Imagine the following scene if you will. You have three children, the normal energetic kind who are always underfoot, always screaming and always full of life. The moment you set out a meal, they’re pushing and shoving to get the bigger share, to get there first, or just pushing for fun. And then, you get a nice fluffy puppy for the children. And you notice the difference immediately. Each time a meal gets set out, each time you give a child candy or something, the children think not of themselves, but of whether Barkley the puppy has had his share. Parents don’t often realize this; but when your kids ask to adopt a pet, it isn’t just additional responsibilities you need to concern yourself with. Pets can make children learn a thing or two about being kind, being selfless, about caring for another. And they can do this even if they are completely irresponsible when it comes to taking care of the pet’s everyday needs.
There are more pet owning families in America than families that don’t have a pet (and it’s almost an even way split between dog and cat households). Certainly, if you look at it in terms of how much a pet costs and all the hassles that go along with having a pet, it can be enough to dissuade anyone. But the soothing, humanizing influence that pets can be for everyone in the family, whatever time and money you spend when you adopt a pet will be spectacularly repaid.
There are other more tangible benefits that come by you too. Children who grow up in a home with pets grow accustomed (and unallergic) to everything that goes with pets – animal hair, mites, grass (that the animal rolls about in). Animals don’t just make you feel good. They make the whole family physically healthier. And of course, a well-adjusted pet makes for better blood pressure and just more Prozac-free happiness. Children, especially, find that a bond with a pet is a particularly valuable one. It’s the friend they get to have at home who always understands.
Going out to adopt a pet, make sure you go with a reputable breeder so that your pet is healthy and free of genetic disorders. And try to go with dogs that are known to be friendly with children. Dalmatians and Jack Russell terriers may look really cute; but they aren’t really friendly as far as children are concerned. And make sure that you don’t go with some kind of fad animal.