The bond between dogs and humans is unique. The long history of domesticating dogs has created an inter-species connection that is very much like the mother-baby relationship of other mammals, including humans. When we make eye contact with our dogs we experience a rush of love which is caused by an increase in oxytocin aka the ‘love hormone’. It’s not just us who experience this though. Recent studies show that the dogs also experience an increase in oxytocin when they stare at us. The effect of this hormone usually causes nurturing behaviour and plays a role in maternal bonding and trust - how sweet?!
This maternal instinct may be the reason behind the increase in self-proclaimed ‘dog mums’ of recent years. Whether it’s a mug or t-shirt with ‘No.1 dog mum’ on it or a subscription box for you to treat yourself and your dog, dog mums are getting the recognition they deserve.
To celebrate mother’s day and the wonderful owners at BorrowMyDoggy, we asked the women in our office what the bond between them and their dog means to them and whether they see themselves as a ‘dog mum’.
I’m definitely a dog mum and I do feel like Digby has given me some insight into what it would be like to have a child. My life revolves around his needs and his happiness always comes first before anything. We have a very strong bond that I believe is down to the amount of training and time I put in. He wants to please me and is always trying to figure out what he needs to do to make me happy. I know I’m his mum when he comes to me for a cuddle when he’s hurt or not feeling well, if he’s been in an uncomfortable situation he finds me for reassurance. He is constantly looking back at me on walks to make sure I'm keeping up and wants to show me everything! That’s how I know he loves me as much as I love him. We can’t be without each other!
I'm the proud mother of Baloo...Baloo the Cockapoo. From the first time I met him, when he was only 5 weeks old, I felt instant love and connection with him. As I picked him up, happy tears rolling down my eyes, I knew I wanted to protect him forever. A few weeks later he was finally home with me and we have been inseparable ever since. Baloo has brought some much happiness, love and laughter to our household and I can't imagine life without him now. We like to go for long walks together, where we explore new areas and meet new people. It makes me feel proud to be his human mum when he is running around the park playing with other dogs, happy and carefree. The love I have for him is like no other and since he has joined our family, my bedroom is full of pictures and drawings of him. Baloo has made our house a home and he is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I would say I'd rather be called her ‘hooman’ than her mum (or mom as I'm American). We definitely have a strong bond, and she can read me quite well, I also know her little ticks and idiosyncrasies. Like when she knows she's been naughty she runs to a particular spot in the house and I know the meaning of different looks whether she's feeling feisty or cuddly, though we are still on our training journey as she's only 11 months old. I'd say more than anything having her around really changes your perspective when it comes to responsibility, something depends on you and thinks of you as their world, which is daunting, but also a big part of why we get dogs, to feel like the centre of someone's world.
I probably do call myself my dog's mum, but it probably started because my mum calls herself his "Granny" and my nieces and nephews call him their "dog cousin". I've had my dog for 10 years and our bond is really strong, and he's been great support all this time, especially during lockdown. When I'm being lazy he's good at reminding me to get out and walk, he cheers me up with his loving personality and he is a terribly handsome cheeky chops!
I would call myself more Charlie's big sister than his mum, as he was my mum's dog. However, I can still be often found calling him my baby! The bond between me and Charlie is very strong, we are almost never apart, he is like my little shadow following me around the house. I feel like I can usually tell what he is thinking, and we communicate with each other really well, even though he can't speak! He is such a happy and loving spirit to have at my side, he keeps me company and he has also been a huge help to me with my mental health over the years.
Of course, we couldn’t forget about the part-time dog mum’s. The ones who borrow a dog from BorrowMyDoggy and give them love and attention before returning them to their owners.
I would say I am more of a Dog-auntie than a Dog-mum to Yoshi. I think this is because I love to spoil him, shower him in cuddles and really make a fuss over him! I met Yoshi when he was just a puppy, and have been borrowing him consistently for over a year, so the bond that has grown between us is very strong. Seeing him and spending time with him is such a treat for me and is often the highlight of my week! I’ve watched him grow into a beautiful dog, and have been there to cheer him on, on the sidelines. I’m there when his owners need a helping hand - they know they can trust me to look after him and provide him with the care he needs. Yoshi absolutely loves to spend the day with me - I know because he just can’t contain his excitement when I come to pick him up! With this in mind, I would definitely say my role in Yoshi’s life is Dog-Mum 2.0 or Dog Auntie. We have a special bond that’s like family.
Whether you are a dog mum, auntie or grandma, it all comes down to the simple fact that dogs are very lovable and we want to protect them. We talk to them like they’re part of the family, we worry about them when we’re apart. We tell our friends about them and we’re proud of them when they behave well or learn a new trick. Best of all, they need us as much as we need them. We receive love and affection in return for the hard work of training, which makes it all worth it.
They may not be able to send you a card today but you can still celebrate being a dog mum and spend time with your pup knowing they feel the same as you do when you gaze into each other’s eyes. Happy Mother’s Day fellow dog mums!