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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Young Hearts to the Rescue: 9 Ways Kids Benefit From Adopting a Pet

Photo by Mosman Council (Flickr)

Are you a dog person, cat person, or every creature person? If you've had pets, you know how fulfilling it is to love and be loved by an animal. Through their adoration and zany antics, they earn everlasting places in our hearts and families. Whether it's a peppy puppy or a mellow senior cat, there's so much joy to give and receive in pet-human relationships. All of my pets have been rescue animals, and I urge you to consider adopting too. I find that the biggest, warmest souls are just waiting to be freed from those kennels. I know it's trite, but the bumper stickers that say "Who saved who?" are quite accurate!

I had dogs, cats, and even a surly parrot named Bebop while I was growing up. After I had my first daughter, I wanted her to experience the delight and responsibility of having a pet. Currently, we have two small mixed breed pups that are feisty bundles of joy! My girls wildly adore them, but I also make sure that they have a vital role in caretaking and cleaning. We also continue to volunteer at the shelter where we rescued them from. It's been such an enriching experience for everyone.

While I know it's not a decision to be taken lightly, I do hope you consider it with your family. Here are nine ways that kids can benefit from adopting a pet:

  1. Learning Responsibility: Inviting a pet into the home is exciting, but with great love often comes great responsibility. By giving your kids a share of the caretaking duties, they build accountability. Be mindful of your child's actions, and strive to be a shining example of responsibility and compassion!
  2. Teaching Compassion: Onwards to compassion! The friendship between a child and a pet is truly magical and uplifting. They learn to love unconditionally and be loved unconditionally. It opens their heart to non-human creatures and helps them become comfortable with being relied upon. Also, when you rescue a pet, they may be timid or mistrustful at first; this offers a valuable lesson in patience and empathy for your kids.
  3. A Healthy Balance: Some rescue pets, especially senior sweethearts, will be more well-trained and patient, and this can provide a healthy balance for your kids. When they're bouncing off the walls, a warm, mellow pet can coax them to cuddle up and unwind.
  4. Paws-on Learning: Adopting a pet opens a whole new world of questions. Why are dogs different than cats? Why are there so many different breeds of dogs? This gives you an opportunity for fun, playful learning!
  5. Empathy Builds: As much as we might wish for it, pets don't speak our language! However, that doesn't limit their endearing ways of communication. Children build empathy by feeling and responding to these cues, tending to pet's needs, and soothing their anxieties. Through the adoption process, they will also learn how and why dogs end up shelters. When handled tenderly but honestly, this can empower them to strive for change.
  6. Walk the Dog: There are plenty of health benefits to adopting a pet. They lower blood pressure, encourage us to go outside, walk more, and love to play! We go hiking with our little dogs; their excitement puts more pep in our step! Pet owners who are 65 and older will typically have 30% fewer doctor visits than those without a pet. Plus, kids who grow up with pets develop fewer allergies and build stronger immune systems.
  7. Wagging Tails, Happy Hearts: Studies have shown that those who have pets are less likely to suffer from depression than those who don't. A few minutes of petting a pup or watching fish swim lowers cortisol, a hormone that triggers stress. This goes beyond just cats or dogs. If those animals don't tickle your fancy, there's lots of other options. Which pet is right for you?
  8. New Tricks, Old Tricks: Rather than seeking out a purebred pet from a breeder, adopting a rescue pet will help your kids appreciate what they have. They'll fall in love with all the quirks of their newfound friend, cultivating patience as they adapt to their habits and grow into the dynamic.
  9. Let's Play! Pets are playful, curious, and hungry to explore all the scents, sounds, and flavors of life! This effortless enthusiasm is contagious! By having an animal, your children will play more, worry less, and enjoy having a lively companion on all of their adventures!

Have you adopted a pet? What blessings have they bestowed upon you and your kids? We'd love to hear your stories and see pictures, so please drop us a comment in the section below!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

1 comment:

  1. You certainly proved that children need pets. Loved your article, Kim.