Alphabetic Guide to Child Care - Pets


Pets, from dogs and cats to hedgehogs to turtles, have become increasingly popular additions to households of all kinds. While the type of pet chosen by rural, suburban, or urban families may differ, it is universally acknowledged that any type of pet provides hours of enjoyment, valuable lessons in responsibility, and in the case of a dog, protection from prowlers. Of course, dogs offer the greatest companionship but also impose the greatest responsibility; they do have to be housebroken and walked in all weathers at least twice a day. If a child brings a stray animal home, the dog or cat must be checked by a vet before it becomes a household member. Once a youngster can read, the acquisition of a pet hamster or a guinea pig or a pair of gerbils will provide the incentive for trips to the library for books on care and feeding.

Choosing a Dog

When a dog is to be the choice, it's often cheaper and more satisfactory to select one from the litter of a healthy dog you know than to buy one in a pet shop or from a commercial kennel. The Anti-Cruelty Society and other animal shelters can provide families with pets at little or no charge. The breed chosen should be suitable in terms of size, temperament, and cost of feeding. Relative advantages and disadvantages should be checked out at the library by the child whose responsibility the pet will be.

For an only child, a pet animal is almost a must, not only for companionship, but so that there's a being in the house who's smaller and more helpless than she is. In families where allergies are a problem, the physician should be consulted about the type of pet that will cause the least discomfort to a vulnerable member of the household.

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