Tuesday, 03 November 2009
When I was about four years old my mother bought me my very own pet goldfish. I thought Sarah (I named everything Sarah in those days) was the best thing in the whole wide world. I wanted Sarah and me to be the best of friends and to do everything together! One afternoon my mom caught me taking Sarah out of her comfortable fishbowl so that I could pet her and needless to say mom started to yell, trying desperately to explain that Sarah needed to be in water at all times. This knowledge crushed me, how were Sarah and I to be best friends and do everything together if I were not able to take her out of water at least from time to time?
My mom, an animal lover herself, could see my passion for them as well and wanted me to have a pet I could interact with more than I could with Sarah. Being allergic to both dogs and cats however limited our options a bit. Back then we had not learned of hypoallergenic dogs but boy was I ecstatic when we did. Anyway, the next best pet for me my mom decided was a hamster.
One Sunday my mom scooped me up in her arms and told me she had a surprise for me just a car ride away. I could barely contain my excitement wondering where on earth we could be going and was even more excited once we walked into a pet store! With my face pressed up against the glass of the hamster cage I begged to take home not one but two pet hamsters. My mom eventually gave in and we brought my two new friends home.
As my mom began to unlock the front door, me following behind with my new friends I noticed something strange going on and began to scream. I tried frantically to explain that one of them was must sick but as my mom peered into the box she simply began to laugh.
Turns out the hamster was just fine, she was giving birth not sick! Apparently, the salesman at the pet store was wrong when he informed us that both hamsters were males. My hamsters continued to procreate like bunnies for the next couple of years. I helped to take care of them, making sure the cage was clean and that they had enough food and water. Every time we had a new litter of hamsters my mom would take me to the pet store where I would sell the babies back or exchange them for supplies my two parent hamsters needed.
Having hamsters as a child taught me a great deal of responsibility. Though parents need to be on board with the whole pet thing, as children need lots of help with caring for their pets, I think almost every family should have some type of pet, even if it is just a fish. By owning a pet your child will learn how to take care of another living creature as well as learn compassion towards animals. They will also learn about the life-cycle (maybe not all of you will actually get to witness the birthing process) but it is inevitable that the pet will die and though tragic this is a great way to explain about life and death to a child if they are old enough to understand.
What pets have you found are best for children and how have gotten them to take responsibility for the pet?