Our pet parents are grateful when they see the best in us. We wag our tails as we listen to them tell the other pet parents on our walks just how smart, cute, agile and comforting we are. Sometimes though, they laugh when they talk about the worst of our behavior rather than the best that they see in us pets.
With both parents in a household working, it is difficult to add a pet to the family. Other pets may be easier to maintain than we dogs are because they don’t require the outside exercise. Children who love pets are discouraged from having a dog of their own for these reasons so I adopt children without pets. I want them to learn about the best side of pet companionship.
I first locate grandparents in my neighborhood that have visiting grandkids. Then I make myself look like a big stuffed animal and wear my brightest smile. This little boy has no fear of me so I cuddle up to him. He met me when he was just a baby. By then, his big sister had gotten over most of her fear of me. In fact, she introduced him to me.
His sister decided that she wanted to be in the picture with both of us. However, you can see that she is still a little bit reserved around me. As she leans to the right, I stay near my adopted boy. I also lay my ears close to my head around her so I look more like a friendly puppy. These children keep me socialized and I keep them well-adjusted so that they learn how to behave around dogs.
Wise parents who are not able to welcome pets into their homes take their children to places where friendly dogs hang out…like dog shows and dog parks…or just around the neighborhood. The many “no dogs allowed” signs at public parks and playgrounds keep us off limits to the children playing there…something about doggie poo.
I was a Thanksgiving Day gift (you can read my story in The Gratitude Book Project:Best of Pets). Some shelters around the nation are promoting a program whereby families can take a pet home over the holidays and then return the pet to the shelter after the holidays. This allows the pets to be in a family atmosphere and gives the shelter workers and volunteers a break. It also allows families to see how well a pet will fit (or not) into their family. Although the pets may like the break, I doubt that they will appreciate being returned to the shelter atmosphere.
Responsible dog breeders do not advertise “Christmas puppies” for sale. They want their puppies to go to a forever home rather than be an impulse gift to please the momentary whims of children during the holidays. This can be a stressful time for everyone rather than the ideal time to bring a peeing, pooping, whining puppy into the house. Of course, puppies only behave this way because their needs are not being met…too many other toys on hand to play with during the holidays. Households are unlikely to see the Best of Pets unless they have been brought up responsibly.
So my words of wisdom to parents of children that would like to be grateful for the best of pets this holiday season, are to buy a stuffed animal for your children with a gift card attached containing a promise for the future. For a present of the best of pets now, buy The Gratitude Book Project:
Best of Pets
for children of all ages. I highly recommend it. The profits from the book will benefit the ASPCA.
Living in the moment,
Pet Companion to animal lover Amelia Johnson
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