I was lying down in bed trying to sleep, but I couldn’t. Something was worrying me so much. I was feeling sorry for my dog. I bought it for my three children because they have been asking for one for a long time. The decision to buy a dog wasn’t spontaneous. We talked through about everything dogs require: feeding, walking, playing. I delayed making a decision for 3 years. All my children kept insisting in buying a dog. They seemed to be very happy to share responsibilities involving good dog care if I were to buy one. So I did.
We, parents who ever bought a pet for the child, know how it all starts. Children are fighting for chore. However, years or even months later, joy of having a pet becomes a routine, an unwanted routine. No one wants to get up early in the morning to take a dog for a walk. Girls are busy playing dolls, boys are in front of laptops or game boxes… No time for a dog. The dog becomes parent’s responsibility. We say: “Hold on a second. I didn’t buy a dog for myself. I didn’t need a dog”. You end up online, asking Google: “we don’t need our dog anymore.”
Well, someone had already asked this question before you too. You end up in a chat reading a lot of angry comments from responsible dog lovers.
Deep inside you agree, they are right. The dog is for life. It is like your child.
And it is your child! You love it! But it doesn’t exclude the fact, that you didn’t buy a dog for yourself. You have too many responsibilities: to care for children, to work! You simply don’t have a spare minute for yourself, not talking about your dog! You need advice, on how to move on with everything, but all you hear are critics and patronising talks about what kind of example you would show your children if you were to rehome your pet.
Here it is. Take this advice!
- Don’t criticise yourself! You need to be in harmony with yourself! Humans tend to overestimate what they can do and what they can’t. At the end of the day, all you want for your pet is a better future, a better life, a loving and caring family.
- I agree with the saying: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Our children are like us. If you are searching Google looking for advice on how to move on with the situation you are in, it already means you feel responsible for your dog; your children would feel the same if they understood the situation as grownups do.
- Speak to your children about how you feel. Explain your children how your dog feels.
I did it in the morning during breakfast. I said: “Guys, do you know, our dog used to have mummy and daddy? We took him away from them. We wanted him! So, we are his family now! He now loves us and he wants to be with us. He feels sad when you don’t play with him. He can’t even explain to you how he feels, because he can’t talk. It is so sad to see our dog, who you all wanted so much two years ago, feeling and looking so lonely.”
What surprised me, was my children didn’t even understand, that our doggy was feeling lonely, that he needed more attention.
I suddenly realised, that all these articles advising you to get a pet so that your children become more responsible are not giving a practical advice or experience on how they can become responsible.
Everyone just says: “once you buy a pet, it’s for lifetime!”
We agree to that when we buy a pet, but hold on a second, have a look how many people want to rehome their pets! I am sure they all thought they were buying a pet for lifetime.
We live and learn.
I realised, that responsibility doesn’t evolve inside your child by itself when you buy a dog. You need to teach children to feel and to be responsible and caring. Excitement of getting a new pet goes away. And we are left with a pet at home.
Since our last conversation with my children about our doggy I notices they ask me more often if they play with our dog enough, if he needs extra attention or extra walking. Something changed. They seem more caring and our dog stopped walking after me asking for attention. It is now how it should be: kids are responsible for the dog and I feel cool that way.
Try sharing a pet first before buying. You don’t have to own a pet to give them your love or to be loved by them. Children will be looking forward to meet the pet every time you host it and caring after a pet will never become an unwanted routine.
Sharing pets is a new way of looking at things. Two owners can give more love to one pet, than just one.