When I was growing up, my parents always had at least 3-4 dogs at a time and eventually a cat or two also. Pets were part of my life from birth until age 22. When I moved out on my own I did not get a pet (fish do not count) as I went off to university for six years and I worked and went to school so little time for pets. Plus, as I was home so little, I felt it was unfair to have a pet.
When I married, my then husband and I, got a puppy a few years after we married. Zoe was a beautiful part black lab….
After I left my husband, I got a kitten for my kids; She was 5 1/2 months old and here we are 31 months later with a cat and the two newest additions are mini-bunnies (got them a few weeks ago and they are currently 7 weeks old). My kids got a dog with their dad this past winter and so they are fortunate to have pets at both parents homes.
Zoe died over two years ago and actually she was put down because she was so sick. My kids told me how difficult it was and they had known Zoe since they were born. They still talk about her and miss her.
Pets bring joy, responsibility, and unconditional love. They teach kids to be responsible as they rely on their humans to feed them, give them water, play with them, take them out, take them to the vets and to just be there.
Pets are often the first time a child experiences death. For my kids, they had many other experiences of death though, their paternal great-grandmother, a school friend (age 6), My great-uncle, their uncles’ parent’s, some of my clients whom they had met over the years…
My kids take it in stride, but I know death is not easy. For my youngest, she still talks about her friend that was in a tragic accident at age 6, 3.5 years ago.
Death is a part of life and it needs to be recognized and discussed. To not do so will cause problems later on and we as parents do our kids no favors by ‘protecting’ them from death. Everything dies and I tell my kids this all the time. The grass will die, the trees will die, flowers die, pets will die and we as humans will eventually die…