Raising a baby is hard. At least that’s the word on the street. “It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love!” exclaim well-meaning jerks to the faces of expecting parents who weren’t soliciting opinions. But these same yahoos would never offer such an ominous and unhinged prophecy to a couple adopting a puppy. Here’s the thing, though — when it comes to raising cute, helpless and needy creatures, raising a puppy is way harder than raising a baby.
Go ahead and call that a preposterous claim. I will assume you have not raised either a baby or a puppy in recent memory. I mean, I get why the myth that babies are harder to raise than puppies might persist. Babies, after all, are demonstrably more helpless than puppies. Seems like that should be harder, doesn’t it? It’s not. Sure, left to its own devices, a puppy would likely figure out how to scrounge in the world and thrive off scraps as a stray dog. I’ve seen Lady and the Tramp enough times to know that as long as a pup can befriend an Italian restaurateur, life’s pretty much a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.
But that exactly why life is so hard for those raising the pup. New puppy owners live in a world of chaos. Puppies essentially need to have their wild Tramp-ish instincts trained out of them so they don’t turn into wild opportunistic beasties that would bite you as soon as look at you. Puppies need constant play, tummy rubs, ear sniffing and brushing. Puppies require adequate crate time, walkies and baths.
A new puppy will destroy your house if unchecked. They will chew up your furniture and destroy your Ugg boots with their razor-sharp puppy teeth. They will knock over the trash to munch on coffee grounds and used feminine hygiene products. If left unchecked, or not properly attended to, they will poop and pee pretty much anywhere.
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And because puppies basically live on the razor’s edge between feral alley beast and fluffy family companion, they need to be trained as early as possible. Pups need to be socialized and taught to sit, stay and to not bite other creatures with a pulse. The whole process can leave puppy parents exhausted, cranky and questioning their decisions.
Sound familiar? Yeah, because that’s what everyone says about raising a baby. But compared to the literal shit show that is bringing a puppy into your home, raising a newborn is pretty relaxed.
Human babies are born helpless. They kind of have to be born helpless. If they stayed in the womb until they were developed enough to scrounge for scraps, it would be, well, horrifying, honestly. And that’s why infancy is often referred to as “the fourth trimester.” Newborns are essentially still cooking.
While you’d think that helplessness would make it harder to raise a baby than a puppy, the opposite is true. That helplessness is exactly what makes babies so comparatively easy to raise. The job isn’t, in the grand scheme of things, as hard as people would have you believe.
For starters, babies are immobile. New parents never have to worry the newborn is somewhere chewing a hole in the wall. They pretty much stay in the place you left them the last time you decided you were tired of carrying them around. Sure, that means you have to be thoughtful about where you put them down, but in all honesty, as long as you’re not putting them in a literal tree top cradle, you’re probably good.
Also, new babies, unlike new puppies don’t have teeth. They’re not going to be shredding their swaddle blanket in the middle of the night because they’re bored. They won’t destroy your New Balance because they smell like delicious feet. That said, their potential to rough up a mother’s nipple should not be discounted.
Also, babies poop in diapers that are attached to their bodies. That’s way better than a puppy pooping on the floor. Because as gross as changing baby diapers are, at least you aren’t going to step in baby poop while you’re drowsily shuffling your way to the kitchen for some coffee. As stinky as diapers can get, you’re not going to have to get on your knees in your bathrobe to get the poop out of the carpet pile before you’ve even had a chance to check your social media feeds. And a peed-in diaper is a thousand times more manageable than splashing into a cold puddle of puppy urine.
When you get right down to it, when you bring your baby home, the largest concerns for typical full-term newborns are that they eat and rest. What’s so hard? You respond to their cues. You pick them up when they cry, feed them when they’re hungry and change them when they’re soiled.
Parents of newborns don’t have to play ball or tug o’ war with their kid. There’s no need to take infants outside for walks. Babies don’t require any special training. There’s no discipline for babies and no need to socialize them. Heck, you don’t even really have to wash them that often.
In fact, the hardest thing about raising a baby is the constant dread parents carry that they are going to screw it up. That feeling comes from the fact that they’ve been told over and over again by thoughtless dopes in their social circle that it’s going to be … so difficult.
That’s not the kind of stress new parents need when entering parenthood. Because believe me, there’s plenty of times after babyhood when the stress is completely warranted. It’s best to save your energy until then and just enjoy those first easy weeks.
And if some dummy wants to ask how you’re coping with the hardship of new parenthood, you can just look them in the eye and say, “At least I’m not raising a puppy.”