Bet you didn’t know that I have another grandson, Max. Max lives with my younger daughter and her husband in Idaho. Max, however, is special. You see, Max has four legs and a tail. Max is a dog. My daughter and son-in-law are using Max as sort of a preparation for future human parenting. Max is treated and loved and disciplined and is a true member of their family just as much as any six month old would be.
I wouldn’t call our family a hard core dog lover family. We had two dogs while our children were growing up. The dogs were considered friends, companions, playmates, but were still dogs. I realize that many people treat their pets as another member of their family in all regards. But that just wasn’t our way. We held a distinction between pets and people. So I was surprised when my daughter and son-in-law decided to parent their puppy. They talk to him like they would a baby and have outfitted him like you would a baby complete with clothes, food, toys, and bed. They cater to his every whim and include him in on everything including outings and Christmas cards. He is really their baby (for now).
So, as not to offend my daughter’s feelings by showing favoritism to Jack, I’ve decided to play along and treat Max with the same respect that his parents do. That meant sending him his own Christmas gift along with my daughter and son-in-law’s packages. The jacket he is wearing is what I gave him this year. Heck, it is cold in Idaho. And not to be out done, my other daughter (Max’s aunt?) sent him for Christmas some matching booties to keep his paws warm in the snow.
I recently visited my daughter and her family in Idaho. Now, when I go to visit Jack’s family, I always bring a little trinket for Jack. You know that little something that grammie’s do to aid and abet in the spoiling of their grandchildren. Since that is a tradition I’ve started for current and future grandchildren, I had to keep it going with my trip to Idaho. I made sure I packed a little something for Max for my arrival; gourmet dog treats that Max found to be irresistible. My present was a hit with Max and appreciated by his parents. Thus, the spoiling continues for all of my grandchildren.
Pets are highly regarded in our society. They aren’t just relegated to exist behind back yard fences, waiting for an occasional tousle or bone any more. They are considered active, vibrant members of families in the truest sense. So, what’s the harm in joining along when your children treat their pets as their children?
Do you find yourself in this same circumstance? How do you handle it?