My family consists of a supportive husband, my two boys, two dogs, a cat, and an aquarium of assorted tropical fish, that too-often need replacing... All of us are animal lovers, feed the birds, the ducks, geese, squirrels and we never kill bugs in our home, just catch them and remove them to the outdoors. (we do swat mosquitoes though) I can't imagine our family without having our pets included, they absolutely enrich our lives. It breaks my heart to know that there are so many dogs and cats in shelters needing loving homes, and I'm sure that we will in time adopt another cat, and perhaps another dog... Probably sooner than later. My kids have been begging me for some time now, it wont be long until I break down.

Do you have pets? If not, would you consider getting one for your kids? Do your children have some responsibility in the care of your animals? Would you get a pet from a shelter or animal breed rescuer? For me that's the only way to go.



The Benefits Of Pet Ownership For Children
Written by Robin Elton
Posted in Health, Parenting

Last spring, my family had to cope with the loss of our 13-year-old mutt, Zooey. We toyed with the notion of another dog, but ultimately decided we weren’t ready yet.

Earlier today, however, I came across this startling statistic from the Humane Society of the United States:

“The HSUS estimates that animal shelters care for between 6–8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3–4 million are euthanized.”

Those numbers are likely to increase this year in response to home foreclosures and other economic woes, as more animals are turned over to shelters by owners who can no longer afford to care for them. In my area, shelters have been offering special days when adoption fees are waived; also, they have been asking the public for donations of pet food and supplies. Not just for the overcrowded shelters, but for pet owners who are in need of the help.

I can’t chase this thought out of my head, of all those dogs and cats in need of homes. But if the truth is to be told, I know that the real reason that I want another dog is because it completes my mental image of home, of family.

And in a completely objective, entirely unbiased sort of way, I’m mulling over all the benefits- physical, mental, and emotional- that this potential family addition would have for my children.

There are numerous benefits that pets provide for kids:


* Children who grow up in homes with pets have less risk of developing common allergies and asthma
.
* Playing with dogs may help lower blood pressure.

* Kids with pets get outside more- to go for walks, run, and play- and enjoy all the associated health benefits.

* Pet owners require fewer doctor’s visits.

* Emerging readers often feel more comfortable reading aloud to a pet.

* Nurturing a pet is an acceptable way for boys to “parent play”; to practice being caregivers.

* Feeding and caring for a pet encourages childhood responsibility.

* Children with pets display improved impulse control, social skills and self-esteem.

* Sharing the love and care of a family pet forges an additional common bond among siblings.

* Pets offer security and stability. Nearly 70% of children confide in their pets, confident their secrets will not be betrayed.

* Cuddling a pet reduces stress, loneliness, and anxiety.

* And pets provide a natural gateway into the animal kingdom- love for one’s pet as a child often translates into an adult belief that the relationship between humans and animals is one of mutual support.

I’m not quite committed yet to the responsibility of a new dog. I’m not crazy about having to go through training a dog again, or being on poop patrol. Maybe to begin, we can be a foster family for a dog or aid homeless pets in some other way. But more and more I find myself thinking- kids and dogs, they belong together, right?

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Replies to This Discussion

I agree that having pets as a child is a great thing. My kid's dad grew up in a home without pets...his family were farm folk that only saw pets as utilitarian (cats are for keeping down the mice, dogs guard the barns, etc). One of the first things I did when we got together was have him pick out his own cat. He loves having pets now and so our kids have lots. His sister on the other hand has herself convinced that she is deathly allergic to all animals and her daughters aren't permitted to have pets. It makes me sad (especially because I know their dad is an animal lover).
We've always had pets...dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fancy rats, fish snakes, lizards, spiders...
The one animal always in the house is a cat...the rest have been with us at various times.

I firmly believe that a cat is a great way for a child to learn "manners". If you mistreat a cat, it'll scratch you, and run off, in my experience. No real damage done, other than tears and minor wound. A dog, OTOH, can inflict serious, off-to-the-hospital damage, even a little one.

So, although our boys wanted a dog, we waited until the youngest was old enough to understand and be gentle. Then we bought a shepherd pup, and they've grown up together. All the boys learned responsibility, and IMO, an added dimension of compassion and love by having pets around. All the above reasons posted are valid for me as well.

I have never in my life and will never be without a pet of some kind. Studies show that they lower blood pressure, and help elderly people remain independent longer and avoid depression more often than petless old folks.

Plus I like having a cat curl up on my lap while I watch TV, or having my dog lie next to me while I work in my garden. They "complete my mental image of home", as the post above stated. AAMOF, my mental image of home includes 4 cats and a dog, but that's just me! ;)

Fostering is a great way to find a new forever pet, and is a social service as well. We fostered cats for a couple of years. It gets expensive if you have a lot of vet visits or multiples, though.
Currently we have four dogs. Three labs and a pitbull mix named Charles Bronson. They are fantastic with my daughter. All of them have were rescue dogs.

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