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Does having a pet teach responsibility?

December 9th, 2008 / 3 Comments

“Can we have a puppy for Christmas?”

Doesn’t every child dream of having a pet? A pony? A puppy? A rabbit?

When I was growing up, I wanted a dog, but the closest we got was a fish tank with an array of colorful fish. I developed a fear for fish when I woke up one morning and found our algae eater flapping around on the carpet. My screams woke the whole family. It was my brother’s fish tank, and I never went near it again.

When I became a mom, I decided I could finally make my own dream come true. I get to make the rules. So we’ve had hamsters, and we’ve had dogs. And yes, one goldfish that died in a week.

Now we have Smokey, our pet rabbit, pictured here. Smokey hops up and down the stairs, nibbles on the carpet for snack, and chewed a corner of a library book we neglectfully left on the floor.

It’s true what they say – the parents end up taking care of the pets. I picked up dog poop, I took them to the vet, I clean the rabbit litter.

But there are benefits to your children by owning a pet:

1. Children are naturally the smallest and lowest on the totem pole. Having an animal helps them feel “big”, that they are needed and important to someone smaller than them.

2. Children are naturally selfish. Having a pet helps them to look out for someone else, not just themselves.

3. Children are naturally rambunctious. Having a pet teaches them to be gentle and kind. Sometimes they can even be quiet.

But here are reasons NOT to get a pet:

1. If you think it teaches your kids to be responsible. Children are still just that, children. They forget to feed the dog; they rather play then pick up poop; they are at their friend’s house when it’s time to walk the dog. It’s unrealistic to expect them to be 100% responsible.

2. If you think you don’t have to take care of the pets. As with everything else, be prepared to pick up the slack. Don’t even get upset about it. Just Do It.

3. If you don’t like the pets yourself. Yes, the dog was my daughter’s dog, but I wanted to have a dog. I loved the dog and I enjoyed him. If I didn’t want to have a dog, it would become very contentious when my daughter neglects her responsibilities to her dog. If the pets cause disharmony in the home, then it’s not worth it.

My sister tried owning a dog, but decided they couldn’t handle the extra work. She gave the dog to a good home and that’s ok. Having a pet is not for everyone.

What has been your experience with pets?

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  1. yes I agree with it!..but there many other reason to have a pet at home.
    Withoth a doubt having a pet can make your life as fun as you can image.

  2. Ana: Pets do liven up your life!

    A friend commented to me, “Katy, you sure seem to love animals.” I said, “Not really. But pets break up the monotony of my suburban life!”

  3. Pets are great for kids and teens.. I have a little kitten at home. My daughter is 13 and ever since she’s had a pet she’s been more calm, caring.. she seems happier too.


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