This afternoon I decided to take advantage of the dry weather and walk one of the dogs to meet Katie walking home from school. I had stopped halfway and stood back from the pavement so Tessa, our twelve-year-old Labrador, didn’t pounce on any teenagers as they walked past. She stood back quite the thing watching all the kids walking by us, not really understanding why we had stopped. Katie appeared from round the corner and Tessa instantly recognised the noise of her footsteps and of course, Tessa was super happy to see her. It just got me thinking how much the girls have been brought up surrounded by pets and how much they all care about each other.
I guess the relationship between family members and our pets is one that is sometimes taken for granted. My mum was terrified of anything that was bigger than a goldfish but I was allowed several fish and I remember them all, I can still name them all. I was completely animal obsessed then and it’s never really left me. I wasn’t allowed anything bigger than a fish, although she did eventually cave and let me have a budgie, it’s cage hung in the bathroom for some reason!
Michael and I had always spoken about how our kids would be allowed to have pets, we definitely knew we wanted a dog. Even before we had moved in together we got our first dog, Gypsy. She was amazing with the girls when they were younger and although she lived out her retirement years with my dad, she was a huge part of the family and lived to the grand old age of 16!
Nowadays we have the two dogs, a rabbit and a hamster but along the years there have been fish, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits. Oh, and not to forget Tessa’s puppies – 10 adorable labrador babies that left little pawprints on my heart forever. Has it enhanced our family life? Without a doubt. I know our girl’s lives have been enhanced by the returned love of every single pet, even Chip, the Syrian hamster who lived until he was 8 and savaged anyone that came near him (RIP, Chip). I know it’s made the girls more responsible, more caring and nurturing and I have no doubt they will go on to be responsible pet owners themselves.
I definitely believe pets have a positive impact on family life, even a goldfish can teach a child so much. I just wish they lived longer.