If you cannot decide whether you should adopt a pet
What emotions do you have when you think about having a pet?
For many parents such combination as children and pets is a very complicated issue. On one hand positive influence of communication with animals on kids is huge: it is no secret that children who have pets learn to be responsible more easily. For example, boys and girls learn to clean after a cat, feed a guinea pig or walk a dog, and as a result youngsters acquire a higher level of responsibility.
In 2011 the UK’s largest dog welfare charity Dogs Trust has conducted a research that showed that communication with dogs stimulate children who have difficulties in development, it decreases possibility of having allergies, asthma and eczema; it lessens depression and improves mental health. In any case a child receives more positive emotions because the excitement that your son or daughter gets while playing with an animal cannot be compared to anything else.
On the other hand any parent in the first place thinks about the problems that might occur in their way, problems that might wait at home every day. I think that all mothers and fathers either way fear that despite of the child’s promises to care about a pet on his own: to feed, walk, clean and train, — in fact most of these becomes a duty of parents, mostly on the mother because fathers more often are strong enough to say “no”. Although sometimes we also meet very patient fathers who are ready to take this responsibility. Thus parents have not only a child to care, but also a pet.
Certainly such risk exists and it is always rather big. However here everything depends on how much you as a parent will let your child manipulate you. At the very beginning the kid wants and will take care about your pet. During first couple of days your kid will zealously walk the dog, proudly clean after the cat, keenly feed them. Often in some time this enthusiasm disappears, the small pet owner doesn’t want to wake up early in the morning to walk the dog or feed the cat. That is why it is vitally important in the very beginning to have a conversation with your child and discuss what would your pet need from its owner, what would happen if your son or daughter do not do it. The majority of such questions are mentioned in the present book. The most important thing is that the kid should understand, not only listen to a lecture about what he or she should do as a responsible pet owner. The best way is to ask leading questions so that your junior enumerated what this particular animal needs, how often, in what value, how much it would cost to his parents and if it is worth it.
You can hold this conversation in the form of a game. Give your child a task to find answers to the following question (using the internet, books, journals, asking a vet or a shop assistant in a pet shop, or a volunteer of a local animal welfare organization). When your boy or your girl find the answers to these questions on their own (possibly with a small help from your side), they will have much more motivation to take care about their pet in future.
Here are the major questions for such task:
— What a dog (cat, hamster… the animal that you are going to have as a pet) should eat and what will be unhealthy or poisonous for it?
— How much food will this animal need per day?
— How much money will you need to spend of food for this animal?
— What conditions (temperature, space, rest time, exercise, games, communication) does this species need?
— What kind of grooming (bath, combing, toilet specifics, cat trees, etc.) does your future pet need?
— What kind of training (toilet training for cats, walking for a dog, going on a lead, commands, teaching to sharpen claws and teeth only in certain places) does it need?
— What procedures will be necessary (spay or neuter, regular anti flea and anti worm treatment, vaccination)?
If your child is already not too small, he or she can take these two questions as well:
— Where are the nearest vet clinics? Take their contact details.
— What legal rules regulate keeping pets in your town?
It is very important for the kid to find the answers to these questions with minimal participation from your side. It will be a good motivation and this way the information will be kept in the memory for a longer time.
Fortunately these days more and more people take a responsible approach to the issue of having a pet. Millions of people have stopped perceiving an animal as a status symbol of a toy, and have started to treat animals as living beings with its feelings and needs. This tendency means that our society makes a big step toward harmonic coexistence with other people and the nature.
This book summarizes the main issues of concern to pet owners. After reading it you will be able to clearly understand whether you need it all, if you can provide comfort to the animal, and a comfortable life for yourself, or you would better not start it.
Most of people believe that anyone can manage caring for a pet, and if not you can always give it away or abandon it. But I am sure that this book is read by responsible people who having taken care of a living being, will remain with it forever, and reach great results in its upbringing and harmonious life with it. And I will do my best to give you enough information for it.
Congratulations on having a new family member! How to avoid problems adopting a pet?
1. Whom to choose? When to make the choice? Let’s talk about a suitable age of your child and of your new pet
When we speak about the age of an animal many people even do not have such question “What age should be the animal?” The vast majority will say without thinking: “I want a small kitten!” or “I want a small puppy!”. These people are sure that the smaller the animal the better. Everybody wants only small animals. Everyone has different reasons, like “It is so sweet, this fluffy creature, it is so cute, when it is small”. The second most popular reason is “We need to take an animal when it is small for it to get used to us”.
These two reasons are the main ones why people take animals of young age. Regarding the second reason I would like to share my own opinion with you. I have experience with bringing up animals that came to me in older or even senior age, and I can assure you there is no difference if a young animal will be getting used to you or a senior one. Adaptation period does not depend on age. It depends on mental state and the individual characteristics of each individual animal. Adaptation period will be necessary in any case whether it is like a little kitten or an adult cat, a little puppy or an adult dog.
As for the first mentioned reason, yes, the reason to have a cute small fluffy creature is very convincing but have you ever wondered about statistics? Figures given by animal protection societies of Europe say that many animals were abandoned or placed in shelters because they grew up and stopped being so nice cute fluffies, they became adults, and their owners didn’t need them anymore because the animals are no longer kids. In such cases, it would be desirable to draw an analogy and ask these people, if they when their children grow up, will they abandon or kill them, too, because they are no longer cute kids. I anticipate you to say, “Well, it’s children how can we compare?” You certainly can compare because an abandoned child and abandoned cat feel exactly the same way. An animal that is used to living in the house will not adapt to living in the streets and will die. Domesticated animals do not have developed instincts, our pets depend too much on us humans. If you take a pet to your family, it is the same thing as you are having another child. But if you want a toy, you should better buy your child a soft toy that looks like a cat and let him play with it.
Concerning other reasons, I personally prefer having adult pets. I have different motives here. The first one is that small animals need much attention. They need to be played with, they need to be trained. If you do not play with them and not train them and not give them as much attention as they need, they start to throw things from shelves, scratch wallpaper, make a mess and be very naughty.
When you come home from work and see your house upside down, the first thought you would probably have is “Hey, you …. Stupid, naughty, bad kitten/puppy!” But the cause of such behavior is not that the animal is stupid or naughty, but that it didn’t get enough care and attention. All kids need to be brought up. Dogs need to be trained, to know commands. You don’t need it to know any extraordinary tricks or circus programmes, but any dog no matter if it is a giant bear shaped dog or a tiny pocket dog, should know basic commands. Any mutt should know at least what “no!” means, and where its “place”. Because a dog, in contrast with a cat and other pets, interacts with other people and other animals both in the house and outside. That is why if you take an adult dog, it can be either already trained, or you at least can see its temper and you know what to expect from it. Thus you already understand what exactly you need to tech it. Naturally there is a probability that in your house this very creature would behave differently from the way it behaved in previous owner’s house because the surrounding and attitude is different. However in any case an animal in its early age can give you more surprises that an adult.
There is one more disadvantage of kittens and puppies is that they produce a lot of noise. They wake up at about 5—6 o’clock in the morning, paly, run over your head. And here no commands will work because kids have too much energy and they have to waste it somehow. This energy will decrease with age. Certainly, every animal has different temper and your pet can be very active and noisy in older age too, but in any case an adult animal is less active than a small one.
Seniour animals is a separate topic. Some people do not want to take elderly animals because they will die sooner. I should say that in my life the cleverest and the most incredible dog (I do not mean to offend my other dogs whom I have loved, respected and adored very much) was a dog whom I took when he was more than ten years old. Nobody knew his exact age because he was found in the street. He lived with me for only a year and died from a chronic disease that had worsened with age. Nevertheless this year was one of the most wonderful years in my life and I am extremely glad that this dog lived this brilliant year with me.
If we speak about age of your child, here we should think about the fact that when a kid is up to three years old, he or she tries to learn the world around by means of tactile perception. He or she will want not only to touch the fluffy friend, but also pull, drag to the mouth, embrace, squeeze. If the animal is small — a kitten, a puppy, a mouse, — there is a vast risk that your child can traumatize or even accidentally kill it. To avoid this danger, if you have decided to take a four-legged friend for your child, it is better to take an adult pet. A grown-up animal is able to wriggle if your junior grasps it in a wrong way.
Besides there is another risk that an animal without wanting to harm the child can give traumas. Therefore without fail all communication of your child and your pet should be conducted under your supervision. When you are beside them, they can interact. When you need to leave, it makes sense to take the animal out, for example, to the other room.
When your child is older, approximately from seven till twelve, another challenge appears. If you are concerned about the fact that care for the pet, its feeding, cleaning, upbringing and everything else would become your duty despite all assurances from your child, it is a good idea to take less demanding animal. It can be a rat, a guinea pig, a hamster. On one hand it will give your child certain communication with an animal and teach responsibility — your son or daughter will be able to clean after it, feed it, but in this case it will cost you less effort than you would have with a cat or a dog.
Teenagers are already able to bear full responsibility for a pet, so here you can already take a cat or a dog. Surely you know that jut giving a cat or a dog to a child and demand full accountability is not enough. You should discuss what should be done and how it should be done with your kid. We will talk about this topic a bit later.
2. Where to look for this treasure?
2.1. Buying vs gift vs adoption
If we are talking about giving a pet to a child as a gift, we should think about all pros and cons. To start with — are you 100% sure that your child really wants to have a pet? If he or she just likes playing with small kittens or puppies, it does not mean that he would like to have one as a pet, that he is able to take care about it. It can just mean that your kid likes fluffy and interesting things. You can observe your child to understand it: if he or she reacts positively not only to small animals — kittens and puppies, but also to adult animals, — then it is actually so, your junior truly likes animals. In this case he or she will be truthfully glad to get such present, and will be happy about this present not only for a day, or a week, but for all life of his companion. In any case such present should be thoroughly considered and discussed by whole family, because your family consists not only of your child, and all other members of the family would have to interact with the pet. That is why all family approval is necessary. Only in this case this present will bring joy, smiles, hugs and nose licking.
So, we need to get this present from somewhere. In many films we hear phrases like “Let’s buy a kitten” or “Mom, buy me a puppy”. It is some kind of a stupid stereotype that brings a benefit to pet shops because people are forced to pay money. I find it thoughtless to pay for something that I can get for free.