My Real Life

July 17, 2013

Practice Pets

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 6:00 am

My kids are dying for a pet.

We aren’t getting a pet.

I don’t even keep houseplants because with four kids in the house, I don’t feel like I really need something else to feed and take care of.

The only pet I really actually want is a dog, but Real Man has put the kibosh on that one because he remembers the six years we had our old dog and the late night and winter walks that were always delegated to him.

So, (for now), no pets.

However, one of my kids favorite times of year is when their cousins go on vacation and we get to take care of their pets.

For almost two weeks, my kids get to pretend like they have a hermit crab and a hamster.

And they love it.

They take their cousins handwritten notes very seriously.


At night, they spray the hermit crab, rewet his sponge and make sure everything is in order.

And the hamster?

Forget it.

Tiny is obsessed with the poor thing.

Even if he wasn’t already, I think Tiny would turn him into a nocturnal animal by yelling “Hi Nibbles!  Hi! What you doin’, Nibbles? You runnin’ in your wheel?  You eatin’, Nibbles?  Hi Nibbles!” at the highest possible decibel, right outside his cage.


(You’ll notice you can’t see Nibbles in this picture.  I believe it’s because he’s hiding from Tiny.)

However, even with the hamster, the kids are super responsible.

Making sure he seems happy and comfortable, switching out the wheel for his climbing house so he doesn’t get bored.

I said at the beginning of this post that we aren’t getting a pet, however, if I’m honest, I think pets are a great way to teach responsibility and empathy in children, and every time we watch our cousins pets, I’m reminded of this and impressed with how well the monkeys do.

It’s hard to know, however, if it’s the novelty of the pet and if once that wore off it would be Mommy who was feeding and cleaning and caring for the pet(s) to keep them alive and healthy.

Because, let’s be honest.  Eventually, our cousins came home and we gave the pets back and really, anyone can be responsible for two weeks.  It’s the long haul that is the concern.

I don’t know.  It’s something to consider, for sure.

I’d love to have those of you with children and pets chime in, here.  Worth it?  Do the kids step up, or does it all fall to Mom?


  1. Nope. They don’t. So don’t commit if YOU aren’t willing to put the time in.

    After losing Molly after 15 1/2 years, I long (seriously ACHE) for another dog. We replaced her with a 4 month old kitten and are still enjoying Maddie’s antics after 2 years – and Kitty’s intolerance, excessively soft fur and cuddling (& biting of anyone who isn’t me). But, I LONG FOR A DOG!

    My solution – similar to yours – is to borrow. I have a 95# pit bull mastiv mix visit periodically & he is great – but with ADD, and his size, he is hard to manage. 3 days into it, and I remember why I don’t want to commit to another dog at this point in my life.

    Olivia’s father got her a dog for Christmas. A stupid thing, considering all the variables – but he got the dog for her. So now we have Tia (a 40# 8 month old red bone hound mutt). She is cute. I have her come more often than I would prefer – because SOMEONE has to train the dog. When she sees me coming – SHE LOVES LOVES LOVES me & always wants to come home. Its a great feeling. But after a few days, I am happy to send her back as well. Although I get a kick out of watching the cats battle for their turf. (see my video post on FB).

    In any event – the dogs come for visits and it becomes something to manage. The kids are good – periodically – but it still has to be managed, reminders, etc. But, I love having a dog cuddle up with me at night.

    One friend of mine recently said about the dog addition in her home, “I am grateful to have gotten her. She is my only kid who listens.” Others, who have high maintenance kids, traveling husbands, etc., and who do not trust their children to walk across the quiet neighborhood without assistance, wind up being the dog walkers. And they complain (when no one is around) that its more work and they regret the decision.

    Once you are done with diapers and you feel you can manage a dog, too (with all the schedules) – you can consider it. But, the dog will possibly be in the house after Tiny goes to college – and you and Rob will need to decide how much flexibility you will want to have when you are empty nesters.

    Comment by Carla ckaycambpell at aol — July 17, 2013 @ 7:30 am | Reply

    • Really good info, Carla and lots to think about, as always! 🙂

      Comment by Amy — July 17, 2013 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

  2. We have 3 cats and 1 dog. 1 cat was my idea. After that it was sweet talking little people that got the rest of the animals here. I do 100% of the work. All the time. Everyday. Litter boxes, feeding, bathing, fresh water in bowls. They claim the animals as their own though. I disagree. 1 Cat I don’t even like much. He won’t have a thing to do with anyone but one of my daughters and he occasionally forgets the whole house is not his litter box so he and I really have a strained relationship. So to answer your question, In my experience if you don’t want to take care of them, don’t get them, because the kids want the fun stuff and the cuddling but not the work.

    Comment by Kim W — July 17, 2013 @ 9:05 am | Reply

    • That’s my concern…thanks Kim!

      Comment by Amy — July 17, 2013 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

  3. I’ll preface this by saying the women commenting above are probably right. I don’t have children so I can’t relate. Even though I don’t have children yet, I can tell you growing up the pets were OUR responsibility. It was part of our allowance- feed the dog, let the dog out, walk the dog, groom the dog. And my sisters and I took the job very seriously. We treated our dogs as if they were ‘our children.’ And they were our best friends when our real friends weren’t ‘at their best.’ Bailey, our golden retriever, was the best should to cry on when I broke up with a boyfriend. Amidala my cat was all I had at times when I went through my divorce. Pets bring children, at for me as a child, a partner who loves unbiasedly. They also bring a family together in ways one could never imagine.

    I don’t want to sway you, but I would consider getting a pet. Even if it’s just some fish. And cats are pretty self sufficient- if you like them. Then you don’t have to worry about the late night walks!!!!

    Sorry! I’m just one of those people who can’t NOT have a pet in my life!

    Comment by lizziegrigio — July 17, 2013 @ 10:25 am | Reply

    • Definitely food for thought, Liz.

      Comment by Amy — July 17, 2013 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

  4. hmmm, there is a pet owner lurking in you yet though 🙂 If walking a dog is the worst part of ownership, than a self-sufficient pet would be best like a cat. Not trying to sway but you’re right that it teaches empathy and responsibility but the most important of all is that they learn they are loved unconditionally and can love unconditionally. It’s hard to feel love back from a fish or a hamster or a hermit crab. Only drawback is the care and let’s face it, kids don’t want to to do it. But if you have a rotating schedule of helpers including the adults, they may “fight” over who gets to feed and care/clean the pet. I’ve had cats since I was 6 and since then I have always taken the initiative in caring for my pets – at 6 years old and I was brushing, feeding, cleaning the box. Either I am unusual or just stepped up because it was important to me.

    Comment by Deborah — July 17, 2013 @ 11:45 am | Reply

    • I grew up with dogs, so I am a pet owner at heart. No cats…Monkey Girl and I are deathly allergic.

      Comment by Amy — July 17, 2013 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  5. No, your kids will not consistently care for the pet. But I have been very grateful to have my dog during my kids’ teenage years. The dog is never mad at me, even if I step on her paw. She never slams a door or accuses me of ruining her life, even when I give her a bath and she smells all flowery and is embarrassed in front of the other neighborhood dogs. When I ask her how I look, she always wags her tail enthusiastically, and never raises her eyebrows, shrugs and turns away. So get the dog before your daughter starts high school. You won’t regret it!

    Comment by S.W. Hubbard — July 17, 2013 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

    • I know…I ache for a dog. I grew up with dogs and really miss having one. However, I just don’t know if another being in this house will work. It’s on my mind.

      Comment by Amy — July 17, 2013 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  6. Right there with ya. Would love a dog, but could not fathom having to take care of another living being. Hey, maybe we can share one. Then we can send all the kids together around the block to walk it. There’s an idea.

    Comment by allison — July 17, 2013 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

    • Ah…now THAT’S a solution!!!

      Comment by Amy — July 17, 2013 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

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