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Parents Take Note

 


As a young child, I’ve always wanted dogs.  I was envious of friends who had dogs and would always bug my parents for one.  Their reply was always “How can you take care of a dog when you can’t even take care of yourself?” Back then, I thought it was unfair, as I did of any of their replies that did not go my way.  Looking back, however, I am glad of their stance.

I don’t even know when or why I started loving dogs.  Perhaps it stemmed from my love of reading – Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven with Scamper or The Famous Five with Timmy, or maybe from TV/movies – Lassie, Shiloh, Jerry Lee of K9 fame, Beethoven….  I dreamt of taking my dog to the playground, sharing my meals, having a cry with my dog on bad days…

Regardless, I am glad my parents took the responsible step and did not give in to my childish whims.  My parents gave us our first family dog, a mongrel puppy, when I was about 13.  My sister and I were told that we had to feed, clean and walk the dog.  It started a journey of learning about responsibilities, caring for another, kindness, humanity and empathy.  Upon reflection now, I realize so many things that I should have done better and am now doing my best with my own dog.

Had my parents given in easily to my request, I could be one of many now who would just take it for granted and not bother about the dog after the 2nd week.  I hear of some parents who gladly buy puppies, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs or hamsters for their children.  Not that there is anything wrong with this.  What is wrong is six months later, when the child is bored and the pet stops being a novelty, or has ‘grown bigger than expected’ or ‘is more work than thought’, the pet is neglected.  Other problems may arise – health problems, behavioral problems, abandoned offspring as the pet is not desexed and the list goes on.  The lucky ones may be rehomed but the not so lucky ones will get dumped.  Talk to any rescuer and I am very sure you will hear of many such cases.

And so, parents, if your child turns to you with those puppy dog eyes and asks for a pet, please do not give in so easily.  Think really hard about whether you, your child and your family can take on the additional responsibility of a pet.  Especially when the pet does not turn out to be the dream pet that so-and-so has, that you read about or which you see on TV.  See if your child is ready – volunteer at the shelters first or help to foster an animal, and then if the interest and desire are still there coupled with the right attitude of loving and caring for the animal, then perhaps your child is ready.  And when you do get a pet, please be an adult and guide your child through his/her first lessons in responsibilities and caring for another.  Having a pet instils so many invaluable life lessons that do not get taught in school.

 

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Jessica Ng

Grew up wanting dogs, thanks to the four-legged friends and heroes depicted in story books. Our first family dog was welcomed into our home when I was 13, and aside from the time spent in UK studying and working, I've always had dog(s) around since. Through them, I've learnt so much and am still learning about life and ironically, humanity.

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