Riding Herd

No Kiddin’.

More and more newly married couples are delaying the start of a family, are having fewer children, or are having none at all. And I think I know why: they are getting a dog instead. People are adopting pit bulls from shelters rather than kids from Romania.

There are many advantages to choosing a Cocker Spaniel over a kid. They don’t get an allowance, eat the same food every day and they don’t grow out of their shoes every six months. There’s no braces or acne medicine to buy, they don’t carry credit cards and they don’t go to college. And although they may chase cars, they don’t drive them!

Dogs don’t play video games, they are eager to play with you any time you want, and when you come home from work they’ll rush to greet you. When’s the last time your kids did that? Dogs are patient, faithful, devoted, reliable and dependable. Have you EVER used any of those words to describe your teenager? About their only bad habit is that they bite, but kids do that too, and unlike a kid, we’ve never known a dog to jump bail.

We haven’t even discussed the financial and emotional damage that pregnancy can put on a young marriage. If you have a dog instead of a child there will be no morning sickness, the wife’s stomach won’t balloon to the size of a basketball, and she won’t have to wear specially designed clothes that are not the sexiest we’ve seen. On a related matter, the husband won’t have to live like a celibate monk for an extended period.

Even though they don’t talk (another plus) communicating with a dog is much easier than talking to a child. Dogs take criticism without sulking, never say the word “awesome” and they let you know that happiness is possible by wagging their tails. And canines don’t succumb to peer pressure by saying, “But everyone at obedience school has one.”

Unlike your teenagers, dogs will load easy in the back of the truck and will always want to go with you. Dogs are easier to travel with on an airplane because you can check them as baggage. Do that with a child next time you fly and you’ll be arrested. And you don’t have to drop your dog off three blocks away from doggie day care because it doesn’t want to be seen in the car with someone as uncool as you evidently are.

Having no opposable thumbs or Internet connection, dogs can’t text and they’ll love you no matter how many possessions you have. In fact, if you are a little short in that department dogs will actually bring you other people’s stuff.

Even though we all love our dogs dearly, they are less demanding emotionally than kids. When they come home after being out all night you’ll hug and kiss them as opposed to grounding them for two weeks. One of the best things about dogs is you can teach them tricks to impress your friends. Unlike kids, they’ll speak, sit, and stay when you tell them. They don’t do drugs and although they may take a drink out of the toilet now and then, they don’t drink alcohol. When dogs do something wrong you can jerk their leash, and if they join a gang and terrorize the neighborhood you can lock them in a kennel. If they misbehave because you’re a bad parent you can send them to obedience school. (Hey, maybe we should have obedience schools for kids! Oh, wait a minute, we already do: they’re called Juvenile Hall.)

Perhaps the best thing about dogs is you can have them fixed. Then you don’t have to worry if they come home with some tattooed rebel with a nostril ring and a tongue stud. And if you make a mistake and don’t have your dog fixed there is less paperwork involved in having your dog’s offspring adopted than those of your teenage daughter. If you don’t like your dog you can sell it and if it is terminally ill you can have it mercifully put to sleep. Vet bills are usually cheaper, too, than those from Doctors and hospitals.

Finally, with more professional dog breeding going on there are fewer and fewer mutts roaming the streets, which means that your dog probably has better bred parents than your kid ever will.