Raise Kids, Not Dogs Says Pope

Pope Francis had a message for married couples on Monday: the effort put into raising four-legged friends would be better spent raising children.

Monday Mass for Pope Francis has an unexpected takeaway this week as the Pope encouraged married couples to put focus on raising babies over “fur-babies.”

While dog ownership may not seem like a matter for the Pope, it’s actually quite a relevant topic nowadays as more and more married couples find their lives fulfilled by their careers, activities, their marital relationship and the companionship of their dogs or cats.  With more focus on themselves and the feeling of having something to care for, they are in less of a rush to get busy raising babies or even have babies at all.

Huggs and the Pope

“This culture of well-being from 10 years ago convinced us: It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free … it might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it?” the Pope asks the 15 married couples he spoke to in Monday Mass. He also included a warning that “in the end this (type of) marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

As a newly married, 20 (pushing 30)-something, my answer to the pope is yes- I’ve totally seen it. I actually have this conversation with my husband almost weekly as another friend tells us they are happy with their lives and their pets and really see no reason to have a kid now or maybe ever.

It is not uncommon to hear people calling pets “fur-babies,” or to see folks pushing their dogs in strollers, buying them clothing and bringing them into establishments where dogs are not typically allowed, stating they could never leave their dog’s at home or alone.  Some people take this further being offended when their dogs aren’t given the same rights and respect as a human baby.

This staged video shows mock outrage between pet parents and people parents over the Pope’s comments. While this video is a parody, some of the feelings from both sides are certainly things I’ve heard.

As a lover of a 7-year-old dog who enjoys sweaters and who has been with me through all kinds of things, I understand the importance of having an animal in my life and Huggs means the world to me, but does that mean I hold him in higher regard than a child?  For me, the answer is no. Even as an auntie if you told me we were in some twisted scenario where I had to choose between my beloved Mr. Huggs and my niece or nephew- my answer would always be the same and I think Huggs would understand.  Because that’s what’s amazing about dogs, they always seem to understand the choices we make even if they don’t benefit from them.   

My mother always asks people who say “my dog is my child,” this one question: Would you give your life for your dog?

I make no opinion on what people do in their own lives, I believe you should bring kids into this world or adopt them when and if you are ready to do so and it’s no one’s decision but yours. If you want to give your dog his own room and take him for play dates and treat him like a child that’s fine too. But the conversation certainly brings up some interesting questions.

Is there a line on what animals can or should bring to our lives? And is there a line on what we should give or do for our animals? How does animal life compare to that of a human? Would you give your life for your pet? What do you think of the Pope’s comments?

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