Friday, January 9, 2015


So, did your little Tommy or Jenni get a dog, turtle, bird, chicken or kitten for Christmas?

I bet they were excited.  I have always loved family pets.  They bring a unique richness to their owners and they are a wonderful way to teach kids to be gentle, loving and kind in their care of them.

However, there are many things to weigh up before buying a family pet.

   a)  Is it practical to have this pet?  (Is our lifestyle going to be an issue?)
   b)  Can we afford to buy it?
   c)  Can we afford to feed it?
   d)  Can we afford veterinary care and vaccinations?
   e)  Have we got enough room?
   f)   How much attention and exercise does THIS pet need?
   g)  Will our child/children take responsibility for it?
   h)  Who will look after it when we go on vacation?
   i)   Is this a pet all family members will appreciate?  (Some pets pervade the whole household
           e.g. dogs, while others are confined e.g. fish or turtles.)
   j)  Are we willing to commit ourselves to this pet for its entire life? (Some large hooked-
           beaked birds, for example may well outlive their owners!)
   k) When the kids get tired of looking after their pet, do I/we want to take responsibility for it?
   l)  When the kids leave home, will the pet go with them?  If not, then what?
   m) Could the pet be dangerous? (e.g. snakes, certain breeds of dogs)

I have a friend whose kids were always bringing home pets.  One son decided he wanted a python so he brought it home and put it in a big covered fish tank in his bedroom.  There it stayed, hibernating for long periods.  One night it woke from its long slumber and escaped from the fish tank to find water.  It slithered down the hallway into the bathroom where it wrapped itself around the bowl of the commode and stuck its head in for a long drink.  Along came father to make a late night bathroom stop.  Fortunately, he turned the light on.  One look at the snake and his hair stood on end!  He bolted into to his son’s room, dragged him out of bed and made him retrieve his pet.  Needless to say the snake went to a new home at the zoo the very next day!

An animal deserves to live a long and happy life just like its owner.   How can we make that happen?

1. Be objective in buying a pet.  Don't fall into the trap of a child bouncing up and
    down before you pleading to buy a cute kitten or puppy they just saw in a pet store.  Weigh up all
    the factors above and then go looking for the very one that will most suit your circumstances.
2. Be kind to your pet.  Ensure all family members treat the pet gently, and thoughtfully at all times.
3. Be responsible for daily care. Add the pet responsibilities to your family's daily routines.
4. Plan vacation time to include pet care.
5. Ensure the pet receives timely and adequate vet care.

Unfortunately, many pets end up at the Humane Society because kids have ‘outgrown’ them or they become an inconvenience and this may mean a tragic end for the pet.

If you and your children treat your pets with love and respect they will give you many years of joy and devotion.

Once you learn to respect and love pets, that training stays with you even into old age.

Written by Sally Burgess
Forefront Families LLC

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