Mommy – I want a pet!
Isn’t this a dilemma that we parents face every time our kids who love animals see a dog or a cat?
It has almost been two decades since I lost my beloved pet dog, Jimmy, yet I remember him and his memories fondly. I remember as a young teen begging my parents to get me a pet dog. My mom was totally against it, and asked me to forget about getting the dog and to not talk about it again. The urge to have a pet was too strong to resist and after much pleading, crying and promise of taking care of him more than my life, my parents finally agreed and eventually bought me a dog – cute, cuddly white Pomeranian who we named Jimmy and as a puppy we all fall in love with him.
So, here I was in the present situation and time where my daughter who also shares the same genuine love and warmth for the animals started pestering me or should I say begging me to get her a pet dog. I remembered my days of whining and whimpering for a pet and could totally relate to her but now the situation was a bit different. Back then with almost someone or the other at home, it was much easier to take care of, and feed the dog and even take him out for his daily walks, which was kind of a ritual in the family.
So here I was thinking of all the logistics of getting a pet and questions as to how and who will be taking care of the dog, walking the dog, what happens when we go for vacations etc. After much thought and deliberation, I decided it would not be a good fit and sadly refused my daughter to get a pet and asked her to forget about it. It felt like I was repeating history. There were many questions asked as to why not and what if, and how come you got to have a dog, and I can’t, and so on and so forth. I had to explain the situation to her that taking care of pets is like taking care of a child. That once we bought a dog, we would need to take care of his daily needs like taking him out for a walk, feeding him, cleaning him and playing with him so that he would get his exercise and much needed attention from the family. Were we all ready for that kind of time and commitment?
It is important for the kids to understand that owning a pet is a big responsibility. They need a lot of care, love and support not only for a few months but for many years to come. Children need to be first asked questions as to how will they take responsibility and care for their pet. Is it just a companion for play or are they willing to clean after their pets? Are they willing to spend time to walk it two to three times a day and also are they willing to take the responsibility to feed it and play with it? I remember having to take my dog to the vet for his yearly vaccinations as well in addition to all of the above.
Having a pet is a great addition to the family provided all in the family are accepting of it and making sure that the chores and the responsibility is equally divided among everyone. It is important to research the type of breed that you intend to bring, making sure it is the right fit for the family. If the lifestyle of the family is busy then it is really not a good idea to have a pet as they can suffer from loneliness and depression if left alone for long periods of time. Pets can be great companions for children and teach them to be responsible and care for other living beings. Children also need to be taught that pets need to be treated with respect and to not hurt them or be angry at them. Parents can also help children decide to keep a smaller pet like a fish or guinea pig that require less maintenance and time.
My daughter who had been yearning for a pet for years finally convinced us in getting her a pet and in one of our visits at the Humane society we adopted an adorable and handsome cat Bobo. He is the center of attraction right now and is a great companion to my daughter who takes care of him in many ways. In the end, to bring a pet is a decision that should be made by the parents as they are ultimately responsible for the care and wellbeing of it.
Author: Reema Beher
Reema is originally from Mumbai and now lives in the Greater Seattle area. After working in the Technology and Education areas, she has now started writing as she finds joy in translating her thoughts into words! She is passionate about writing and she also loves being outdoors spending time hiking and travelling with her family.