Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pets: “Mommy, please, please, please?” (Elementary-Teenager)

I am sure you have heard this phrase a thousand times when you walk into a pet store.  Children are attracted to animals.  They love the idea of having something of their own and something that will love them back.  Some of my favorite childhood memories have been from family pets and pets that were all mine.  Pets can add much joy to a family while adding character to your children.  There are pets that are a lot of work, pets that weren’t supposed to be a lot of work, and pets that fit in just right with your family.  When do you know that a pet is the right choice?  What pet should you get?  Is your child really going to take care of this animal?  After a history of various critters at the Hinton house, here is some advice:

I am going to list the common pets we have had since we became a family.  I am listing them from least difficult to most difficult.  I have never had a child follow through with taking care of an animal.  It always fell to me eventually or at least the job of reminding, a.k.a. nagging, the child to take care of the animal.  So keep this in mind when you make your selection. 

Fish- They don’t smell and they are easy to take care of.  They are also easy to leave for the weekend.  If you start with goldfish, you don’t need to heat the tank and they are pretty hardy.  We had one gold fish that lasted almost three years.  We had to have a funeral for him.  He was quite the character and would “beg” for food by smacking his lips on the top of the water when you walked by his tank. 

Guinea Pigs- These have more of an odor, but this is easily remedied by putting a special solution in their water bottle.  You can purchase this at a pet store.  Guinea pigs do not usually bite, unless you put your finger right up to their mouth and they think it is food.  They will whistle and “talk” to you.  They are very social by nature.  Males tend to make better pets than females.   You will have to clean the cage once a week and get your little friend out once a day to cuddle for a bit. It is not that hard to find someone to watch them when you travel, and sometimes it is possible to take them with you.

Cats- A kitten is a delightful creature.  You usually don’t have to potty train them as they know what a litter box is the moment they see it.  They are independent and don’t need bathing or brushing.  They like to cuddle and enjoy lots of petting.  They chase laser lights and balls around the house.  Cleaning up the litter box and living with some furniture damage from the scratching is probably all of the hassles you will face with a cat. For weekends away, you will have to find someone to watch the feline for you.  Remember to neuter or spay your cat.

Dog- A dog is a pretty big commitment.  They are an animal that will bond with you more than the above mentioned, but they are almost like adding another child to your family.   They need to be groomed, walked, and played with everyday.  When you don’t do these things, then you get all of the nasty behaviors like excessive chewing, running away, aggressiveness, eliminating in the house, and destruction of your property.  If you grew up with dogs, you have some idea of the responsibility.  However, if you did not, do some research to find the best breed for your activity level, and choose accordingly.  It may save you a lot of headache.  Remember to neuter or spay your dog.

Having a pet is wonderful.  Just remember to get the right pet, so you are not overwhelmed.  You already have a lot of responsibilities being a mother.  Make sure that it is something you want too and not just a whim your children are going through.  Do your research and find out what you can realistically commit too.  Not only will your kids thank you, but your new animal friend will too.

What advice would you give a mom looking for a pet? 

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