Thursday, September 17, 2009
By Anna Lee
There are many people who do not want the responsibility of a dog or a cat, no matter how many times their children beg for one. When you bring a dog or cat into your home it is a huge commitment. Cats are a little easier to deal with, but they still require time, energy and love. A dog takes even more time, and typically, more money. If you’re not ready to add a dog or cat to your family, maybe you can slide by with a goldfish, or perhaps a hamster?
If you lead the type of life that would not allow you to take care of a dog in the proper way, then please do not get a dog because the kids want one. No matter how much they plead and cry it is a bad idea. I think it is very sad when the family gets a puppy and the poor dog is home alone in a crate all day with little to no attention. Then the pup spends most of the evening in a crate while the family is off running errands and attending sporting events.
So if you’ve told your children that there’s no way right now a dog or cat would fit in with your lifestyle, but they keep asking, maybe it’s time for a different approach. You need to instill in them that dogs and cats have many needs. They need to be fed, they need water, they need you to play with them, they need you to make sure they are healthy and have checkups at the vet. The list goes on and on.
Now is the time to say that perhaps in a year or so the family might be in a better position to get a dog. Try to explain what their responsibilities will be when that time comes. Suggest that they work their way up to a dog in stages. If they can prove to be a responsible pet owner with a smaller animal such as a fish or hamster, then you will consider getting a dog.
Suggest that each child can pick out one or two goldfish at the local pet store. Take the kids with you for the purchase, and let them help you pick out a nice size bowl and the accessories. Then approach the large fish tanks and let them each choose the fish. The movement and color will fascinate the kids and hopefully get them interested in having a goldfish as a pet.
Make a big deal out of picking out the fish. The more you play it up the easier it will be for them to accept. Have the salesperson at the store explain to all of you how to care for the fish, and emphasize that they should not overfeed the fish, that the water needs to changed and that they need to pick out names for their fish.
Fish not your thing? Maybe a furry little hamster would do. You can buy a nice big cage and all the accessories and watch the critter run around and play for hours. Hamsters love exercise wheels and can stay inside a wheel for hours on end. You just need to make sure you (or your children) clean the cage weekly and feed it the appropriate food. Pet stores sell hamster food and all the supplies you need. Again, let the store employee give the kids the run down on what is required to take care of a hamster.
A goldfish or a hamster will probably not put an end to your child’s desire to have a dog or a cat. However, these low maintenance pets can be a stepping stone in the learning curve of responsible pet ownership.
Read more articles by Anna Lee