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Friday, May 26, 2017

Kids and Pets

Written by  Rev. Kelly Crenshaw
Cassandra and Joy Cassandra and Joy

When I was little, my parents took a picture of me with my best buddy. She was lying on the floor and I was seated next to her. She was my playmate and my protector. She was our family dog. Over the years, my parents told stories of how she would guard me whenever anyone came to the house. She never growled or became aggressive, but she made it very clear that I was her baby.

My parents raised Boxers for decades. And, as I grew older, I added part of their care to my list of household responsibilities. When I was around five of so, my mom included “feed the dogs” on my chore chart. However, since reading wasn’t my best skill at five, she drew pictures to make it clearer to me. I was thrilled with this new chore. That was until I realized that what I thought was a horse was actually a drawing of a dog.

I think pets are good for kids. They can learn responsibility and compassion. They can have a playmate when no one else wants to play.

Our 18-month-old, Cassandra has found a best friend in our dog, Joy. From the time Cassandra was old enough to pull up and attempt to walk, Joy has been her bestie. For several months, Cassa used Joy as a baby walker, holding on while Joy walked across the room. She struggled to keep up, but eventually learned to walk and then run, thanks to our dog. Cassa can pull on her fur, pet with a really heavy hand, or just hug her, and Joy is in heaven. Cassa even eats her meals by taking one bite for herself and giving one bite to the dog.

For some of my friends, pets are a nuisance. They’re dirty. They smell. They cost too much. They require too much attention. I get it. And, if you aren’t a pet person, I can see where those pet qualities might not be attractive.

But, for my kids, pets have won the day. Over the years, we’ve had dogs, cats, horses, a hummingbird, all varieties of fish, hamsters, lizards, and who knows what else. The kids may not always rise to the occasion and take care of the pets the way they should, but with a little direction, they usually do just fine.

So, give your kids the opportunity to nurture a pet, sharing the love they receive with someone else. It will help make them into more emotionally secure adults one day. Just wait and see.

Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, two biological kids, guardian of one baby girl and foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She is co-owner of a counseling agency that works with children and their families. Send your parenting questions to her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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