The Doggie in the Window by Kristen White

Little One (17/366)
source: _tar0_

Have your kids been begging for a pet? Christmas is an exciting time to bless our children, and you may be thinking about finally giving in to their request. Here are some things to consider before adopting a new pet:

  • Timing. If you want to travel during the holidays—or if you travel frequently—think about the expense and complication of boarding a pet. Do you have a reliable pet care center in town? Are your children old and responsible enough to help with day-to-day pet-care chores? Are you considering another baby, a move, or a decision that would affect the long-term care of your pet? It is better not to get a pet and give him up later than to have one for just a little while.
  • Type. If your kids long for a pet, and a dog or cat is out of the question due to allergies, lifestyle, or other reasons, consider some kind of small, inexpensive friend, such as a hamster, guinea pig, or fish. If a dog or cat is on your horizon, consider not only the cost of the pet, but also the cost of shots, food, tick and flea medication, hygiene items, and other incidentals. Be aware that specialty pets, such as ferrets, rabbits, and de-scented skunks, can require a higher level of care and expense than cats and dogs. Read, ask questions, and be informed before you choose your pet.
  • Training. If you’ve narrowed down a special breed of dog or cat, ask for references of breeders, shelters, trainers, and vets.

Pets are one of the greatest sources of companionship and joy in life, but it is important to be informed before making a decision.

 

Kristen White enjoys writing, being in the kitchen, and teaching sixth graders at First Baptist Church Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Thinking About a Pet?

We had a tough last year with our pets. Our youngest pet, Tobey, was killed by a wild animal in a neighbor’s yard. Our oldest cat, Samantha, had to be put to sleep because of mouth cancer. Aside from dealing with the loss of these dear pets and talking with our kids about their deaths, we soon found that we really wanted another pet. After 5 months, we finally decided on a cat, Charlie. He is a frisky tabby that we dearly love!

After talking with a rep from the ASCPA about a ParentLife article, we found that many families adopt pets at Christmastime. Our monthly Real Life Solutions writer, Dr. LInda Mintle, has some good advice for families considering getting a pet.

Q: Our 10-year-old daughter is begging us for a pet. I have two younger children and adding a pet to the mix feels overwhelming. However, my daughter desperately wants a pet and I am an animal lover. I am not sure about the added responsibility right now. What should we consider in making this decision?

92_pet-adoption.jpgA: Most children will beg you for a pet some time in their young lives. The main issues to consider are the child’s developmental stage and your expectations for taking care of a pet. Obviously a cat or dog would require care and attention — feeding, grooming, exercise, clean up, and more. Other pets, such as fish and guinea pigs, are less time and care intensive and good choices for younger children. They offer you an opportunity to see how committed to taking care of a pet your child really is and how long interest will be sustained. Go to the library and get a book about pet care. As a family, talk about the needs of a pet, what type of pet you may consider, and what the expectations would be. For example, certain dog breeds are more kid-friendly than others. Goldfish or hermit crab requires very little upkeep and expense. Visit a pet store and talk with a friend who has the kind of pet you are interested in to get a better idea of time and care issues.

Know that your child could lose interest in the pet after several weeks and you may end up with the responsibility. Schedule playdates with a friend who has a pet and see if the interest in the pet sustains over time. Decide what you can handle right now and do not be swayed by the begging.

Finally, consider the cost of owning a pet, family stability in terms of moves and housing, the demand of time and energy, and the possibility of the pet becoming a source of family conflict if people slack off on their responsibilities. The benefits of pet owning should be considered as well. Pets help teach a child structure, empathy, compassion, nurturing, loyalty, trust, and responsibility and provide companionship. Pets are also sources of unconditional love and dependability. Pets can improve mood and blood pressure, increase family exercise, and even reduce stress.

For more information on adopting a pet, visit aspca.org. Visit Dr. Linda Mintle at drlindahelps.com.

Do you have a pet? Tell us what kind of pet you have and why!