I teach a series class for child care providers through Childcare Resource and Referral called Childnet. One of the nights of the ten week series talks about our toys and how we spend our time growing up. We do a brainstorm activity where participants name their favorite childhood past times. The activity is done to make childcare providers realize that toys aren't everything in a child's life and rarely do we need things that are super expensive to entertain kids. Typically the list goes something like this...
playing game children made up
hanging out with neighbor kids until the street light went on
baseball with the neighbor kids
Then someone says...do pets count? I say yes. Then comes the pet stories. My cat was amazing..she let us dress her up in clothes or my dog was wonderful...She followed me everywhere and I even gave her rides in the basket of my bicycle. There are stories and stories and stories about pets.
Much of my childhood time was spent with pets...
As a real young girl, my dog was Nippy.
As I got older it was Pugsy.
Pugsy was so neat. I could hook her leash over the handle bar of my bike and she would trot along as I rode bike. It was so fun!!
Both were wonderful dogs that I could fill blog entry after blog entry about. I can't say enough good things about growing up with a dog to love. If I could only pick one "toy"...it would have been my dogs.
The best thing of all...I learned so much from them, loyalty, compassion, empathy, responsibility. There is something that a pet can teach that no human or toy ever could.
Thankfully I had parents who allowed a dog in the house and who were there to provide the training and rules that helped me learn to be a responsible pet owner. Granted, a dog is much more work in maintenance and time than a toy is..but it's oh so worth it. No toy can ever comfort or care for a child like a pet can.
A pet is a wonderful investment for an entire family. I watch my husband who didn't have a dog in the house growing up be playful and at ease with our dog. I see some of his stress melt away. Granted...the emotional attachment goes both ways as it is really hard to watch pets die..but again that is another thing pets can teach us..how to let go.
If your house is ready for a long term forever commitment a pet that includes training, it is a much better investment than any toy on any shelf.