I’m 34 and childless, but I have two “toddlers” running around my house – my dogs Daisy and Rosie.

In some circles it’s taboo to refer to yourself as a doggy mama, but science is telling us over and over that dogs are actually a lot like human children.

One study said that toddlers and dogs have similar social skills and learn social behaviors in the same ways. We also now know that dogs have a wide range of feelings and even have the intelligence of a toddler too. So why is it so crazy to think about your dog in a similar way as you would a human child?

As one friend once said, “Having dogs is like having a 3-year-old that never grows up.”

And it’s true – As dog owners, we clean up their poo, feed them, comfort them when they’re scared, bathe them, teach them new things and play with them. We take them to daycare and even doggie play dates. We spend insane amounts of money on their care from vaccinations to toys to food.

I understand that dogs are not humans, and I’m not trying to anthropomorphize them at all. Canines have different needs and traits than we do. Although they likely experience many of the same emotions as we do, it’s hard to say just how basic or advanced these feelings are.

All the same, I say there’s no shame in being a doggie mama.  The bond that we share with our best friends doesn’t just span your dog’s own lifetime – it goes back centuries to when the first dogs decided that they wanted to hang out with us strange bipedal hominids. So embrace it!