The Value of Our Family Pet

As newlyweds, my husband and I had a couple of pets, but they were inherited from our parents. We loved and cared for them, and they were like parts of childhood that transitioned with us to married life. A few years after we got married, both of our childhood pets died. After we had children we still had some pets, but they were super-low maintenance. We basically had beta fish for years, and we were content with that. As a new mom, if we were going to have a pet, it needed to be pretty indestructible and easy to care for. When we had two children, I declared that I was at my current max for caring for living beings in our home. Let me just focus on keeping these guys thriving. I didn’t even want another plant!

And then, as the boys got older, they both started asking for a dog. We waited until we felt like it was the right time, and then we found the perfect fit for our family. It was almost like our dog found us. We have some friends who had lots of dogs, and as their children were growing up and in college, they offered to give us one of their family Yorkies. He was the best kind of dog for our boys. He loves to go for walks, but he’s also gentle and snuggly, and sweet when company comes over, too.

Here are some of the ways that I feel like our boys have grown too since we have a pet.

  1. They are learning more responsibility – Our boys see that our Yorkie needs to be fed and have water, get baths, go for walks, take his medicine, go to the veterinarian, and be groomed. They’re learning about care for animals and what they need. This helps to take them outside of just what they need, and see what he needs. They also see ways that they can help take care of him, such as letting him outside and taking him for walks. They also refill his water dish and help me take him on trips to get groomed or to the vet.
  2. They are learning more empathy – Our boys see that our Yorkie is so excited to see them when we get home from school and from work. Our boys see that he has feelings and interests too and that he is very smart. They love to play with him and snuggle with him too. They can see that our dog has a whole different perspective than the rest of us, and he is just so much fun.
  3. They are learning about caring – The first Christmas that we had our Yorkie, the boys were so excited to pick out his dog bed and some dog toys. They love to give him treats and surprises. And they can’t stop laughing when our Yorkie hears me say “walk” with my tennis shoes on, because he chases me all over the house until I get out his leash and take him on a walk too. They see that our dog has his own needs and that they can delight in helping to take care of him. They are also learning that having a pet can be such a joy.

We were thrilled to have our Yorkie as a pet, but now he is also part of our family. He is one of the best parts of our day to come home too. I love that I can also see my boys grow as they learn how to help take care of him.

Stephanie grew up with her family in Kirkwood, Missouri. She earned a degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and then a Montessori degree in Atlanta, Georgia.  She also lived in Oklahoma for several years, and now calls Baton Rouge home. She taught PreK and Elementary school part time, full time, and had some stay-at home mom time when her babies were little. She teaches PreK four at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, and she loves being a teacher mom. In her free time, she enjoys going to Barre class, cooking, traveling, singing, girls' nights, trips to the beach, and spending time with friends and family. She and her husband have two adventurous, adorable boys, ages seven and thirteen, who keep life exciting and hilarious. 


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