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Confessions of a serial doggie stepdad

Doggie ownership is a grand thing, but coming into existing ownership as a step-person is another.


As Tommy espoused in Snatch when negotiating a purchase of a caravan, “Oh dogs. Sure. I like dags”. And who bloody wouldn’t? Now I don’t want to make this a mash note about my dog, because I can’t. I don’t have one. But, I would like to use the opportunity to highlight a forgotten subculture in the dog-people dynamic. The doggie stepdad.

Yes, while dogs have been proven smarter than chimpanzees by ze Germans, and some can learn up to one thousand of our people words, as I trumpet the horn of “hoorah for doggies” and marvel at the squeaky chew toy of proven science, know that, much like Rodney Dangerfield, I get no respect.

What am I? A bad guy?

Backstory. I am a reformed cat person. And O, yea, while I may have sinned in the past, I have since seen the yellowed light of the Lord (in the form of a yellow lab) and have since reformed my wicked cat-serfdom ways.

I’ve had three dogs in my life since my rebirth into the dog bowl of slobbered love.

Drew was a failed guide dog, with a high-IQ and a loose bowel. Bless. That turned to the second coming, Deezus, a black lab who was high on charm and complex, which has since trickled down into a Labradoodle with the intelligence of a three-year-old and a complete lack of fucks to give.

Now while I’ve loved all these dogs, I haven’t owned any of them. Two belonged to partners of mine, and one belonged to my roommates. So, at best, my dog ownership has been limited to the world of the step-dad. All the responsibility, none of the respect. Their personalities are set, as are their ways, educated by mum. I do my best to make new nicknames for them, but the awkwardness reigns supreme when I have to babytalk or discipline a dog that technically is not my own. The dogs know, as I do, with that suspicious look, not of betrayal, but more of, “who are you to cross that line? You don’t own me”.

To ingratiate ourselves into the hearts of our canine foes, we act as stepdads in the traditional sense. Trying to be the fun one, curtained by extreme discipline. While we can undercut mum’s rules by feeding under the table, or being casual with the rules on walkies, our confused misdirected approach is all in an effort to catch up. We just want to be equal partners, to pretend that our name is on the microchip too. While we may respond to strangers who ask “what’s your dog’s name?”, it is, alas, a hollow exchange.

My doggie stepdads know what’s up. For those of you playing at home, we’re the mussed types trying to avoid attention. Yes, us, the entrenched minority. The disobeyed, the producers of food and of walkies. And while they love us back, we both know it’s only until real mum/dad comes home. And then the power games begin in earnest. Although “game” would hint at some sort of fair competition with an even chance of winning, but nosomuchno.

That’s fine.

We know our place.

The bottom.

We don’t complain, nor do we gripe, and our disappointment remains muted when our commands for recall are not met. We’re cool with that. It is what it is; we just want you to know that we’re good boys too.


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