I was chatting with one of my mums today and she was telling me her children have been asking for a pet - she has five children at different ages and they all want a different pet.
She was telling me she was wondering what to do, what to get, personally 'I thought your house is busy enough!'
But, this mum is super organised and her children are lovely so why not - which is basically what she thought.
The only problem was choosing the ‘right’ pet or pets!
She was prepared to have a few (I did say she was super organised!).
Mum knew all the benefits pets can bring to our children’s lives and development; care of another, respect for animals, learning about how they grow, how to look after them when they are well and sick or old too. About love, affection, dedication and putting someone’s needs above your own (just to name a few!).
We had a great conversation, and this led to my article for this week, what pet should we get?
Of course, a pet has to suit your child’s age, your family, your home, your garden, your lifestyle, pets have to fit into our lives, be part of our lives. As my son says, about our dog, ‘a dog is part of our life, but for our dog we are all her life.
From large to small and somewhere in between, from hairy to smooth, from puppies to young dogs or even older dogs. Dogs do take time; time to train, to play with, to walk, to clean up after. You simply cannot expect a puppy to become a happy, sociable loving pet if he’s stuck out in the garden all day, only coming in to be told, he’s too excited so take him out again!
And don’t forget the dog hair (everywhere) or the grooming, as well as flea and worm treatments, vaccinations etc. Phew, starting to wonder why I have a dog now! But then you get the licks, the always happy to see you, the cuddle on your knee, the doggy smiles as they run through the park, the smiles to ourselves as we tell the dog off and the child climbs into its basket to give it a cuddle. The bond between a dog and his child is quite simply magical.
So, onto cats…
Again lots to choose from, less time to train, litter trays to clean (yeuch!) if they are house cats. Dead mice at the door and if they come in or out as they please do you want or need a cat flap in your new back door? Just as much hair and they still need flea treatments etc, plus they have a tendency to scratch the furniture (my chairs are evidence of this from years ago!). But the peace as you stroke a cat is so soothing, for a child who worries, who gets stressed maybe this is the perfect pet for them, or maybe for you?
Getting smaller… rabbit
When my son was about ten years old we thought of getting a rabbit, best to get two as they do like the company of other rabbits. But again, they still need the grooming, the vet treatments, the time to train them as well as a big hutch and room to play and of course they need the children! too - rabbits only become sociable and happy if they are played with, interacted with throughout each and every day.
Failure to do this leads to a grumpy rabbit who doesn’t like the kids! That’s not to say I don’t like rabbits, but when the man in the pet shop said they live for approximately eight to 12 years, my son was ten, I thought I really cannot see him sitting in a rabbit den at eighteen years old playing with his rabbit!
Smaller again, gerbils, hamsters, rats and other furry creatures…
Yes, they are soooo cute, can be sooo friendly, some like to be held and run about you (my son loved his hamster!) but get more than two and be ready for the babies (yes we had hamsters and hamster babies that everyone in school ended up getting!). Being in a cage means they can be easier to clean (hamsters and gerbils will even learn to wee in an empty jam jar), but who will clean them?
Of course you may have vet bills too but these won’t be as costly as the dog or cat. But think, where will the cage live, do get a big cage, or maybe a big glass fish tank - our gerbils loved their tank filled with soil to dig and make tunnels in!
Going very big… what about a pony or a horse
Yes, fab to ride, amazing to say I have a pony BUT it can’t really live in the garden (so stable fees) and definitely can’t snuggle up on your knee! There’s still vet fees as well as blacksmith horse shoe fees, your child may also need riding clothes, saddle and then want to enter into horsey competitions … sounds like a lot of running about and my purse is getting lighter, just thinking about it!
Spiders… lizards and all exotic creatures …
Look amazing, can be handled if the children are taught how, can live in a cage, don’t need walks or grooming but some need live food - crickets, baby mice etc - can you cope with having frozen mice in your freezer?
More in a tank … fish…
Fish are beautiful, but be warned goldfish grow (we started with a little 10 litre tank, I’m now on a 100 litre tank for the same fish, he’s nearly ten and I WILL be needing a new tank again soon! Tropical fish have the most amazing colours, are striking to see, you can have the most amazing tank BUT it comes at a cost, they are expensive, hard to keep, need special water and special light. But they are relaxing to watch, but not to clean out - their tanks need cleaning too!
Ducks, sounds crazy…
We had ducks when I was little and I dream of having two for me, in my garden again.Yes, you get duck eggs, yes they are cute, yes they will come if you call them BUT they poo everywhere, their bath (and they do need a big water pond/bath in the garden) makes the garden soggy, is this the right pet for your family?
Never had one, think they might be messy too - but you can check this one out!
Well, other options, maybe cheaper, maybe less bother, could be an idea, try sea monkeys (£10.00 for the tank, the eggs and they only grow to 2cm!), or use the old fish tank and make an ant farm, or maybe sponsor a tiger, an elephant, whatever you like - no mess involved! Or if you really want a pet that lasts a life time, why not a pet tortoise, they can live for between fifty and one hundred years - so a pet for the children today and their children tomorrow!
Off to walk my dog, cleaned my fish yesterday! Have a great week, Jenni x
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