Friday, April 26, 2019

National Kids and Pets Day

Today is a post celebrating the special bond between children and pets. Mom Paula grew up with pets and believes being responsible for these furry companions has helped her to be a more caring and empathetic individual

Nephews Russell and William with Praline (1995)

National Kids and Pets Day was created by Colleen Paige, Celebrity Family and Pet Lifestyle Expert, in 2005. This day is dedicated to furthering the magical bond between animals and children, educating the public about safety between children and pets, and bringing awareness to pets in shelters. 

Ms. Paige believes that "the future of our children and their ability to show compassion toward animals and each other, depends on us, to give them the skills necessary to make the world a better, kinder place to live."

Mom Paula's Pets

Paula and Chin (1970s)

I grew up with pets from the young age of 5. My first pet was a Collie (wish I could find some of those old photos) and after we lost him, we moved forward with a Pekingese named Chin. I remember so well the day we lost Chin (I was a wreck for a week). I believe learning to love, as well as experiencing the lost of a loved one, came from being owned by pets. My parents got us another Pekingese named Cheena after we lost Chin, but I got married within a couple of years after getting him and my parents began traveling and couldn't keep him. They did find a wonderful new forever home for him. Within a few years of getting married, my life being owned by cats began. Cats have continued to be my furry companions for the last 40+ years. I've experienced joy, frustration, worry, depression, and love with my cats. There are some days I wonder if it would be easier to not have them in my life because of illnesses and death, but then I remember all they've given me and realize I wouldn't trade a day of having them. Pets are such wonderful companions who don't judge and show undying love.

Children with Disabilities

Truffle playing with a family friend

Ms. Paige also believes that children with learning disabilities can greatly increase academic success by reading to pets. She also states that pets can help shy children open up and feel more confident. Studies have shown that pets can help children with a wide range of conditions and disabilities (USA Today, 2015).

I have a friend whose son was born with Down's Syndrome. I remember when I moved back to Columbia after being gone for 10 years and Janet came over with Cody to visit Praline and me. Praline was never a cat who was comfortable with strangers, especially children. As we were walking into my house, I calmly told Cody to be quiet when he came inside and to sit on the floor and let Praline come to him. I had no idea if she would get anywhere near him, but not only did she come over to him, she let him pet her and she turned around and licked his hand. I can still remember the smile on Cody's face as Praline let him pet her. Cody was very gentle with Praline and being around her was very calming to him. I lost Praline a couple of years after this encounter and remember Cody coming over to my house for a visit a few months after Praline died (before the Truffle and Brulee came to live with me).  I was showing Janet pictures of the kittens (Truffle and Beignet) on the computer and Cody asked, "Where is Praline?"  I was caught off guard for a moment, trying to decide how to explain this to Cody without upsetting him and where he could understand.  His mom told him that Praline wasn't here.  He looked at me and I just said, "She's in Kitty Heaven."  His next words brought tears to my eyes.  He looked at both of us and said, "With Jesus"  His mom had to answer him because I had to turn my head so he wouldn't see me crying.  His mom answered, "Yes, with Jesus."   He then looked at both of us and in his own words said, "Paula get new kittens, right?"  That brought a smile to my face and I said yes.  Just when we think they won't understand...

I brought Cody over to meet Truffle when she came to live with me and he remembered to come in the house quietly and sat on the floor. Truffle came over to him and Cody emptied out the toy box and both played all afternoon.

Pets and Family Members

Russell and William with their cat and kittens

Many people believe there are numerous benefits when children are raised with pets. If children develop positive feelings about pets, their self-esteem and self-confidence can be more positive. The American Academic of Child and Adolescent Psychology (January 2019) states that "positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy."

I never had children, but I've watched my sister and her husband allow their children to be around pets. Russell and William were taught to take care of their cats (and later, dogs) and became very caring and empathetic adults. William has always had a special place in his heart for animals. He helped rescue a cat that had fallen down a water drain in the street. He's had both cats and dogs and I watch him treat them with love and patience.

Zoey and Mr. Jones

Russell has a little girl and he's made sure she's been around animals and has learned how to treat them appropriately. My sister lives on a farm now and has goats, horses, chickens, dogs, and cats. She made sure Zoey was comfortable around all of the animals and taught her how to respect each species. Zoey now lives with two cats at her dad's house and one cat at her mom's house. I love watching a little girl so comfortable with animals and trust she will grow up to be a loving and empathetic woman.

Now that my nephews have become men and have families of their own, they rarely have the opportunity to visit with Truffle and Brulee. I am so pleased though to see how wonderful they are with their pets and hope they continue to pass on the benefits of living with pets.

William with Brulee and Truffle (2011)

I hope you've enjoyed our trip down memory lane with some of the pets who've been in my life. I continue to value the benefits have having furry companions in my life and enjoy sharing our stories with the world.

Happy National Kids and Pets Day

Would you like to comment?

  1. Wonderful post in all ways, great photos ... great writing, love it all! (posted a link to this on our
    blog) Thanks for sharing, hugs to you and yours ...

  2. Thanks for sharing your memories, it was a beautiful post to read. I've always believed raising kids and animals together was a wonderful thing. People are often surprised to hear I was not raised with animals, nor did I have any interactions with them until I was around 25. Sounds shocking, but no one I knew had pets so I had no experience. When a boyfriend at the time brought a puppy over to visit I was hooked!!

  3. Love all the happy faces and pets too!

  4. What great shots of family and pets. Precious.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

  5. Pets are so important in a kids life and I was so blessed to have grown up in a house with many of all kinds as it also teaches them responsibility. I love the photos thanks for sharing them

  6. I am so sick of reading about animals who are abused because stupid humans don't value a cat's life. It breathes and bleeds the same as us. I don't have any data to back it up - but I suspect the people who do such horrible things have never had a pet themselves. Then again, there's a link because animal abuse and domestic abuse ... so I suspect the answer isn't that easy.

  7. Great post. Pets are good for everyone.

  8. My momma had dogs and cats growing up - and still does!

  9. This is an awesome post. My human has noticed a real difference between kids who are raised with pets and those who aren't, just by their interactions with me. Even though she had lifelong issues with her parents, she will always be grateful that they had pets when she was growing up.

  10. What beautiful memories! I wish I had photos of myself with my childhood cats. Unfortunately, my parents weren't big on photos. I loved seeing yours.

  11. One of my favourite things about going through old photo albums, is seeing all the beautiful companions I was lucky to have growing up. Your post is a beautiful tribute to your companions, and a great reminder of why it's important for children to have such experiences.

  12. Aww what a fun trip down memory lane. I love all the photos especially the one with Praline. I remember you talking about her from your past. I have to agree that raising pets DOES instill responsibility, caring, compassion and empathy in young children. I really think it helps to contribute to having more productive, responsible human beings with a heart. I don't trust anyone who is cruel and abusive to animals. My radar goes up!

  13. Teaching chilredn about compassion and understanding begins with loving a close friend and animal. This is a fantastic day!

  14. The relationship between kids and cats is precious when fostered properly. The moment my son met his Midnight is one we will all always remember.
    When I ran a pet retail location it made me uncomfortable when parents bought their child a pet to teach them responsibility and caring though. Those people were the ones that were back in 6 months looking to re-home the animal their kid lost interest in.

  15. I loved reading these stories! I grew up with pets and so did my children. Kids and pets can be a great combination, but it does require some adult supervision, especially in the beginning.

  16. What a wonderful trip down Memory Lane! Love the pics! Animals make such special and amazing childhood buddies, right up through adulthood, and senior years! I, too, had a Collie, two actually, as family dogs when I was a teen. I always loved Lassie, and was thrilled when my mother adopted a Collie that looked just like her, Lady! She and our other, Brandy, would follow me wheenver I went riding on my horse! Thanks for joining in our FiveSibes Flashback Friday blog hop, too!

  17. I don't think I've seen a kitten picture of Praline before; she's adorably gorgeous AND tiny! I firmly believe that being around pets as kids is super important. My nephew is on the Autism Spectrum - and while I'm not, I know how valuable my cats have been to me - especially in dealing with feelings I couldn't grasp or find a way around. Like with humans, I still worry about being good enough with my cats - but it takes away at least some of the pressure that I feel in human company. You don't have to explain what's wrong to a cat - they just understand.


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