Mother’s Day is not the easiest of holidays for me. I have no human children and have never been called “mom.” No one has ever said to me, “Happy Mother’s Day mom, I love you!”But, can we be mothers to species other than humans?
I am the single provider for two dogs, Sanchez and Gina. But, I usually think of them as my companion animals, not my children, even though others may see me as a crazy pet parent, with my children being of the furry sort.
My 85-year-old mother is 3,000 miles away. I am very grateful that she is in good health. And, even though my dogs are not my children, I am very happy to be spending Mother’s Day with them. Whether I take them for a hike, drive them to the beach, or they sit by my side at an outdoor cafe, they are still my full responsibility.
I pride myself with being a very conscientious care-taker for them, providing a very healthy diet, plenty of exercise, daily reward-based dog training, environmental enrichment, a stress-free home environment, participation in dog sports, playtime, and an infinite amount of love. They won’t ever graduate from high school, leave for college and produce offspring. But, when I adopted them, I promised them a forever home. They get room and board with medical and dental for life. I am their provider, care-taker, training partner, agility partner, canine freestyle partner, and human snuggler, even if I am not their mom.
A study in New Scientist reported that pet dogs rival humans for emotional satisfaction. After playing with their pets, dog owners experienced a burst in a hormone linked to infant care. I honestly have had more experience playing with puppies than taking care of infants, so I can’t compare. But, I do know that my engagement and relationship with my dogs is extremely emotionally satisfying and bonding. It’s not surprising to me that Dr. Rollin McCarty, Director of Research at the Institute of HeartMath, conducted an experiment and found that heart-rhythm entrainment, or synchronization, occurs between people and their dogs.
There are 75.1 million children in the United States. Stats.gov projects that number will increase to over 100 million by the year 2050. At the end of 2009, The Humane Society reported there were 77.5 million owned dogs in the U.S. and 93.6 million cats. The pet over-population problem is out of control.
So, this Mother’s Day, I’m going to enjoy being a mom, if only for a day. I’m not going to feel guilty raising good canine citizens instead of good children. I’m going to be proud of my choice to not add to the human over-population and remind myself that I am helping the pet over-population.