“Can we get a dog?” “No!”
This conversation replayed over and over like a broken record until one day I said, “Yes.” I don’t know who was more shocked at the change in answer…me, my husband, or my kids. It wasn’t a spur of the moment change. It was a simple thought process that brought me to that moment, and it went something like this.
First, let me give a little bit of history. I grew up with animals galore in my home…birds, cats, dogs, you name it. My neat freak, keep-everything-tidy-and-clean self did not cope well with this. My room was my sanctuary and the only place I could control. I cleaned it often.
When the question was raised on adding a pet to our family, my mind went back to those childhood days raising my OCD meter to a resounding high. However, each question chipped away at my pet issues until finally one day I thought, “I’d hate for my kids to go through their childhood and never have the opportunity to have a pet.”
So the answer turned from “No” to “Yes” just like that.
Then I started realizing that not only was it fun for my kids to have a furry friend but that there was actually some good things that could be learned as a result. That’s right. There are benefits to owning a pet!
1. It creates a sense of companionship. Our dog LOVES my kids. She mopes when they go to school and greets them at the door with a wagging tail when they return. The mutual love is a beautiful thing to witness.
2. It teaches kids to pick up their stuff! Every dog goes through a chewing stage. While it’s annoying, it’s also a great way for your kids to learn to pick up their things. Win, win for Mom!
3. Owning a pet teaches responsibility. The one condition I told my kids when we got our lab mix, Snowy, was that they had to be the ones to take care of her. Making sure she has food and water, bathing her, and picking up doggy doo in the backyard are all their responsibilities. They quickly discovered taking care of a dog is hard work, but the benefits of having her have outweighed the responsibility that comes with pet ownership.
4. It creates more opportunities for exercise. Our dog LOVES to run, so a quick jaunt outside is a perfect way to pass the time and exercise those legs, furry or otherwise.
5. Owning a pet inspires creative play! My kids have taught our dog lots of fun tricks, but the silliest thing that they have done is organize a birthday party for her. It was ridiculous, but it helped them think through how to plan a party, organize fun games, and decorate.
Genesis 1:24, 25 says, “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
God created animals and saw that it was good. Pets are good, but you have to know when is the right time to add them to your family. It’s ironic, because I was so reluctant to say yes to a pet, but now I can’t imagine not having Snowy in our family.
Have you ever read Henry Hodges Needs A Friend? It’s a delightful tale of a young boy who was feeling rather lonely but all that got turned around when he picked out a dog at the pet shelter. It’s a beautiful story for young readers.
Do you have a pet? If so, has it made a positive impact on your family?