April 26th is National Kids and Pets Day. Founded in 2005 by Colleen Paige, a mother, pet lover, former EMT, and celebrity family and pet lifestyle expert, National Kids and Pets Day is dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals. This day is dedicated to help bring awareness to the number of pets in shelters awaiting new homes and educating the public about safety between children and pets.
National Kids and Pets Day encourages parents to never leave small children alone with dogs and cats and other animals that have the potential to cause them harm. Thousands of children every year are injured or killed by family pets. Often these tragic events can be avoided.
We have three giant breed rescue dogs. Two Great Danes and a Saint Bernard. All three dogs were here long before our son came along. The Saint Bernard was a mascot for the Illinois Saint Bernard Rescue since he was 8 weeks old. He retired when he was six. He has been around children his entire life. The Great Danes have been exposed to children but not at the magnitude that Otis has. Regardless of their history, no matter how much I love and trust them, my son is never left unattended with them. On the flip side of that, my son is also taught boundaries with the dogs.
When we come home from school, it is his “chore” to let the dogs out and feed them. At 22 months, this is a huge thing for him. He LOVES his “pooooopies”. He helps me fill the dogs bowls with food and when we let them back in, he hands me their bowls and I give them their meals. He has been taught to never pet or disturb them when they are eating or bother them when they are asleep.
The responsibility that a child can learn from caring for a pet can play an important role in their social development. Children that grow up with pets tend to be extremely nurturing and compassionate. Many times they become loving pet owners themselves as adults.
There are thousands upon thousands of dogs and cats awaiting homes in shelters. There is a huge misconception that these animals are damaged, aggressive, abused, and unable to be trained. Sadly, most of the animals simply ended up there because their family members fell on hard times or they did not educate themselves on raising a certain breed before purchasing. Nearly all of these pets are lovable and highly trainable if not all ready housebroken and obedience trained.
One of the most important thing you can do for your family is to do your homework. Be sure everyone in the home is ready for a pet. Decide which breed is right for you. Be honest with the shelter about your family dynamics and in turn they will match you appropriately. Most importantly, be ready for a life long commitment. Pets are not objects you can throw away simply because a shelter exists.
The bond between a child and dog is unmatched. One of the greatest pleasures I have on a daily basis is watching my son interact with our dogs. The love they have for each other is unlike any other.
Kids and pets……there is nothing like it.
Happy National Kids and Pets Day!