On a recent morning, my two-year-old daughter woke me up with a loud exclamation: “Change Diva’s seeds!” She was reporting for her daily pet-feeding duties. Like clockwork every morning, my daughter dumps out the old food for both of our pets pets, puts in new food, demands that we put fresh water in their bowls and stands on her tip toes to turn on the little radio we play to keep the pets entertained during the day.
My husband and I decided early on that our daughter would need to know that to truly love a pet, you need to pitch in to help with all aspects of pet care. Here are a few methods that have worked well for us:
Lead by Example: Our daughter has always been by our side as we take care of our bird, Diva, and our dog, Mr. Happy. I remember balancing her on my hip as she watched me scoop out Mr. Happy’s food. And my husband, Matt, remembers our daughter toddling behind him as he took care of Diva in the mornings. Then one morning, she screamed out, “No-no! Let me do it.” We let her try out feeding our bird. It was a mess with seeds everywhere, but she was determined.
Don’t Force It: Given our daughter’s young age, we believe her participation in pet care is voluntary. We don’t force her to help. However, we do make sure that she finishes her tasks. For example, if she starts changing the bird’s seeds, and then finds her building blocks more interesting, we make her stop playing and return to feeding the bird.
Positive Reinforcement: As soon as our daughter turns on the radio, Diva will start tweeting and dancing. As soon as the kibble hits the bowl, Mr. Happy is enjoying a good chow. Even on our busiest mornings we stop and have our daughter observe our enjoying the food she provided to them. The smile on her face is priceless.
Involvement in Medical Care: Each morning, our daughter watches as we give Mr. Happy his separation anxiety medication and we explain to her what we are doing. It is important to us that she knows that proper medical care is a key part of truly loving a pet. One time, she even noticed an infection in Mr. Happy’s ear. She yelled, “Mommy, Mr. Happy’s ear is red. He needs doctor help.” Sure enough, our dog’s ear was red and he had an ear infection.
Respecting our Pets' Boundaries: For the safety of all, it is critical that our daughter respects our pets' boundaries. From a very young age, we have instructed her not to give food to the pets without first asking us. There are certain parts of the house where our dog is trained to go if he needs a break, and it took some time, but our daughter is finally respecting those limits. We are as firm with her on respecting these boundaries as are we are with other safety routines in our home, such as not touching the stove and not playing on the stairs.
Do you involve your kids in your family’s pet care routine? Please share in the comments.
Browsing for items for your whole family? Check out our list of items in the ASPCA Online Store for human and furry friends alike! Plus, each purchase supports the ASPCA’s work for animals in need nationwide.
Paw and Heart Pendant: This yellow gold pendant features 1/4 carat diamonds and rests on an 18-inch chain.
The chicken industry has designated September as National Chicken Month, so here at the ASPCA, we’re using this month as an opportunity to discuss important chicken welfare issues. Read the first and second installments of this three-part series by the ASPCA Farm team.
We know the feeling: You’re faced with a lengthy grocery list and only an hour to shop for everything you need. If you’ve been using our label guide, you know your way around misleading food labels. But, what do you do when you can’t find humanely-raised chicken in your grocery store?
We understand this dilemma. Today’s fast-growing chickens grow so large, so fast that many can barely stand and they tend to be raised in cruel conditions where they live short lives filled with suffering. No animal should be forced to endure that, and consumers should be entitled to higher-welfare choices at their grocery stores. In fact, according to a recent ASPCA survey, 81% of people say it’s important to them that the chickens they eat were raised humanely and 76% wish there were more humanely raised chicken products available to purchase.*
Luckily, there’s a way to have your voice heard and to influence the availability of humane options in your supermarket. With our Supermarket Request Letter, you can ask your preferred grocery store(s) to carry more humanely-raised chicken. Labels such as Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved, and GAP (Steps 3 and above) represent a big step towards higher standards that are better for chickens and better for your family. So, if you’re tired of searching high and low for more humanely raised chicken, fill out our letter and start taking action today!
Want to get involved? Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #ChickenMonth.
*The ASPCA supplied questions to Edge Research who designed the survey, which was conducted via phone by Caravan ORC International between August 14 and 17, 2014.
Do you enjoy playing games on your smart phone? Now you can consider playing a game that benefits animals in need! A group of students at Drexel University has turned a shared love of cats and gaming into a unique way to help the ASPCA.
Three students involved with the school’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio designed a mobile game called Galactickitties.
“The inspiration for the game comes from a bunch of different places,” says Timothy Day, one of the game’s creators. “There's a series of games that revolve around the idea of creating a bigger and bigger ball of stuff by rolling around a level. We hadn't seen that done in 2D and were interested to try it out. We combined it with another large inspiration: cats! And, naturally, we put it in space.”
Day explains Galactickitties: “Players guide a magical ball of space yarn rescuing cats that are drifting through space. When the ball of yarn collides with a cat, the cat becomes attached to the ball. When more cats collide with the growing cat ball, they too become part of the mass of cats. On top of this, there are dangerous asteroids and space debris that will knock cats off the ball—there are even black holes that will push the cats away. To rescue the kitties for good, players get the ball into a portal that teleports them safely back home.”
Sound like fun? Each download of the game from the Apple App Store or Google Play benefits the ASPCA’s work for animals in need nationwide. We’re inspired by these students’ creativity and compassion for animals! If you’re a small business owner who would like to give back in a similar way, please visit the ASPCA Business Ambassador page to learn more.
Guest Blogger Emily Cappo is a writer and blogger at Oh Boy Mom. She is a mom to three boys and one girl dog named Matilda, a sweet and cuddly Labradoodle. Matilda and Emily are also a certified pet therapy team.
When we adopted our sweet Labradoodle, Matilda, more than five years ago, our friends and family members assumed our three boys had pushed us for another dog after our Portuguese Water Dog, Bosley, passed away at the age of 13.
Although the kids were all in favor of adopting a new dog, I was equally enthusiastic. I had always had a dog in my life, and couldn’t imagine not having a furry companion living with us.
Matilda was a joy from the moment we brought her home, and she was the perfect addition to our family. At first, I did not considered adopting a second dog, but when a friend of mine rescued a mixed- breed puppy that curled up in my lap as soon as he met me, I started to seriously consider the idea.
We haven’t yet taken the plunge to give Matilda a sibling, and I wonder if Matilda would enjoy having a companion. She seems perfectly content to be the lone dog, of the house and when we go to the dog park, she shows more interest in the other dog owners than the dogs themselves.
I have heard stories of people adopting a second dog who doesn’t get along with their resident dog. I have plenty of chaos in my house with three rowdy boys—do I really need to add another dog to the mix? And, what if our second dog is like our old dog, Bosley, who was a loud barker with an insatiable appetite for stealing human food?
I have realized that these are trivial concerns, because family is not something you can dictate by waving a magic wand. You can make a conscious decision to add to your family – with both kids and pets – and yet you can’t control the dynamic anymore than you can control the weather. I know that well, as I watch my three boys forge three very different paths in this world.
We’ve decided that a second dog is definitely in our future. I can’t wait to find Matilda a brother or a sister!