By: Megan Fischer
Bringing a pet into your family is a big responsibility for everyone. And pet adoption can be a fantastic way to teach the girls in your life about being responsible, compassionate, and more.
I grew up with pets of one kind or another my whole life. My samoyed husky, Ghost, and I were thick as thieves, running around the woods behind my house by day, and me following my faithful dog home when I got lost. Losing him when he was 15 years old was one of the hardest moments in my young life, but I wouldn’t trade all of our fun experiences and everything he taught me for the world.
As an adult, animals are still a big part of my life, if not overtaking it altogether! I adopted an off-the-track Thoroughbred named Charlie, and my three dogs Addie, Chase, and Chip. Our most recent addition adopted us – our barn cat Whiskers moved in and made herself right at home.
All of my animals are a ton of fun, but they are also a lot of work. The knowledge I gained from taking care of Ghost as a girl, as well as family pets that came after him, helped me to see what it really takes to take care of and enrich the lives of the animals in my care. From the fun stuff like playing and cuddling, to the hard work like training, feeding, cleaning, and vet care, animals bring so much to my life. And it didn’t stop there! Through learning responsibility for my pets, I became more dedicated to school, saw the importance of being kind and understanding, and gained independence.
So how can pet adoption have a positive impact the girls in your life?
Joe Kelly, author of Raising Kids with a Pet, says that his family’s first dog, Chump, was like a sibling to his daughters, giving them his love and comfort until the day they had to say goodbye. Even the goodbye had a profound impact, when the girls showed Chump compassion, understanding, and kindness in his final hours.
And whether pet-related or not, all parents know the nails-on-chalkboard feeling of trying to get unwilling kids to do their chores. Responsibilities like feeding, exercising, and even cleaning up after pets can make chores, if not fun, rewarding. Pets give great motivation, because kids can clearly see how these chores make pets happy and content. It can also give them great pride in knowing they they are a big part of caring for another being.
In Getting Past The Chore Wars, Kelly says, “Positive reinforcement is very powerful, so be sure to notice (and acknowledge) when she is respectful, stands up for herself appropriately, thinks of others, and displays the diverse qualities and values that make for a good person.”
Is your family ready for pet adoption? The ASPCA is a great resource to find out! And if you can’t provide a home for a pet right now, it also has a lot of ideas of how you and your kids can get involved without committing to one pet.
P.S. Does your family have a great pet picture and/or pet story?
Megan Fischer is the web editor at NMGMembers.com. Megan is passionate about empowering girls to find their full potential. She lives in Colorado with her husband, 3 dogs, horse, and cat.