My first blogged piece of advice could be to not have a family pet. That will, however, not be my advice as there are countless scientific studies suggesting many health benefits come with pet ownership.
Children can learn aspects of responsibility and parents can learn how long it takes for the children to shirk that responsibility. If you wanted to avoid the breeds of dogs that, according to national statistics, are more likely to bite a child, you would avoid the Rottweiler, Pit Bull and German Shepherd breed. Dog ownership has been reported to lower the chance of children developing asthma if exposed to the pets early in life. There is some risk of allergies when owning any pet and reptiles can carry some communicable disease. Pregnant women should not change cat litter boxes due to the risk of toxoplasmosis. So, there are some things to consider. If you are considering a pet and wondering what kind to get, here's an article to read as you research the decision.
As a pet-owning family, you take a risk. You sign up to, more than likely, deal with the loss of a family pet and for a child, or anyone bonded to Fido, it can be a tragic occurrence. Our family recently experienced the loss of a pet when our turtle Patrick died.
Our daughter had learned in a book that turtles can live to be 100. I knew anything short of that for Patrick was going to be hard to explain. Trying to be a good dad and knowing the significance of this event, I made a plan. My wife and I called our two 5-year-olds to the dining room table.
My wife said "we need to tell you something serious."
I said, "I went to check on Patrick. He must have gotten sick. He died."
My son's eyes got huge and I noticed because it took my daughter a few seconds to realize what I had just said. We explained we could bury him. We talked about turtle heaven. We shared some of the memorable times with Patrick. They asked a couple questions and then my daughter, unexplainably, started laughing.
She talked, laughed and asked questions about whether she could play with Patrick outside. She was clearly in denial. Our son seemingly skipped this stage of grieving.
They asked to say goodbye and I showed them Patrick who was now in a small cardboard box suitable for a turtle coffin. We talked some more and then it hit her. She exploded with tears and cried and wept the rest of the evening.
She wrote a note for Patrick and taped it to his box. We made plans to bury him after their dentist appointment the next day.
Just before bed, our daughter said, still weepy, "Patrick didn't get to live to 100, when I get to heaven, I'm going to visit Patrick."
A few minutes later she said, "Can we get a dog?"