I have never thought of my dogs and cats and other animals, both pets and farm, to be my children.
It just wasn’t what they were to me.
That does not mean that they aren’t important to me. That does not mean that I don’t love them dearly.
But they are not my children.
Now I do have siblings that see their dogs and/or cats as their children. It was never strange to me that this could be. We each need different things as we are all different people. The reasons for why some of my siblings look at their pets and think, ‘this is my child,’ just as there are reasons where I don’t.
What I do see when I look at my cat, or my dogs is a companion that is a part of my family, but not my child. They are dearly loved and I am ever grateful for the years that we travel through life together. There have been times when they were watching over and taking care of me and just as many times where I was taking care of them. Both instances were also hand in hand with us having our own lives separate though we do take time to just sit and be with one another.
For are those not things that companions have with one another?
I had a friend ask me once if I understood why others would look at their pets and think ‘children.’ I answered that I understood in a way. One of my siblings and his wife are unable to have children. They have two little dogs and three cats and are parents to those five little furballs. These are the grandchildren they show to my mother when she goes to visit and these are the grandchildren that my mom greets and loves just the same.
I have a sister that has two fine human boys as well as several other children in the form of a little dog and several cats. She loves them all just as much as the others. She mourns when some of her children reach the ends of their natural life long before she does, but that pain doesn’t stop her from loving them just the same.
I have another sister who is single with no human children, but has an aging cat that she took in as her child when the cat was already half-way through the cat’s natural lifespan. For a short time we had that cat with us at the last house when my sister was staying at a place that didn’t allow pets. Said sister rejoiced when she got a new apartment because it meant she could live with her little daughter again.
Again, I have another sister (yes, my parents had eight kids, there’s a ton of us) who does not view her pets as children. She still loves them and mourns them when they reach the ends of their lives. She has always been the quickest of my siblings to bring home dogs and cats because those animals actually followed her home of their own free will. They are still considered members of her family, but they are not her children.
Family and friends come in all shapes and sizes and species. They come at different times in our lives. Many come as complete surprises while others were carefully planned, but they come all the same. But just as humans need different things at different times, the same is true of dogs and cats.
Each being on this planet is different, even, or maybe especially, those that are of the same species.
There are, after all, just as many stories out there about animals adopting orphaned young from a completely different species. (In fact, I have a pair of ducks that hatched and raised a pair of chickens who follow them everywhere, as well as a pair of dogs that have three young, two of which are cats while the third is their own actual blood offspring.)
I’d say to care for is to bestow love. Whether we call it a child or not is dependent on perspective but it’s love and worth sharing with children of the Earth.