As with most pets, my dog Eloise is essentially our seventh family member. The perpetual baby

in the house, she is constantly coddled and catered to, and even her bad deeds are forgotten as

soon as she does something else cute.


Of course, I am also incredibly guilty of showering little Eloise with complements and treats. I

refer to her as “baby” and “sweetpea” almost as much as I call her by her name, and I never miss

an opportunity to tell her how cute she is. Because, I mean, she is legitimately the cutest thing



However, I have recently begun to realize something. While I cannot seem to stop telling Eloise

how pretty and cute she is, I very rarely tell her anything else. Sometimes I will tell her she is

silly when she does bizarre dog things (like try to dig a hole on someone’s bed), or other times

she gets the “ya nasty” thrown at her for eating rabbit poop. But normally she just receives

comments concerning her adorable looks.


I continued to catch myself doing this, and I began to start thinking – what am I teaching her?

What am I telling her is important to other people, to me? Is she going to start thinking that being

cute and silly are the only things that matter?


It’s a laughable predicament, I know – but one that is extremely relevant to modern culture.

For pets often are treated as forever children by their owners, and are talked to as such. Telling

children how pretty and cute and handsome they are doesn’t really get them anywhere in life.

Praising their intelligence, their creativity, their courage, and their character would do way more

in developing their sense of a confident self than teaching them that people only care about their



I’m not saying one shouldn’t complement others’ looks; on the contrary, someone telling me

they like my hair style can turn a bad day into a great one. It’s more about balancing out these

physical comments with ones of a less tangible nature. Show those whom you are admiring that

you value their whole person, not just what’s outside.


Little Eloise still receives an obnoxious amount of complements from myself and other members

of my family. But I make sure to tell her how clever she is often, just so that she knows her

brains are more important than her beauty.