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"Mom, I want a dog!"
"Mom, I want a hamster!"
"Mom, I want a bird!"
I heard those requests more than a few times from my kids. Every now and then, we would stop at pet stores and look at various pets. The very first pet we had was the obligatory goldfish that the kids won at a carnival. Inevitably, the fish floated belly up and went on the "Flush Trip" to heaven.
The next pet we had was a beautiful blue parakeet. In less than a week, a neighbor's kid gave the bird a little too much love and squeezed the life out of him.
A pair of hamsters came home next. Carmie and Teddy battled it out at first. We had no idea that this breed of hamsters were solitary pets. We got lucky though--the two of them learned to live together and most days they snuggled in their cage. They were the ultimate awesome pets--Carmie and Teddy would often sleep in the crook of our arms while watching movies. Sadly, Carmie was the victim of yet another youngster with lethal hands. Teddy had a broken heart and went a few months later.
Then Kaycie came into our lives.
It was a snowy winter day and the kids were bored during the holiday break. On complete impulse, we stopped at a family-owned pet store. A cute West Highland White Terrier sat in a cage. "I want that dog," one of the kids said. But the Westie was soon in the arms of another customer. We took a Maltese out in the yard but the kids didn't bond well. None of the other dogs captured their hearts.
As we were about to leave, we noticed the Westie was back in the cage. We took her out back to play in the yard.
I had NO plans to purchase a dog that day, but the Westie chose us. We simply could not leave without her. The hubby and I had planned to get a dog a few years down the road when the kids were older.
It is now 10 years later and Kaycie has been the best dog ever. I have no regrets about taking her home that day.
Children reap numerous benefits from having pets, including a sense of love, responsibility, and ownership. However, pets are definitely not for everyone and there's a lot to think about when taking on the responsibility of another living being. Here are some things to consider:
Cost: It's easy to overlook the total cost of having a pet. There's the initial cost (the pet, cage/living quarters, accessories, toys) and ongoing (vet bills, food costs, medicine, tags, grooming, boarding).
Responsibilities: Most pets have daily care and feedings. Do you have the time and the energy to take care of your pet each day? You'll also have to think about who will care for your pet/s when you go on vacation.
Age of your kid/s: Are your kids at the age where they can care for the pet and handle it with care?
Allergies: Are your kid/s allergic to pets? You don't want to purchase an expensive pet only to discover that you will have to give it up because of severe allergies.
Weigh all the pros and cons of bringing a pet into the family and then ultimately, you'll discover the right pet at the right time for your family.
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