Many children want a pet for Christmas. I really wanted a puppy. So at 12-years-old, I wrote up a multi-page contract for my parents, assuring them I would be responsible for bathing, grooming, walking, house-training … basically all daily care for the puppy. I would be in charge of where he slept, when he ate, and all of his toys. Financial stuff was their only domain.
It was an ironclad contract, I assured them.
But can you trust a 12-year-old? Even one that uses words like “ironclad?”
They did so they signed.
We found a puppy at the local animal shelter pretty quickly. This little guy, named Casey, came home soon thereafter.
As you can see, I kept up my end of the bargain providing him toys. I did try to get him to sleep in my room, on a cozy little bed.
He whined all night and slept all day.
And that was the end of the contract.
Thank goodness my parents picked up my slack until I was older. Casey remained a beloved member of the family for his entire life.
So before you get a pet for your child, brace yourself. No matter how many promises made about who will take care of what, know that, in the end, it will be you. So if you aren’t ready to make that commitment, don’t make any commitment to a pet and then expect to wash your hands of him at the shelter afterward.
An estimated 9,000 wonderful and adorable dogs and cats are killed in America’s shelters every day for no other reason than they don’t have a home.
You have other options. Consider fostering a pet instead. There’s a rescue group for every breed of dog, cats, and even other kinds of pets, like rabbits. Simply Google “fostering a pet in [your state].” Some shelters also have foster home programs or can point to you a local rescue group.
Some groups will cover all or part of the associated costs of caring for the pet. All you may need to do is care for him and take him to some adoption events to help him find his perfect home. Just ask.
You might be thinking, “that’s not the same as having our own pet.” But if you’re not sure you, personally, have the time, you’ll end up saying good-bye anyway. Wouldn’t it feel much better to say good-bye as you see him off to a loving family?
Not only will you feel certain if your family is ready for the gift of a new pet, you will have given the gift of love to another family and the gift of life to your foster pet.
That would make you one of the best gift-givers ever.