My kids want a pet
Like most children my kids would love a pet. Unlike most children they probably won’t get one....if my husband has anything to do with it! He hates the idea of animals living in the house and thinks the house will end up smelling and the kids will end up losing interest and neglecting the pet. To be fair both those scenarios are pretty realistic. I on the other hand want my kids to have the experience of owning and caring for a pet. I think it stems from my own childhood.
My Pet Budgies
As a kid I wanted a pet so badly that I made up elaborate tales at school about having loads of fluffy white pet rabbits that ran around the garden. I wouldn’t say I was a compulsive liar, I just had an overactive imagination! Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Eventually my parents did get us pets in the form of two budgerigars from a man my Dad knew at work who had an aviary. My sister and I were around 9 and 6 years old at the time and were super excited about them at first. We named the green one Pip and the blue one Biffo. Pip belonged to my sister and Biffo was mine. Bizarrely we were both scared stiff of birds, so cleaning the cage was a nightmare and it was always left to me because I was the eldest. We were too afraid to let the budgies out to fly around the house and get a bit of exercise. So the poor things just sat sadly in the cage and ate and pooed. Then one day, not very long after we had gotten them, Pip died. My Dad broke the news to my sister very gently. Her response was “oh right” and then she skipped off to play with her toys. After that we all though Biffo looked a bit lonely (and my parents probably wanted to avert another untimely death) so we gave him back to my Dad’s friend the birdman. I’m sure he was happier flying around in the aviary with his homies.
My youngest sister the animal lover
After the budgie episode our only experience of having a pet was when we went to stay with my Grandma in India who had a adorable little black poodle. But whenever my sister and I asked for another pet my Dad reminded us how we had “killed Pip” and couldn’t be trusted to look after animals properly. I don’t think that was entirely true, maybe it was just Pip’s time? But I couldn’t blame my parents for not wanting to deal with the hassle of another pet....apart from fish which have always been my dad’s pets rather than ours. But then my youngest sister came along. She’s always been an animal lover. I remember her bringing home the school guinea pig one weekend and letting it run around the living room and happily running after it picking up its poo. As she became an adult she’s had a range of pets ranging from cats to rats.
A pet puppy?
Now my kids ask for a pet dog every other day. Even I would love a pet dog. I was in a pet shop the other day and saw the cutest cavapoo puppies and very nearly bought one on the spot. I think a small dog would be a lovely addition to the family. I’ve been doing my research and getting advice from friends and family members who own dogs and I think we could manage it. BUT I know it’s a big commitment, especially for a household that have never owned a pet before.....and a household whose husband/daddy is strongly opposed to the idea!
A starter pet
So I’ve come up with the idea of a starter pet. Something small and fairly easy to look after which is more interesting than fish. These are the ideas I’ve had so far:
I saw the cutest little turtles in a pet shop and the kids and I thought they would make cool pets. They seem easy enough to look after. It’s just the cleaning of the vivarium that would take a lot of time. However, the do grow quite big and I’m not comfortable keeping large turtles in an enclosure which is too small for them...because let’s face it we live in an apartment not a reptile centre! Apparently the River Thames is full of turtles because people kept buying them at the height of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mania and didn’t realise how big they would get! Also I read somewhere they carry salmonella which isn’t great when you’ve got young kids who put their hands in their mouths all the time.
I’ve always loved the idea of keeping pet tortoises, I find them quite interesting and was under the impression they don’t need much looking after. Apparently they do! Ideally they also need some space in the garden (which we don’t have) to walk around in the sun. Some varieties hibernate and you have to get the conditions right otherwise they can die. They are a huge commitment too because, if properly cared for, they can outlive their owners! Also I read they carry salmonella too!
I think snakes are fascinating. But it’s what you have to feed them that puts me off. None of us are keen on keeping dead mice in our freezer!
A few of my Mum friends say that hamsters make the perfect pets for kids because they are cute and furry, don’t take up much space and don’t live very long. The only thing is that I have a phobia of mice and rats and creatures that look similar to them. Realistically I know it will be me who ends up cleaning the cage out so it has to be an animal I’m comfortable handling.
Although they’re not furry and cuddly there is something quite cute about lizards, especially geckos. You have to feed them live insects which I wouldn’t mind handling and neither would the kids (the idea is that I train them to care for the pet themselves).
Teaching kids responsibility
I’ve come to the conclusion that leopard geckos would make a good starter pet. I like the idea of the kids learning how to be responsible and care for a pet. And even if I’m the one left looking after it, I would be ok with that.
In my heart I know I still want a pet pooch, and so do the kids, but I’ll give it a few years and see how we feel, and more importantly if we can convince my husband!
I’d love any pet owners reading this to give me their opinion on what would make a good pet for kids. And to talk me out of/in to buying a dog!