Growing up, we were a dog family. The dog belonged to the entire family though various dogs had their favorite family members. At various points in time, we also had goldfish, chameleons, box turtles and gerbils. Looking back now, I have no idea how my mom did it.
When I married into my family (my husband and his two kids), I had two dogs. Unfortunately, that transition proved to be too much for one of them and I had to find my sweet baby girl, Gracie Belle, a new family without any young kids (which is a blog post for another day). The other dog, Presley, is my ever faithful companion who has weathered every storm we’ve been through with grace and adaptability. Our kids adore him. My baby learned to say “no no” and wave his hands at him before really saying anything else. After he got tubes, one of the first things he learned to say with his new hearing was “Hes – ley” in the same singsong tone that I catch myself saying on a daily basis.
The kids love animals and are constantly asking for a fish or a reptile or a rodent or cat or another dog. My oldest two live with us part time and part time at their Mom’s in an adjacent city. In my opinion, whoever wants the pet bears the brunt of the responsibility of taking care of it. And since we they are only at our house one night a week and every other weekend, that would leave a lot of the care for another animal to my husband or myself so they always get told, “you aren’t here enough to take care of it.”
The thought of cleaning a fish tank grosses me out; the smell of reptiles makes me want to run straight to the nearest bathroom and the dust created by rodent habitats just makes my entire body shiver in disgust. I want no part of any of it. I would actually be open to the thought of getting another dog but my husband is pretty firm on the one dog at a time rule. And I can’t blame him. Two dogs in a house plus our three kids can make for a whole lot of crazy and mess. Plus we probably don’t give the one dog we have the time and attention that he needs.
However, we do have a 2-year-old son who will be asking these same questions when he gets to be elementary school aged and we aren’t going to be able to pass off the pet decision to his mom because I am his mom! Currently our plan for determining if it’s the right time to get another pet is the following:
- Does he really want it? Is he asking about it everyday? Has he come up with solutions for all of my “what if” questions regarding its care and maintenance?
- Has he researched this particular type of pet and knows how much it will cost, what supplies we need and how much work it will take?
- Is he responsible/mature enough to take care of this pet every day? Does he do all of his chores asked of him? Does he take care of our dog and remember to feed and pick up after him in the yard?
I want him to save up his own money to buy the pet, know what goes into taking care of it and be old enough to do most of this own his own with minimal help from me. And if I can hold him off long enough, maybe I’ll just suggest that he gets a part time job at a local pet shop instead of bringing the pet home to our house!