Do children need pets?

In our age of electronic everything; where interaction, preferences and desires are met by a push of a button, the experience of caring for a living, breathing creature has become a need for children to experience first hand a connection to the natural world and all its lessons and wonders.

Pets reach us in places lost to over scheduled lives, single parent households, dual income necessities. They fill the void of unconditional love, limitless time and teach our kids the joy of just being together in ways that many families have lost. Pets connect kids to a world of reality not made by people…a world of the unexpected, unpredictable and not easily dismissed with the switch of a station. Pets belong to the natural world…even the most pampered pooch is still a dog! They live by and quietly demonstrate the needs, events and timing of a bigger world, reminding our children of the need to be caretakers of the planet and sharers of the resources. They are a gentle reminder that we all have a role and contribution to make to something beyond ourselves.

Do children need pets? As long as children need to confide the secrets of their little hearts to a “great listener”, children need pets. As long as children need to experience the cycle of life that teaches them of the value of all life, children need pets. As long as children need to develop a sense of understanding, compassion and responsibility that will better equip them to take their place in our world, children need pets. As long as children need laughter, AAAWWW moments, and a sense of being able to make a difference…children need pets.

Caring for another living thing requires communication skills, observational skills and commitment. In my household we have cared for countless species of pets…cats, dogs, horses, sheep, fish, frogs, lizards and more. My daughters, now in their late teens, grew up surrounded by four legged (and feathered friends) who all had their own language. Each of these creatures had their special likes and dislikes, behaviors and needs. The girls learned very quickly that teasing the cat was not a nice thing to do…they learned that little parakeets can be taught to speak…through patience and practice. They explained to the puppies why it was important to listen to the “grown ups” even if they were only five! They shared their heartbreaks and pre teen secrets with their devoted companions who’s lips would remained sealed (except for the big sloppy kisses

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