Did you grow up with a pet? Many of us have had pets all of our lives, dogs, cats, a rabbit, or maybe it was a fish or bird; our pets are a part of the family. But are pets good for kids?
I cannot imagine living without a pet of some kind. Even in college, when pets were quite limited, I had a parakeet buddy that my college friends named “ditto” because he constantly tried to mimic us.
My earliest memories are of George, our beagle. George was always happy. He loved to run around the yard and would often cuddle next to me when I slept. George loved people and everyone loved George. I never even considered that he was bringing dirt into the house or that his teeth could pierce my skin. George was a part of our family.
Before we had human children, my husband and I had furkids. Borzoi and whippets lined our sofa and chairs. Jack and Jill, the bunnies, popped out of boxes in great fun, our cats sunned themselves in the window, and Hawkeye the Congo Grey talked very clearly when no one was in the room. As our children entered the family, they fit right into the mix and I never considered whether we should keep any of the non-humans. They were family and our family was expanding.
I was quite surprised when a friend asked us if we could take his two housecats. He and his wife had just had a new baby and were concerned that their cats would not accept their son. They had had these cats for many years and seemed to consider them furkids. But now the human kids were on the scene and the furkids, now about 10 years old, must leave. We took them, of course, though I didn’t understand how they could just leave them.
Over the years we’ve taken in or helped place many other animals, furkids that were displaced by human kids. Occasionally, the reasons are real; the new baby has serious allergies, the family pet is aggressive to the child and the trainer has recommended rehoming.
But most of the time it’s more imagined. What if kitty is jealous of the baby? We don’t want the dirt and fleas around our baby. We just don’t have time for pets now that we have a baby.
Other times it comes about after the child and pet have closely bonded. One dog came to us at the age of 5; his young teen owner obviously greatly saddened by his parents decision. They felt he should be involved in more community events and the dog was interference. I don’t know their family dynamics, of course, but the boy and dog were obviously very bonded and I’ve since wondered if the problem was just that his dog was bigger than his mom’s little yorkies. Will he choose to have a family dog when he is grown and married?
I can’t speak for all families, but I know that our family life is greatly enhanced by both our furkids and our human children. Our children have never known a time when we didn’t have animal companions and their lives are so much richer with the memories. Kids and pets, a natural in our family and in many other American families.
Enjoy a few minutes watching kids and their pets!