I just have to start off this post by saying that I am not an animal person. I don’t like to touch them, I don’t like to smell them, and I don’t like to take care of them.
But my children, on the other hand, adore animals. They have been asking for a dog, or snake, or parrot, for quite a while. And I almost give in every time I see a picture of a cute little puppy on Facebook that someone is trying to find a home for. But then I remember that they take just as much work as a newborn baby–maybe even more! Plus my husband reels me in every time I go off the deep end and send him 50 text messages about how we just have to have this cute puppy so-and-so is giving away. (Thank you babe!)
Even so, I am seriously starting to reconsider my anti-animal stance.
A couple weeks ago, we took a trip to my husband’s home town for the rodeo. This is actually the 3rd post in that series–“What I Learned from a Small Town Vacation.” You can click to read the other posts about Patriotism and Purity if you haven’t already.
During this trip, we spent quite a lot of time at his cousin’s house. They have at least an acre, with every kind of animal you can think of. Rabbits, goats, chickens, a dog. While we were there, my children had so much fun playing with them.
They got to milk a mommy goat and then bottle feed a one week old goat. The mom didn’t want the baby because it was born premature and sickly, so they nursed it back to health and then had to bottle feed it. It was so cute watching my children dote over it and carry it around.
And then there were the rabbits. At one point, one of the rabbits got loose and got into the goat and chicken area, and my son took it upon himself to get it back to where it belonged.
Next fall, I am seriously considering letting my son sign up for 4H and raising a rabbit for fair. Here are the reasons why:
1) Animals teach responsibility– They need to be fed, cleaned, and exercised daily. This is in fact the #1 reason why I have not wanted to get an animal for them before now. But my son will be 7 next week, and I think it is time for him to learn how to be responsible for something. I’m still thinking something very small at first, like a rabbit. And a rabbit will also be temporary since we will sell it at fair. So we can think of it like a trial run.
2) Animals teach caring– This is very similar to the first point, but on a more emotional level. An animal needs someone to care for it everyday, even if you don’t feel like it. It will teach my children to put another creatures needs above their own. I think in this day and age, everyone could use a lesson in being less selfish.
3) Animals are fun– I think this is what most people think of when they consider getting a pet. The cuteness and fun factor often outweigh the logical planning, which is why animal shelters are filled with so many unwanted pets. This is why this is the third on my list, but it is also worth considering. I know of people who’s animals have been loved like a part of their family. (I can’t foresee that happening for me, but maybe for my children.)
I’m still going to have a few months to consider before it is time to make a commitment in fall. I’d love to hear your thoughts on animals and children in the comments.