The Value of Sharing Family Pet Stories

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 2:30pm
Old photo of young girl with her dog

Guest blog by Mary Dell Harrington, co-founder of the parenting blog Grown and Flown.

I love listening to family stories, especially when the protagonist is the family pet. Friends talk about cuddling kittens or welcoming kisses from new puppies when they were children. Their stories are vivid, filled with multi-sensory details. 

In his book, The Secrets of Happy Families, author Bruce Feiler reveals that a commonality of happy families is in storytelling.  He writes of the value to children who learn about ethical behavior and resiliency from parents who share family history. In my opinion, stories including pets should also be treasured as oral heirlooms, passed down through generations.   

When I was little, twice a year, we drove eight hours to visit my grandparents who lived in far west Texas. I have vivid memories of my grandmother’s stories about “Kitty Boo,” the cat our mom dressed in doll clothes and strolled around the neighborhood. She told us about my uncle who rode horses and who once befriended an angora goat by sneaking him into the house.

Long ago, our children learned about Blackie, my husband’s dog who daily walked all six kids to school and returned home to await the end of classes.  They heard about Pierre, the silver grey poodle my parents chose as a companion for their two little girls.

Our kids are already telling stories of growing up with Choco, Argus, Moose and Gus—our four chocolate labs. These pups have generated plenty of material—most of it humorous, some occasionally smelly, and much that is heart-in-your-throat poignant.  Interwoven into each story is an ethic of responsible pet ownership that is one of our family’s core values. When I hear them begin a tale about their dogs, regardless of the details, what is most memorable is the loving regard in which the dogs have been held. That seems perfect to me.

Do you have a story to share about your family pet? Email your story to happytails@aspca.org and we might feature it on the ASPCA Blog!

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