Why your daughter might need a pet

February 7, 2012 in pets for kids

In the last seven years, I’ve made a habit of avoiding pets. Until recently.

I don’t like dogs. They tend to stink, lick, follow me around, get hair on clothes, and they have to be let outside at 5 am. I know your dog is the exception. I am happy for you. But I still don’t like dogs. I like cats. But I would never own a cat. They are too unpredictable plus the number of people with cat allergies is too high. I love parrots. But they are too expensive, too loud, and tend to poop wherever they want. And the number of people who are terrified of birds is alarmingly high. (Though as a parrot-lover it is hard not to laugh when a 6’4” man hits the floor when your bird flies to your shoulder and even harder not to laugh when he lands on a bald man’s head and promptly poops….horrifying but funny).

When my husband went to grad school and we had to get rid of our pet bird, I was sad. But secretly, I was relieved. Less responsibilities was a good idea with a baby and a 2-year-old.

During one summer in a Honduras, my then 8-year-old got to care for a puppy for the five weeks of our stay. Dear little Copper only confirmed for my husband and I that a pet would not make our family complete. Plus my daughter’s pain was so strong when we had to leave the puppy behind to return home.

Then memory struck. I was allergic to dogs and cats growing up. Somewhere around fifth or sixth grade my parents gave in, I could have a bird. A sweet cockatiel name Bing. In the lonely, chaotic years of middle school, that bird was my therapy and lifeline. When no one else understood or liked me, that bird adored me. He showered with me, ate with me, snuggled me, and would fly to me when I whistled for him. His enthusiasm when I returned home from school was extreme and dependable.

So this isn’t a cockatiel, but my first bird was 
before digitalphotos. I’ve owned one like this. 

And you know how parents assume kids won’t really care for their pets? I did. Weekly, I  cleaned his cage(which was pretty gross) and daily, I feed and watered him. So I learned a bit of responsibility too.

Sweet Bing died young at only 3 but his life expectancy should have been closer to 15. My little 8th grade heart broke and leaked torrents of tears for days. But, the lose did not eclipse the joy of having the friend.

And as I pondered my pet aversion and these memories, I began to wonder if maybe we should find a pet.  A pet would be cheaper than therapy. And as my daugther says, we are so weird (translation we don’t buy many electronic devices) maybe a pet would something we could get that didn’t have addicting side effects. But what kind of animal? And how to convince my husband who rightly argued that we travel too much to own pets?

Come back tomorrow for part 2…How we went from no pets to three, in five months.

Photo credits:
All images used with permission. 
Cat: ShivaPrasad Madaiah
Dog: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Bird: Just2shutter

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