?

45 Comments

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Who cares as long as they're happy and the pets are not mistreated. We had neighbors who were unable to have children, and their dogs helped fill that void.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

I can understand people referring to pets as part of their family, but calling them children seems strange to me. I know one Japanese woman who has a son and a "daughter" - the daughter being a cat. When people ask her how many children she and her husband have, I have actually heard her say two. She actually calls the cat her daughter.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

In the North East of England people refer to their close ones including children as "Pet". Just thought I'd mention that.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

To some personifying animals is just a matter of semantics but in Japan dog owners think a dog is like a child and that's alright. On the other hand some people who see their pets as children are considered guilty of violating the prime directive of real parenting. But that seems a bit extreme to me. In the end if you truly do love your dog who cares.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Creepy. I'm am quite fond of dogs, but referring to one (and treating it) as one's child crosses a line.

I once lived next door to a very self-righteous, abrasive woman in the U.S. who treated her ankle-biter as if it were a human child, scolding/reasoning with the dog, and even wiping its rear end after it had done its duty.

The woman had never had children, so I am guessing that to her the pet was a surrogate in place of a child — the woman's maternal instincts run amok.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Creepy. I'm am quite fond of dogs, but referring to one (and treating it) as one's child crosses a line.

Crosses what line? I think it's weird myself, but if someone wants to do it, they can go ahead.

The woman had never had children, so I am guessing that to her the pet was a surrogate in place of a child — the woman's maternal instincts run amok.

If it made her happy, what's the problem?

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Crosses what line? I think it's weird myself, but if someone wants to do it, they can go ahead.

@Strangerland

Crosses the line clearly into weird/creepy territory. But I fully agree with you, if someone wants to do it that's their prerogative.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Crosses the line clearly into weird/creepy territory.

Ahh, yeah, I agree with that.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I don't, because I've never actually met anyone who does this.

If I did, I think I would mentally say, "That's odd" and move on with my life. We all know that animals do not have human psychology, but human psychology also pushes us to see human-like psychology in everything. So some people are going to unintentionally slip up, and it's not worth wasting processor cycles.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I remember watching a video about a female lion who took on a small gazelle as her "child." She cared for it and protected it as her own, until one day a male lion killed it while she was looking for food.

The maternal instinct can be very powerful, so I suppose that explains some of those who see animals as their children. I think it suggests an emotional conflict or trauma in the person who does it, but if it helps them cope, why not?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

As long as it doesn't harm anyone I don't see what's wrong with it... then again, there have been a few times over my years in Japan where some snobby woman pushed her dog stroller on to a crowded train, inconveniencing those around her.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

An acquaintance of mine has 5 dogs and 5 cats. She takes care of them like her children (she has none). She signs all greeting cards with all the pets' names, and hers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Before my wife and I had a kid, our dog was basically our baby. They are like family members and if you don`t have kids it becomes natural to focus parent-like affections on them. There is nothing strange at all about it.

Also, to everyone on here judging such people and saying they are crossing a line into creepiness, I should mention that nothing is colder or more hurtful than intimating to people who feel that way towards their pet (some of whom may be reading this) that they are acting weird. I have seen people reduced to tears by other people looking down on them for loving their pets with comments like "well, its not really your child though" and things like that.

I am guessing this is unintentional, but comments like that really hurt people.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I know a woman whose dog wears a Donald duck outfit...complete with the hat.

it harms nobody so whatever gets you through life imo.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I find it annoying. Not sure if it is the act itself or just that in my experience the people who tend to do it happen to be annoying.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The trouble is, if you treat a dog as a human infant it grows up totally screwed up, but somehow this doesn't seem to matter to this "parent", who fails to notice this in his/her need to further this delusion. It is not love at all. Love involves empathy and that involves understanding the dog as a dog, not force fit it into being a child. I would say it is closer to cruelty, especially the more "kawaii" the deluded parent tries to make the dog. In fact they are creating an unhinged monster.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When we got our first dog as a family, we used to joke that we now had the proverbial perfect family, in Japanese, 一姫、二太郎, to which we added 三ワン - a daughter first, then a son, then a dog. We sometimes referred to the dog as 次男(second son), usually in the context of 'he's more obedient than our first son, and doesn't answer back'.

But it was all tongue in cheek; we never treated the dog (have never treated any animal) as a human. A dog is a dog, and is happiest being treated as a dog. If you love your dog, make him happy by giving him what a dog needs. if you don't love your dog...give him to someone who will.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I don't care what people want to do with their lives as long as it is harmless to others. Oh, I do care if their dog is wearing a Kyojin jersey. That is foul! I only approve Hanshin jerseys on dogs.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Creepy. I'm am quite fond of dogs, but referring to one (and treating it) as one's child crosses a line. I once lived next door to a very self-righteous, abrasive woman in the U.S. who treated her ankle-biter as if it were a human child, scolding/reasoning with the dog, and even wiping its rear end after it had done its duty.

I agree. It's strange and crosses the line of what most well-adjusted people would consider normal treatment of pets. It's an animal, not a human being. No matter how much you're fond of it, it still won't transform into or take the place of a child.

The woman had never had children, so I am guessing that to her the pet was a surrogate in place of a child — the woman's maternal instincts run amok.

That explains her actions. She never once thought of possibly adopting a child, i.e. a real human?

if you treat a dog as a human infant it grows up totally screwed up, but somehow this doesn't seem to matter to this "parent", who fails to notice this in his/her need to further this delusion. It is not love at all. Love involves empathy and that involves understanding the dog as a dog, not force fit it into being a child.

You hit the nail on the head. It is selfish and cruel on the owner's part to force on their pets something that they're not just to fulfill their delusions or emotional void. Animals, while still animals, have emotions, too, as owners should be fully aware. Forcing them to play or be something they're not is just insensitive and cruel.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It doesn't seem to bother the pets or the 'parents', and indeed fulfills a reciprocal need. Why should the rest of us care?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You hit the nail on the head. It is selfish and cruel on the owner's part to force on their pets something that they're not just to fulfill their delusions or emotional void. Animals, while still animals, have emotions, too, as owners should be fully aware. Forcing them to play or be something they're not is just insensitive and cruel.

Turbostat replied appropriately to this:

It doesn't seem to bother the pets or the 'parents', and indeed fulfills a reciprocal need. Why should the rest of us care?

Treating an animal with love and affection is not going to hurt the animal, even if it's a little weird.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Treating an animal with love and affection is not going to hurt the animal, even if it's a little weird.

Having a pet that you don't treat with love and affection is weird. What's the point of having a pet, if you're not going to be nice to it?

Treating an animal with love and affection is not the same as treating it as human child.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Then there are the other sort of people that treat their kids like dogs. I know which I prefer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If my idea is to ply my child with alcohol because she likes it and i believe that love is merely to give in to her likes i might end up creating an alcoholic. Dogs love to eat too and some become so obese they cannot walk because their owner "love" them so much they give in to their begs and whines. Those with distorted notions of love and affection are abusers. You must have empathy for the object of your affection as it truly is, not as you want it to be, nor to satisfy your own insecure cravings. Specifically, dogs indulged as children are apt to become snappy because they begin to truly believe in their own position as special and dominant. And dominant dogs discipline by nipping. Next, the deluded "parent" cannot control its barking or its lungeing and biting.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Dogs love to eat too and some become so obese they cannot walk because their owner "love" them so much they give in to their begs and whines.

That's a different issue to the one being discussed.

As are your other points. You are describing bad pet ownership, which isn't a given when someone considers their pet to be like a child.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If that's what they want, why not?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Then there are the other sort of people that treat their kids like dogs.

Then there are some who treat their dogs like shit.

Actually found one last week. An older house along the sidewalk was getting, I'd say, at least a 30 to $40,000 dollar remodeling job done. I stopped for a closer look as no workers were around due to the Typhoon. I look down and there's a sandy brown Lab I'd guess, 1 foot of rope because it was all twisted, lying halfway on a wooden pallet and hallway in the mud, no water, no food, no one home, and couldn't reach his dog house. I went to local store and bought some sausage and beef jerky and dropped it for him. Then I started to get really steamed cuz I realized how salty the meat was and he had no water. I went back and filled up a bucket of water for him. I approached carefully to see his reaction and he just started to wage his tail and lick my hand(at this point my heart was breaking). His nose felt like a crouton. Went home, had a screwdriver to call down, which didn't work. I was determined to steal this dog and at least give it a proper bath. Went back to cut him loose but the home owner was outside. I calmed myself, smiled, and let him know how pissed I was without raising my voice. It was a hard day.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pity? Sympathy?

Not because i think there's a problem with seeing pets as children. I loved my dog dearly (RIP). But because just the fact that they refer to their pets as children implies to me that they wanted children but couldn't (this doesn't apply to those who have kids and still call their pets their kids I guess).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, there may be some tangential good from treating one thing as another thing, even a living being, but inappropriate labelling and defining - in this case a dog as a child - is very likely to lead to inappropriate behaviour and outcomes, as described. So, I dispute that i have a problem of understanding or logic and you are not the arbiter of either. Perhaps you have never had a dog nor empathy for another living being.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Ahhh.. the era of social media, where people only can talk in absolutes... the truly digital era.

I love my dog, I refer to him as "my kid", I try not to spoil him so he eats healthy a good and what is proper to a dog, medical exams and even he has an insurance (health). So yes I see him as my kid... I love when he explodes of happiness when I get back from work, every day.

But unfortunately, many just go to the extreme (some even to aberration levels) with this.... on both sides.

What is wrong with people these days... is it either absolute black of absolute white... nothing in between.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

We call our cats "our girls", even though we also have two children. I don't call them my children, but it wouldn't be a far stretch given how important they are to our little family. I most certainly consider them family members.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One of the reasons I will never adopt a pet is because I cannot imagine the responsiblity of taking one on and not treating it like a child. I could certainly never be so cavalier as to say "oh well, if it doesn't work out, I'll just give it away." Would I do that to an adopted human child? Nope.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What do you think of people who refer to their pets as their children?

OK if the pets eventually become taxpayers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's mainly childless couples who try to make up for it by referring to them as kids.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It doesn't seem to bother the pets or the 'parents', and indeed fulfills a reciprocal need. Why should the rest of us care?

I don't know how you know the animal's feelings. Have you ever sat down and had a proper conversation with a pet?

Treating an animal with love and affection is not the same as treating it as human child.

Exactly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I could certainly never be so cavalier as to say "oh well, if it doesn't work out, I'll just give it away."

I should hope not. But if you found yourself (for whatever reason, none of us can read tomorrow) unable to care properly for the pet, which would be the better course of action - being so cavalier as to shove the pet in a cage/outdoors and leaving it to its own devices, or putting it in the hands of someone who can and is willing to care for it and make sure that it is happy? There are plenty of mothers of human infants who, unable to provide a home themselves, do what's best for the child and give it up for adoption. Letting a child/pet go doesn't always mean you're indifferent or don't care about the child's/pet's welfare. Far from it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bit odd, not that keen on people who use baby sized prams to bring their dogs on the train.

Have had pets throughout the years, they are great, good companions and after all humans have created many species.. but humans they are not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think it is cute how they treat their dogs. They are dressed better than me with designer clothes. Kawaiii

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think they are being as childish as they pretend their pets to be.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Lonely

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Referring to pets as children becomes strange when the pets are old and nearing the end of their natural lives. I'm in that situation with a dog and a cat. I've started calling our cat Grandma as she seems to have assumed the role. (Our dog is still at the old Auntie stage.) My view is that pets are family members, and like kids and cousins can infuriate, but we owe them our love.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We had many species, but when they became sick or aged we gave them the easiest farewell.

Yes many were pets and familie members, granted hard to bond with Tarantula, Turtles, Snakes, etc. But I still think there was some form of connection.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It crosses no line and is perfectly normal.

animals have the same feelings as humans; they feel love, hate, sadness, joy, and protectiveness towards their owners. They show compassion and outrage.

In many ways, they are more human than many people walking the face of this earth.

I am assuming that the pets are mammals. Calling your pet tarantula your daughter would be a bit out there

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We had this neighbor, a woman, who had 2 male dogs and referred to them as my boys. The problem was that she also had 3 sons, so the neighbors weren't sure who she was talking about whenever she talked about her boys.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think people who do this are pitiful, tedious and irksome. They get on my nerves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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