I never had pets growing up. I think my parents had their hands full just managing us three sisters.
We got our first pet, a tiny puppy when I was in college. He sadly died within a week. We were all heartbroken. For a long time after that, none of us had the heart to get another dog till one just pawed itself into our lives.
We called her April, and we all loved her. Soon, another 4-legged moppet just meowed herself into our home. We loved having them around. They made you feel extra special just by choosing to snuggle next to you. Moreover, the combination of having a dog and a cat co-exist never failed to get a surprised reaction from outsiders.
Over the years, they have given us company or a hug whenever we needed them. They have loved and trusted us without reservations. When they passed over the rainbow bridge, we felt their loss. Our only consolation being they lived a good full life.
Babies: Human vs Furry
When I got married and moved away, more than human babies, I had wanted fur babies. A dog (Rummy) and kitten (Bing) sauntered into our lives just when we needed them the most.
Many ‘well-wishers’ would inquire what would happen to them once we decided to have our own babies. Someone told me of a couple who had been trying for a long time to have babies then eventually got a dog. But soon after, they got pregnant and, even before the baby was born, decided to give up the pup! I was shocked. How cruel!
Our pets were here to stay!
Co-existing at home
By the time our son was born, our pets were middle-aged. They were not rumbunctious teens. They also preferred their quiet time and a screaming baby was not what they had signed up for. During the first few months, the pets would literally leave the room when our son was awake!
The cat couldn’t be bothered with this new person in the house. He preferred to stay away. Our dog was curious at first but then stayed away too. Then came the mobility months.
Once our baby started crawling, he wouldn’t leave the pets alone. They did not enjoy it. We had to constantly monitor them to ensure they don’t hurt each other. Because our older pets weren’t very playful, our son eventually found other ways to entertain himself.
We had to be watchful when our son would run around the house. Our dog, an inherently scared Pomeranian mix, would get nervous at the sudden movements and snap at his heels. Never hard, just to keep our son away.
We could not ask the dog to stop being scared, nor could we ask our son to stop being a kid. However, we could train our son to not jump around the dog. Problem solved. That still didn’t mean they could be left unattended.
My son is now five, and we have all gotten used to each other’s likes and dislikes. We co-exist with less friction. He is more of a cat person, even though our cat is not a kid person. Although, once in a while, he will go snuggle with my son, and my son’s face will light up with joy.
Growing up with pets
Growing up with pets has been proven to increase a child’s immunity. Apart from that, it also teaches them to respect personal space and boundaries set by others.
We have delegated the work of keeping the pets’ food and water bowls full to our son. Once in a while, he’ll even clean out the litter box. It’s a great way to practice responsibility.
Once the pets and kids get used to each other, they also provide each other with much-needed company and entertainment.
To be or Not to be (a pet parent)
Raising a pet is not for everybody. Even those who like animals might choose not to raise one of their own (holds true for human babies as well). My sisters, in different parts of the world, couldn’t commit to a pet. Instead, they volunteered at the local animal shelter whenever they could.
I don’t understand how people can treat pets as disposable objects. What does it say about your qualifications as a parent?
There are times when you feel like there are no options but to abandon a pet. An aggressive animal can be unpredictable and dangerous, even with constant supervision around a baby. When all training fails, it is the only option left for some.
Rehoming them to a house with people who can handle them or dropping them off at a local shelter are more human ways instead of abandoning them on the street. Pets cannot fend for themselves, and an aggressive dog on the streets poses a threat to unsuspecting passersby.
Before you think of getting a pet, first ask yourself why you want one? Is it a passing fancy or a status symbol? Remember it is a commitment for at least 10 to 15 years. Are you up for it?