I am an animal lover. Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was the kid all the neighbors called to take care of their pets when they went away, and we always had animals. When I went off on my own, my roommate gave me a kitten in our “no pets allowed” apartment, and I even got to keep the dog when a relationship ended years later. In fact, I think of that dog as my “first child”. Unfortunately, I had to put him down only a few weeks before I traveled to China to adopt K, and my life has been pretty full with children ever since.
Lately my girls have been laying on the pet guilt pretty thick. K, especially, claims every person she knows has a dog. Or a cat. Or both.
Let’s talk facts here.
- K has been allergy tested – she is allergic to both cats and dogs
- B has not been specifically tested, but does have asthma
- I am completely stressed out with the life we already have and cannot imagine having to take care of an animal. Dogs need to be walked (our yard is far too small to be fenced in). Cats need a litter box and not only do I hate litter boxes, but they are messy and can smell (even when changed frequently). Yet I love cats.
Conclusion: We have no business getting a cat or a dog. At least not right now.
Yet, I do think caring for pets teaches kids so much. Responsibility, empathy, unconditional love, just to name a few.
I told the girls I could handle a fish, but they rejected that, claiming it was too boring. I had hamsters as a 10 year old, but they are nocturnal (noisy!) and keeping up with the cage cleaning was a big job (as I recall).
Any suggestions for a very low maintenance pet that would be acceptable and appropriate for young children?