Somebody please stop me.
I’m thinking of getting my kids a dog.
I mean, out of all the mothers I swore I’d never be, dog owner was probably right up there– forging the final link in my chain to eternal enforced domesticity.
Living in New York City makes it even worse: you can’t just open the back door and send your dog out to fertilize the lawn. You have to walk the dog until it poops, pick it up, throw it out, repeat in six hours. (Or however long dogs go between poops. How should I know. Have you sensed I’m not really a dog person?)
Not to mention that that we live in an apartment that already seems crowded enough without a shedding, slobbering beast to lay all over the couch and clear rooms with its gas.
On the other hand, this.
We babysat these two doggy siblings for about twenty minutes at the beach while their owners took a walk.
My kids flipped. My kids said “Look Mom! I taught him a trick!” My kids are still talking about it.
Today, the New York Times published an article by Dr. Perri Klass: Can Fido and Whiskers Enrich Children’s Lives? I would say that Dr. Klass comes down on the rather vehement side of yes. Per Dr. Klass’s research, the benefits include:
- teaching children skills they can use in social interactions with humans.
- giving children who have difficulty with human bonds the opportunity to form such a bond with an animal
- calming children in stressful situations
- giving children incentive to exercise and be outside
- protecting children from allergies to animals, if they are exposed to pets in the home early in life
- providing unconditional love (“at least, if you have a treat in your hand”)
- giving children a “much more inclusive sense of self”
I will definitely be hiding today’s Times from my children, who need no further ammunition. But Klass and her experts have almost totally convinced me: for all three of my children, especially for the one who suffers from anxiety, a dog would probably be a wonderful thing.
Although it’s not lost on me that no one’s asking whether Fido and Whiskers would enrich mothers’ lives. Probably because the answer to that one is too obvious. I just know, by week two, I’ll be doing the feeding and the brushing and the walking and the teeth brushing and the petting. And the loving. Okay, yes. I’ll probably be doing some loving, too.
Do you own pets? Did you do it for your kids? In your experience, has it been worth all the hassles?