Our Pet Golden Retriever Emmy just turned eleven years old a few weeks ago.
She is a great dog and a loyal companion.
In honor of my dog Emmy turning eleven, I thought I would offer eleven benefits that owning a pet can bring to your children.
Pets Provide Comfort
Try snuggling with a puppy or kitten and not feeling better. Colleges now offer Golden Retriever puppies for students to pet and hold at exam time. This is proven to de-stress the students, as they literally get a warm fuzzy feeling! A word of caution- this does not work well with Piranhas and Boa Constrictors.
Pets Give a Kid Someone to Talk to
Sometimes a kid just needs to talk to someone besides mom or dad. A pet makes a perfect listener. Pets don’t interrupt they just listen. Pets can’t offer a solution, but they also don’t give out bad advice. Another Bonus-An understanding pet makes a great replacement for your child’s imaginary friend!
Pets Promote Exercise
Pets love exercise and they love it even more when a kid is involved. They love chase games, hide and seek and more. I have fond memories of Emmy romping around in the snow with our daughter. Another word of warning – I tried this with my turtle when I was a kid. Not that exciting and the turtle didn’t do very well in the snow (its teeth chattered for days).
Pets are Part of the Family
When you have a small family pets are a great way to gain an extra member.
If you have an only child a pet makes a perfect companion.
Remember, pets may not be human, but they do fight for your attention just like a child does.
If you have a large family a pet makes a perfect playmate and they spread their love to everybody.
Pets Encourage Nurturing
Pets crave love, attention and of course food. Having a pet encourages a kid to give another living creature the things it needs to grow, thrive and survive. Encourage your child to feed the family pet, give it water, groom it and even bathe it (some of this will require adult assistance of course). Side note: If you decide on a porcupine as a pet, it’s best to let it groom itself and let’s be real… who decides to get a porcupine?!
Pets are a Responsibility
This is an extension of the pet needing to be nurtured.
Pets have to be fed (make sure your child knows the proper amount) but they need more. Fish require clean water, hamsters a tidy cage and parrots need the newspaper changed (nobody likes old news, especially with bird poop on it). Pets go to the doctors and need exercise. Have a pet care chart for your kid, so they understand that having a pet is a responsibility.
Pets are Funny
Pets do crazy things. My dog Emmy loves to chase rocks and can balance a water bottle on her head. We had a cat that scaled our screen door and climbed into our Christmas tree. I had a Dachshund that squeezed into my sweater sleeve (it took an hour to find her). Some birds sing and talk funny, hamsters look hilarious when they spin on a wheel (this isn’t quite as funny when you want to sleep) and fish make goofy faces. When a kid laughs, it makes them and you feel good. A pet is a great way to add laughter to the household.
Pets are Loving and Compassionate
They sense your pain and seem to know the right time to come up and comfort you. Dogs and cats are great at this. Birds can sing to make you feel better. Ferrets will crawl right up on your neck and seem to say “Are you going to be okay ”
Pets Give Protection and Security
Just ask the mailman about this one. Dogs will scare off an unwanted intruder with their barking. My daughter always feels safer when our dog is around to guard the homestead.
Animals are great at alerting you when something is amiss.
Pets Teach Kids Life Lessons
Pets teach us about loyalty, friendship, behavior patterns, responsibility and more.
They also teach us about illness, coping and death. There is real emotional pain when a pet dies. I remember crying like a baby at the end of Marley and Me (it brought back memories of my own pets dying). Because pets don’t live long lives, kids often learn that life goes forward even after a death. They learn this often with those Goldfish you win at Carnivals (I still recall the thrill when one of my carnival goldfish lived for an entire week!)
Pets Provide Fond Memories of Childhood!
Once your child grows up they will most certainly remember that special pet they had as a kid. We all do! As the saying goes “Life is great, but it’s better with a pet!”