When I am King...
Dogs will train parents.
People pondering parenthood will often get a dog first as part of easing into eventually having kids. Through raising a dog they can learn how to care for another living being, get used to the responsibility of feeding someone regularly, and adjust to not forgetting about them when they go on vacation.
There is merit in this approach, but dog ownership doesn’t go far enough. We need to add some critical elements to owning a dog to make it begin to cover the territory.
When I am King, everyone would be required to own dogs, with these additional requirements:
Own several dogs: Even if you plan to have only one child, things happen and pretty soon there are several running around in the house. Or even if you do only have one, they tend to attract other kids like flies on meat. You’ll need to make sure your system can handle the chaos of more than one running around in the house constantly.
Train your dog: Most owners put their dogs through obedience school, but once/week for 2 months doesn’t begin to cover the education responsibility of a parent. You should enroll your dog in enough classes so that they are in school several hours each day. Do this for at least twelve years or their entire lives, whichever comes first.
Use diapers: With countless hours in obedience class, your dog will be house-trained and won’t need the diapers. But you will. Dealing with messy diapers is one of the joys of parenthood and should be a part of any parent training regimen. Some children wear diapers for several years, but feel free to limit your dog-diaper training period to just 2 years; pretend your dog-child is advanced.
Take pictures: Wear our your camera and video camera taking pictures and movies of your dog. And most importantly, send updated pictures to relatives constantly. Kids change in interesting ways as they grow up, and you must pretend your dog does too and that your friends and relatives care.
Tend to the sick: Several nights a year, spend a sleepless night caring for your sick dog: take his temperature (you’ll want to use the rectal thermometer to avoid his teeth), give him medicine, and comfort him. Of course, he won’t actually be sick, because dogs generally aren’t. But remember, this is your surrogate child. Pretend.
Enroll them in activities: Playing in the yard and sleeping in the house is not enough for your dog; if that’s all our children did, we would be a lazy and complacent society. No, you must enroll your dog in several activities: sports, music, art, dance, and anything else that’s available. Preferably you should have them in at least two activities at a time, so that you are in constant conflict over performance times (“How do I get him to the recital at 3 when his soccer game doesn’t end until 3:30?”). It is also key to tell people that you don’t want to overschedule your dog, that it’s so important that he be given the opportunity to simply play … and then go ahead and overschedule him because that’s what everyone else is doing. Ideally, many of the activities will involve travel on the weekends, so that your family can enjoy the experience of spending weekends driving the dog around to games that they won’t win and won’t remember.
Kick them out: When a dog is 21, or 3 in dog years, lock them out of the house with kind words like, “Get a job!” It is natural for a parent to expect their children to care for themselves at this age.
Let them back in: Of course, it is also natural to be completely wrong, so you should let your dog back in after a few minutes and resign yourself to taking care of the mutt forever.