We grew up with pets and I am not sure if I can ever find the right words to convey my love for them. No matter how hard I try to avoid adding a cliche here (a good friend says cliches are bad and I agree with her that they lack original thought), dogs (pets) are indeed a man’s best friends. But what exactly are the benefits of owning a pet?.
Five reasons why your child should grow up with a pet
My dad was not exactly a pet person. Though he never forbade us from owning a pet, he also never took the initiative of getting us one when we asked him. So we the brats took matters into our own hands and adopted our very first pet, a pussy cat :) . She was tiny, extremely naughty and those sparkling beady eyes could steal any heart. Then we added a puppy to our family. One of my brothers was having some serious crush on Juhi Chawla those days and using his ‘elder brother’ powers, he decided that she shall be named Juhi. The younger one was upset and refused to call her Juhi. Though he never mentioned it, I suspect he might have preferred Diana. He had a thing for princess Di.
Any healthy relationship is mutually beneficial to all parties involved but I believe that in a pet and pet owner relationship, pets give more than they receive. These are some of the reasons why your kids should own a pet.
Kids learn responsibility and discipline
Who will walk, clean, feed and take care of her?
Dad thundered while the three of us stood before him. We were desperate to keep her so we promised to take care of all duties of raising our pets.
We had to learn that pets are not toys that can be played with whenever we felt like it only to be ignored whenever we did not feel like it. They required regular attention and care. After two weeks of enthusiastic learning, we had it all figured out. We had a schedule to feed them, bathe them, walk them, play with them. We rose to the occasion and our parents were satisfied that we had taken on the responsibilities of pet care.
We learned how to gently handle a puppy, read their cues and give them the appropriate care, maintain a vaccination chart, groom them. The bottom line is we learned how to take care of another life that is dependent on us. Of course our parents were the primary care providers but they slowly eased us into the job. We had to become disciplined and we did. Another important lesson we learned was to follow rules and that there will be natural consequences for our actions – over feeding will kill the fish, inadequate and irregular grooming will cause shedding of hair etc.
We were the cool kids
Not many homes in our street had pets. So the other kids who wanted to play with our puppy had to be nice to us. How about that .. huh? ;-) After a while, our home became know as Juhi’s house. Some even offered to walk her for us. When she was a little older, we let her go out on her own and she used to come back smelling nice. Later one aunty confessed that she had put a little powder on Juhi’s face and once she even came back with a nice bow on her tail. Our little missy liked to be pampered and our neighbors were only too eager to feed her some of her fav delicacies..sometimes a little too eager I should say. One neighbor had a goodies tin in her house for Juhi.
Before you point that accusatory finger towards us, let me assure you that even though we had tons of opportunities, we did not do what Tom Sawyer did.
Importance of outdoor physical activities
Pets especially dogs need exercise and play time. Hey! anything to drag those kids away from their ipads and TVs is good isn’t it? Having pets is a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the importance of outdoor physical activity. In a way, our pets disciplined us.
Stress relief because of their unconditional love
Many studies have concluded that pets can be great stress relievers. You leave the house and after a minute you realize that you forgot something and go back home, you get the same warm welcome as if you have been away the whole day. Nothing matches the lavish love they shower on us. My dad travels a lot for official business so he was happy that we owned a dog because she could scare away thieves in his absence. We got used to his regular trips and though we were happy to see him after his trips, we could never match the joy Juhi exhibited upon his return home. She would be super excited and follow him throughout the day in fear that he might go away again. After a while, he was really convinced that she loved him more than his own kids :) that he allowed others to address him as Juhi’s daddy. Yes, dad we know about the secret jaggery treats you gave her and that you started waking up a little earlier so you get to walk her before we woke up.
Loneliness of single kids
Many of us grew up with siblings and might never understand the loneliness of single kids. A pet can be a wonderful addition to the family to drive away this loneliness. Single kids will learn about sharing, taking care of another living being, unconditional love and a whole lot of things.
Some tips for potential pet owners
1. If you are too busy, please do not adopt a pet. Pets are not furniture that can be brought home and ignored. They need our love, time, attention and lots of activity
2. Please do not buy pets because it encourages greedy pet breeders who use animals as baby making machines.
3. Make sure none of your family members are allergic to pet hair. There are some breeds that shed lesser than other breeds.
4. Vaccinate your pets regularly
5. Read about Zoonosis and teach your kids proper hygiene if they handle pets
6. Choose a pet who will match your lifestyle
7. Pet abuse, like any abuse, is a sin and also punishable by law.
These are just a few of the benefits of growing up with pets. Did you grow up with pets? Tell us your experience of growing up with pets.