By Lily Birdt
Ever since I was little, there has always been a pet in my house. My first best friend was my German Shepherd Harley, who watched over my crib every night and growled when anyone other than my mom or dad came into the room. I would often dress her up in my clothes, trying to get her to wear my tiara or paint her nails pink.
Growing up with an animal still impacts me to this day. Though many people who have never had a pet in their house, especially a dog, develop a fear of animals, I have never seen dogs as evil or scary and always to be loved and cared for. They may have heard stories of or have experienced that one neighbor’s dog who bit someone’s thumb or chewed up their shoe. They haven’t experienced true love with an animal they could call their own.
Some parents think it is dangerous to raise their children around pets, added on top of the burden of caring for something else when they already have a child.
Although fear of pets’ reactions to small children is understandable and having an extra mouth to feed can be a burden, raising children with pets has been proven to help the children in the long run.
“Kids who get support from their animal companions were rated by their parents as less anxious and withdrawn,” Dr. Gail F. Melson, professor emeritus of developmental studies at Purdue University, said in regards to a study he had performed.
All my life, my father claimed that my strong immune system is due to my interaction with our pets. For instance, according to a study from the Journal of Pediatrics, children who had a dog during the first year of their life had a higher immune response opposed to those who didn’t, and even experienced 31 percent fewer respiratory tract infections.
Along with physical benefits, children also gain emotional benefits from growing up with pets. Children who grow up with a pet and learn to care for it with compassion receive an invaluable experience in love and responsibility.
They also teach them to care for others who cannot repay you, a lesson in empathy and compassion. They develop trusting relationships with their pet and have an outlet to whom they can tell their private and random thoughts.
In order for humans and their pets to interact, they must be good at non-verbal communication, which allows kids raised with pets to become strong in this area.
However, it is important to recognize that there should always be a guardian around during these interactions. It is important that the pet and child be monitored when they are young as both tend to have strong impulses. Families must be also aware of what type of pet will best suit their home environment.
Pets are not only important for children, but for all people too. They provide us with comfort, love, loyalty, and much more. Pets are there for our best and worst moments and we always have someone to share life with.