National Kids And Pets Day
By Rebecka Hughes, CCS
One of my most joyful childhood memories was the day my dad brought home a kitten from one of his jobsites. My family had not had a pet before, and my brother and I were thrilled when we finally got to meet her. We named her Zena. We loved her from the moment we met her. That love was not reciprocated initially, and throughout her lifetime with us, she found more solace in the company of my mom and dad than with my brother and me. What we didn’t realize from the start was that she was pregnant, and shortly after rescuing our new kitten, we had three more in the house. Fortunately, two were adopted by family members and we kept the third. We named her Dusty. She was playful, silly, and extremely affectionate. I firmly believe that Dusty was the best cat in the world. Although she was a tiny little thing, she had the biggest personality and was always happy to see me. We grew up together and I will cherish the time that I had with her forever.
The bond that we share with our pets is extremely special, and it is safe to say that there is something magical about the bond shared between our children and our pets. It’s incredibly important that from an early age, our children learn to have compassion for animals, to experience unconditional love, to learn to be gentle and kind, and to learn to be responsible. Owning a pet teaches our children all of these things, and while doing so, they have a companion that grows up with them and becomes immersed in their memories. I find that when I reflect on my favorite childhood memories, many of them revolve around the pets that my family had when my brother and I were growing up.
If your family is thinking of getting a pet, there are many factors that should be considered in order to find the right one for your family. Here are a few of those things to take into consideration:
Your child’s age will determine how much of a hands-on role that he or she can play when it comes to being responsible for everyday care. Obviously, a middle or high schooler will be better suited (although possibly reluctant) to scoop a litterbox, clean a lizard’s cage, or pick up dog poop in the yard than a 2-year-old would. If you are comfortable with taking on the bulk of responsibility that comes with owning a dog or a cat, then having young children won’t necessarily factor so heavily when it comes to daily tasks. Regardless, even young children can participate in a pet’s care by scooping food into bowls, joining you on walks, or filling water bowls. Additionally, if you have toddlers, then you may want to seek out a pet that is comfortable with being handled. It is definitely a learning curve at first when teaching a young child to respect a pet’s boundaries and to be gentle. However, through supervision and repeated behaviors, your child can learn to properly interact with animals.
Your schedule is a huge factor when deciding whether a pet (and which type of pet) will be best for your family. Are you and your children involved in a ton of activities? Will someone be around to walk a dog multiple times daily? If you find that your days tend to be more chaotic, a pet who is more self-sufficient may be a better option.
It’s important to keep finances in mind, as well. It is estimated that in the United States, the yearly cost of having a dog averages between $1400 and $4400 per year. This includes yearly visits, monthly preventatives, food, treats, and supplies. The yearly average cost of owning a cat comes out to slightly less, with the average in the US sitting between $900 and $1200 per year.
Once you have found the pest that is best suited to your family and lifestyle, it will be so beautiful to see the bond between your child and your pet. So I wish you a very happy National Kids and Pets Day—I hope this day is filled with happy memories of your childhood pets and I hope your children and pet make some great memories today.