10 steps before you own a pet

Cartoon of a boy and a mean dog. The boy says, "A puppy! Can I keep you?"Have you ever had a child begging you for a pet? You know it will be extra work and money, but deep down you want the pet as well, don’t you?

One day, my son announced he wanted a dog for his birthday. My wife and I thought it was time and we began looking for the perfect dog. The whole episode ended badly because we were ill prepared for pet ownership. Here are ten things I learned that enabled us to become responsible pet owners later.

  1. No matter what, don’t let emotions be your deciding factor. We chose the first dog my son loved (which was the first dog he saw!). We needed to consider if dog was the right fit for our family.
  2. As a parent, assume you will have the primary responsibility. Pet ownership is a great way to teach responsibility, but don’t let your pet suffer because junior forgot to take the dog outside. Parents have to assume they will at least be sure the pet is cared for.
  3. Biking with a dog is a tricky thing. Don’t assume you or the pet will pick it up immediately. I still have the scars to prove it can end badly.
  4. While treats are a great reward, too many lose their effectiveness pretty quickly.
  5. Consider your yard. We thought our backyard was perfect. Little did we know our new dog liked to dig and make a break for it. We soon discovered this dog need much more room.
  6. Consider the size of your home. This dog wanted outside all of the time. She just didn’t feel comfortable in our house. And because she was outside all the time, the house became much dirtier when she was inside.
  7. Consider the age of all your kids. Our son was ready. Our daughter is four years younger and she didn’t understand that the dog didn’t want to play dress-up.
  8. Make sure everyone is prepared and ready to take on this new pet. My wife was staying home with the kids and didn’t feel comfortable with the dog. I knew we were in trouble at that point.
  9. Admit when you are wrong. Thankfully, the previous owner was gracious and welcomed the dog back. We just weren’t prepared. We had to be humble enough to admit we goofed.
  10. Start with a smaller pet first. We discovered later that a cat was a better fit for our family. When our family learned to take care of a cat, a dog came later. It was a better fit.

We ended up finding the right pets for our household. How about you? What are some tips you would give someone before committing to a new pet?

Beach Oracle

I drew this about twelve years ago at the beach. I wonder now what this boy was thinking as he was staring at the shell and if he ever got his questions answered.

Most adults look at kids and think they have a carefree existence where everything is better than anything an adult could be going through. But as a teacher, I’ve seen experience some tough situations. School and family can be enough to drive anyone crazy, let alone a nine year-old!

Kids need some time to decompress and de-stress too. In the USA, we’re about to enter a holiday weekend. Take some time to relax, and give your kids a chance to do so as well.

Boy stares thoughtfully at a sea shell

Do the Water Slide

Cartoon of two boys and a teacher. One of the boys says, “We know what our summer project can be. We can start a water slide ministry.”

This cartoon is in the March/April, 2011 issue of K! Magazine. This issued focuses on summer and missions. They’re talking VBS, camps and all-around summer fun! It’s helping me warm up on a cold, March day.

Bump, Set, Sing

Cartoon of three volleyball players in choir robesCartoon of three people in choir robes. They are in front of a volleyball net. The caption reads, “No matter the event, Choir Camp had a rigid dress code.” Continue reading “Bump, Set, Sing”

Curses! Super Soaked Again

Cartoon of boy in pool and a girl

Cartoon of boy in a swimming pool and a girl. “The pool was more fun when you let me splash you.”

Continue reading “Curses! Super Soaked Again”