Dear Vonnie: "Pets"

Each Thursday, I will do my best to answer your questions. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I know it's not easy being a wife and mother. It can be frustrating and discouraging, yet very rewarding. I'd be glad to listen to you, pray for you, and share some of my thoughts with you.

So, ask me something... anything...

Dear Vonnie,
At what age, if any, would you consider a pet for a child that keeps asking for one?

"Daddy, pleeeeease can we have a puppy? a kitten? a hamster? a fish? anything?"

Does that sound familiar?

Pets are a lot of work, but they can also be an asset to the family. While your child is an infant or toddler, it probably not best to adopt a pet. You have enough messes to clean and things to protect without watching out for an animal too. If your pet is already established before the baby is born, then it can grow up with the child.

By the age of 5-6, a child should be learning to have regular chores. Feeding a pet is a good simple one for him. A cat or a caged animal is probably best. A dog or a farm animal requires a bit more work than he could handle by himself.

Having something depend on the child is good for him to learn responsibility. You may need to remind your child each day to do his job. Praise him for the times he remembers. Teach him that having responsibilities sometimes means doing the boring or messy jobs too.

Having pets will teach your child to be kind to animals. They are not to be treated as another person, but yet they should not be neglected or tortured. An animal is happy as long as it is fed, kept clean, and gets enough attention. A special pet can be a friend to your child. It doesn't boss them around; it doesn't argue back; it doesn't just listens and gives back love in return.

Our middle son, Stephen, wanted a puppy from the time he was little. He wanted one that wasn't too big or too small - one that he could play with and could sleep in his bed. For his 10th birthday, we let him pick out a cocker spaniel/english setter puppy. Corky was a real part of the family for about 15 yrs.

(Stephen, with Corky on the right;
Benjamin and Buddy on the left)

Our family had its share of cats, chickens, hamsters, and fish. I think if we had more land, Micah would have added a horse or a goat, too. Where you live makes a big difference in what kind of pets you should keep. Discuss this with your children, so they can help you make a wise choice.

The sad part of having pets is that they don't live as long as people. They will die. That can also be a time to discuss life and death. I don't tell my children that animals go to heaven. I don't belive they a have a soul or need salvation, anymore than a tree or dandelion plant. We can grieve over the loss of a pet, but it is just an animal. Displaying a picture or keeping a collar is a great way to remember the good times together.

I suggest going to an animal shelter and choosing a cute kitten or puppy to be a part of your child's growing up years. There's a special bond between kids and pets.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

I would also suggest that a family evaluate how much time they have regarding exercise and choose their new furry family member based upon that. Different dogs require different amounts of exercise. Meet with a dog trainer. They can help you choose an animal that best suits the dynamics of your family.
Blessings, andrea

PS: Great post! Too many people get animals and do not realize the work. Our shelters are full of animals that did not fit the home environment.


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