grow up in good company (with balance)

Dogs and cats are not children, but many choose them for company and behave towards them as if they were children. Still, a balance point can be reached, just do not exaggerate certain emotions.

By Maria Teresa Antognazza in collaboration with veterinarian Sonia Memmi at the “I Ronchi” clinic in Gallarate (Varese)

One Sunday afternoon, mom and dad are out for a walk with their baby, a little frugoletto
7 months, which sleeps blissfully. And on a leash, they each have a beautiful dog: one, big, quite bubbly, the other more peaceful and cooperative. Beautiful busy family!
But how are the two four-legged friends doing with the newborn?

“The dogs came before our son,” explains the father, “and to us they were like an inlet into the couple’s life. Now that Simone is here, he has the first place in our care, but the two dogs remain an integral part of the family and have a very “loving” relationship with the little one ».

Even in the family of Michela and Eugenio, 30 years of marriage, the dog arrived before the two daughters, who are now 22 and 17 years old.

“We got married very young,” says the mother, “and we had decided to have fun before we had children; so we took a dog with us, because we could take him anywhere, or let him stay at our parents’ house.

With the arrival of the girls, the balance has changed and they are definitely our priority, but the dog has always been a part of the family. Our daughters adore him and have played with him throughout their childhood. “

It caused great astonishment the remark of Pope Francis (and it was not the first time this happened) that, given the very serious demographic decline during the message of the Feast of the Holy Trinity, he said: “Many couples have at most one child, but they have two dogs or two cats. Dogs and cats take the place of children, it’s fun, but it’s the truth ».


A place of honor

“In recent years, domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, have taken a prominent place in the various family contexts,” explains doctor Sonia Memmi, from the “I Ronchi” veterinary clinic in Gallarate (Varese).

“I have personally witnessed an increase in the purchase of pets that have boomed with the pandemic. For many, pets are now official members of the family and as such enjoy all the ‘privileges’ and attention reserved for children, peers and husbands. and in some cases even more.

On them many owners vent their deepest feelings and worries; they often have a privileged place at home, they sleep on the bed, eat at the table; the holidays are organized according to the animals, and significant sums can be spent on the treatments ».

Two young men over thirty who were to get married told about their projects that they wanted a dog to test their coexistence:

“Before we got married and got #s, we wanted to test our ability to take care of something important together, so we took Bob.”

In short, the four-legged friend was welcomed as a sort of “dress rehearsal” of the domestic routine and parenting obligation!

My poodle

But what happens when you have to choose between the animal and the arrival of a child? “The arrival of children in a family where there are already animals,” explains the veterinarian, “is generally welcomed with attempts, sometimes even a little clumsy, to involve the pet in all respects in relation to the newborn, in order to avoid entry of “jealousy” on the part of the animal and to make children grow in the awareness of the importance of respecting the other, even if it is only one animal ».


Dogs and cats are not children, but many choose them for company and behave towards them as if they were children. Sometimes, says Sonia, “the animal can really represent a drain for anxiety, fear and worries, it can calm down in a hard working day”.

Lucrezia, who is not married and lives with her elderly mother, treats her poodle with great love: “He sleeps on the bed with me, and when I talk to him, I define myself as his ‘mother’. It’s a great business for us, even though it requires a lot of care and money for maintenance ».
“In my years of working in the sector,” says the vet, “sometimes when I face a disease in their pet, I have heard someone honestly declare, ‘What I do for him, I have not even done for mine. children.
In these cases, we are faced with an unbalanced relationship, which it is not possible to distance oneself from, actively “frees” oneself from the bond, which should instead happen naturally when a child leaves the house ».

However, there is a balance point, and the dog’s presence can be an enrichment. Maria and Massimo, for example, on the eighteenth birthday of their third child, welcomed Aslan, an abandoned bitch, to “train” their son to take concrete responsibility, and in fact, it was an important element in the boy’s growth.


Leave a Comment