Babytalking to Baxter and 10 other signs you're a hopeless dog mom

There's a difference between mere dog owner and the true dog mom. The latter has blurred the boundary between dog and owner to the point where the dog now leads the pack. Now they're in charge.

Tammy Swift online column sig revised 3-16-21.jpg
Tammy Swift, Forum columnist.

I know you’re out there.

I see you, as you lavish embarrassing amounts of attention on the family hound. There you are, scratching Scruffles’ chin and cooing to him as if he is the world’s most adorable and sensitive human baby.

And there you go, carrying that 65-pound dog over a puddle because you can’t bear the thought of his paws getting wet and cold.

I see you. You are dog moms and dads, for whom the family woofster is more than mere canine.

I know you, because I am one too.


When you think about it, the majority of dog owners really are just willing underlings in their pup’s fiefdoms. How else can we explain a world in which humans trail behind their dogs, carrying their waste in little bags as if banished to some sort of perverse form of eternal serfdom?

Even so, there is a division between the mere dog owner and the true dog mom or dog dad. The latter has blurred the boundary between dog and owner to the point where the dog is now leading the pack. They have seen our weakness and now they are in charge. It's enough to make Cesar Millan cringe.

So how do you know you’re a true dog mom? Let’s see if any of the following scenarios might sound familiar.

You might be a dog mom if:

  • You are not above doing disgusting things to keep your mutt comfortable and happy, such as rubbing $45-a-tube ointment on his rear end, cleaning up whatever he regurgitates or manually scraping the crusties from the corner of his eyes. 
  • You don’t mind if he licks your face, even though you've witnessed him chewing on a rancid skunk carcass and indiscriminately select snacks from the cat’s litterbox.
  • You spend more time agonizing over his diet and health than you do your own.
  • You’ve ever huddled over your dog’s bowl, filled with $5-a-day, human-grade “dog food,” and pretended to eat some of it so that your diva dog can determine it is also good enough to touch his royal palate. (Later, you will find him chewing on a rotting muskrat carcass in the yard.) 
  • You grudgingly allowed your dog to sleep at the foot of the bed when you first got him and he now sleeps spread-eagled and diagonally across the mattress so that you must cling to the very edge of the mattress, with one foot on the floor so you don’t fall off.
  • You’ve refused to get up to go to the bathroom for over an hour because Mr. Chumpers is sleeping on your lap and you can’t bear to disturb him. 
  • You’ve ever tenderly tucked a blanket around him so he doesn’t get cold. 
  • You've ever buried your face in his fur and started blubbering because you love him so much.
  • When you leave the house, you can’t bare to look back at Tucker or Ruby because you can’t stand the thought of their sad brown eyes staring back. 
  • With a single gaze, your dog maintains total control of your actions. One unwavering look and you have been trained to give him a piece of cheese, let him out in the yard or continue scratching his belly. Meanwhile, you have yet to successfully teach him to "sit."
Good luck resisting this look, as demonstrated by Copper.
Contributed / Tammy Swift

  • You inconvenience friends and family members by bringing your dog with you everywhere. (“I understand you’re living in a camper, Uncle Fred, but do you mind if we bring Della, our Great Pyrenees with us? Oh, and she needs her own bed. Tempur-Pedic, preferably.)

If you answered yes to any of the above, you are indeed a dog mom. What can you do about it? Probably not much.
Just pick up that dog-poo bag and join the rest of us.


Tammy Swift portrait for Brightspot module

Hi, I'm Tammy Swift, a loooong-time columnist for The Forum. Over the years, I've written about everything from growing up on the farm and life as a single woman to marriage, divorce and the "joys" of menopause. I'm also slightly obsessed with my dog. Check out my latest columns below. Reach me at

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Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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