In Defense of “Dog Moms”

It happens to most moms at some point in their lives. It happened to me when I was pregnant with my first child. I was nearly due, bellyaching to a friend about how difficult sleeping had become and how I would get even less sleep when the baby came. Then, she said it.

“I know what you mean- the puppy keeps me up all night!”

I fell silent. She kept talking. After a moment, I changed the subject. You don’t compare dogs to children. You just don’t.

Dogs have always been a part of my family. Spoiled, lazy, coddled, and smothered, our dogs occupy a space in our hearts which is more than a four-legged friend but less than a child.

Perhaps that’s the gist :: loving a child as your own sets your pet apart.

Now, though, we find ourselves in a back-to-the-future stage of parenthood where we simultaneously celebrate the start of an empty nest while trying not to cling too much to the smallness of our youngsters.

Enter, doggies.

For a mama who’s never experienced baby fever, my sudden and insatiable desire to mother some puppies is as typical as it is amusing. Recently, we got a dog. Then, we got another. Suddenly, I remember my old friend… comparing my kid to her dog. And, I get it.

We love. That’s part of what humans do. 

“Dog moms” are doing just that:: loving another living being. Mothering. They’re really not so bad. I’ll tell you why.

Dog Moms Sympathize

They think they know what we’re going through. We know they don’t. They show compassion, trying to grasp at that unspoken camaraderie which should-but doesn’t always-exist between parents. Maybe it seems a bit like one-upping; maybe they’re just trying to relate in the only way they know how.

Dog Moms Don’t Own Dogs

Pet owners-at least, the good ones-make sacrifices. They experience pride, have to make decisions. They worry. They plan.

Even farmers will tell say, you don’t own animals. You raise them.

I’m a mom and a dog mom. I can’t just take off on vacation. I have to make sure the kids and the pets are well taken care of. Caring for a pet can be great preparation for being a mom. I mean… maybe let’s start with taking care of a plant. But if all goes well there, caring for an animal must be the next closest thing!

Dog Moms Know Judgement

One of the most surprising things you come across when you first become a parent is how often people voice their opinions of you for no other reason than that you have a child. Your friends, your coworkers, random strangers on the street- even other moms. We all think we know better.

No matter where you are in your journey of raising children, there is probably someone waiting to tell you about their pet. A dog owner, a cat owner, someone who recently saved a pig. And someone else is there to tell them what they should do differently, just as they tell parents all the time.

Because none of us escape it… the judgement. All we can do is try hard not to pass it.

Maybe, in some ways, a “dog mom” is even better prepared for the court of motherhood than those of us who’ve forgotten what it’s like to only have a Fido. 

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Kathryn Y
Kathryn grew up in Katy during a time when catching crawfish after a storm was totally normal and you could gorge on blackberries just by walking the fields. While attending Blinn College, she developed a passion for teaching and, after graduating from University of Houston, dedicated several years of her life to working with underprivileged youth. Recently, Kathryn dove head-first into entrepreneurship by pursuing real estate and the dream career she has imagined since she was nine years old- writing! When she isn’t clicking away at her keyboard, you can find her juggling the demands of a blended family, painting in her garage, seeking out Houston’s best kept secrets, or walking the isles of her favorite store, Home Depot. Kathryn has children from her first marriage and later became a “bonus mom” when she met and married the love of her life, Victor. Between them, the couple have six children- Antonio {2000}, Jacinda and Penelope {2002}, Elisabeth {2006}, Naila {2007}, and Sebastian {2008}. Kathryn and her family love the arts, dogs, reading, baseball, boiling mudbugs, pretending to be food critics, and enjoying the great outdoors. You can keep up with Kathryn’s entrepreneurial journey at The Cut and Shooting My Shot.


  1. First of all, you don’t “raise” dogs, you OWN them. Dogs are hierarchical. They need a master, not a parent. I don’t dispute the fact that a dog is like a kid that never grows up and that is the appeal of them(along with their unconditional loyalty). But I am very suspicious of women who don’t properly train their dogs and treat them based on what they are: subordinates.

    • Hi there! I agree there’s nothing worse than an ill-behaved dog! I think raising well behaved dogs as a family member- which naturally has a hierarchy- are not mutually exclusive! Hear, hear to all of the responsible pet lovers!

  2. Everyone has their own preceptive of being a mom. There is no right or wrong in referring to yourself as a dog mom. Just becuase you had a baby grow inside you for 9 months going through that doesnt make you a bigger better person than someone who is raising a puppy as their own, training, feeding, experiencing life with them. We are their moms and owners as we are children. We are their moms and owners. Youre going to say youre going going to train and teach your child right from wrong ? Thatz the act of being an owner, your in control of them. The difference is your child will grow up, start talking to you, eventually move out at 18. Dogs are stuck with you until they pass, they dont get to talk and tell you what’s wrong so us dog moms rely on our knowledge of the dog and we are more in tune with how our dogs act becauseof the lack of words they can say to us. Dog moms do have it hard and I believe we are all equal and there shouldn’t be any talk as to who is more of a mom. Some people dont get the pleasure of having kids so youre going to tell the Dog Moms who believe this is their only chance as a mom that they arent a real mom ? Thats sad and hurtful.

  3. I agree! I’ll be damned that a ‘mother’ is to tell me that raising a dog is different. I lost sleep, I work to provide, I play with, I worry, I plan, and I teach my pup as I would to a child. When my dog was sick, I was worried. When my dog was being puppysat for his first week without me, I cried. I love my BABY. I love seeing him happy when we go to the park, on car rides, etc. He’s my baby and I’m an overly obsessed dog mom and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    When I come to bearing a child, I’m sure the feelings will be just the same considering the fact I am carrying a life inside me…for now, my fur-baby is happy with me as his mother.

  4. I just wanted to say thanks for this. As a “dog mom” who can’t have human kids, it can be really hard to constantly be judged by “real moms”.

    It’s self evident that raising puppies is very different from raising children, and people who try to raise a dog in the same way one would raise a child (or the reverse) are in for some real frustration and misery.
    But despite what many seem to think, when we say “I know what you mean, my puppy kept me up all night!” it’s because we really do want to sympathize and commiserate, and maybe even feel a tiny bit a part of the amazing journey of motherhood, even though we aren’t all privileged with children of our own.

    It’s frustrating to see women who have children invalidating the experiences of other women. Being able to have a child is a privilege that we don’t all get, and having mom bloggers passing judgments about how we can’t possibly ever relate or understand, and nothing anyone could ever do would be as challenging/meaningful/important as raising their children, well, it just sucks. I don’t mean to say that it isn’t challenging, meaningful and important, but just that it’s a big world and these women could leave a little space for others to have meaning in their lives even if they don’t have kids.

    So thanks for giving a nod to the dog-moms out there. Maybe we can’t ever know what it’s like to have human kids, but we know what it’s like to care for our pups, and that’s meaningful to us, and there’s no reason that should be a problem for other people.

  5. I am always judged by how much I love and care for my puppy. He is my baby. I did not give birth to my dog but I love him as much. I can’t tell you how many times my puppy wiped away my tears when im sad. How he makes me feel safe when im alone at night. So here’s my issue…

    Right now Im pregnant with our first baby. I am so sad about people telling me that I should stop doing what I do with my pup because Im already having a child. Like my relatives telling me that I am too much when my husband and I prepared for a lil bday celebration for my puppy who is turning 1 year old. I came from a country where people are very superstitious. I get it. I know. But I just feel very sad when they they want me to treat my puppy differently. My puppy is a family to us. He’s not just a pet. I am not just an owner but I am a dog mom. I see nothing wrong with that. Even if I have a child coming, I dont think I should stop loving my puppy. I just hate it when people say, “stop that, he’s just a dog, you’re too much”. I don’t know, he probably just a dog but he has a bigger heart that some human I know.


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