I’m a big dog lover, having a dog growing up was one of the best experiences. I think it’s important for all kids to be either raised with or regularly exposed to pets so that they can have a healthy, not fearful, relationship with them, should they ever come into contact with them as a kid or adult. One of the families I work with recently got a dog and being with them and the dog has me thinking about pets, and about the phrase ‘dog days of summer.’
Some say the ‘dog days’ originally referred to the dog star Sirius appearing which could happen in late July. Now we refer to them during the days of summer when the day is so hot it just makes you want to lie around and do nothing, except pant with your dog of course.
I loved having a dog growing up and I look forward to having a dog again soon. But having a dog, or any kind of pet, is a big responsibility and not something that everyone can do full time. If that’s the case for you there are lots of organizations around the country that welcome visitors to be pet petters, some organizations have volunteers who take in pets for short periods of time before they find a full time home, and you can also pet sit for neighbors and friends.
Why do I encourage regular interaction with pets? Because just like many other things in life kids need to learn how to interact with them so they can respect them, know how to interact with them, know how to react to many different behaviors and feel comfortable and confident when they’re around. Pets are much better than people at picking up on how someone is feeling, so they react strongly to fears and anger, and unfortunately often react in ways that reinforce that anger and fear.
Pets are treasured members of many families around the world, and with more awareness, education and interaction I believe we can turn the tide for many dogs, pets and kids of the future.