My family’s dogs are very much a part of our family. All three came our way either through adoption or taking them into our homes because their owners were no longer able to care for them.
Dogs have been a part of my entire life. I grew up north of Nashville in Robertson County on a 140-acre farm with an entire menagerie of animals and birds. My husband also loves animals and we never imagined not raising our girls along with our family pets. Our girls have grown up living alongside their furry siblings and I may or may not take as many pictures of my dogs as my kids.
Having a dog is a big responsibility and pet ownership is not something to be entered into lightly. Adopting a family dog can teach your kids some wonderful life lessons and bring your family closer through shared experience and responsibility.
Here are a just a few life lessons we’ve learned through adopting dogs:
Dogs provide companionship. Our dogs are truly bonded to our family. Whether we are taking them for a walk in the neighborhood, playing fetch in the backyard or snuggling with them on the sofa, our dogs are loving members of our family.
Dogs teach kids empathy. Dogs are extremely social animals. They can be very attuned to their owners and express their happiness or fear very easily. Dogs can even be trained to be certified rescue dogs or work with the disabled. Kids can quickly learn to read their dogs’ emotions and help them feel more secure.
A recent study reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that pets provide meaningful social support for owners and improve their lives. While previous research has found that people facing serious health challenges fare better with pets, this study found that people can benefit from pet ownership under everyday circumstances as well.
“Pet owners were happier and healthier than non-owners, and thoughts of one’s pet could insulate one from feeling down following a social rejection experience,” the researchers said.
Dogs teach kids responsibility. Dogs rely on their owners 100 percent for food, water, shelter and exercise. Helping take care of a pet’s needs can be incorporated into your family’s daily chores and is a wonderful way to teach kids the responsibility of caring for another living thing.
Dogs teach kids about life. Putting our beloved Corgi/German Shepherd mix Bailey to sleep a few years ago was heartbreaking. We prepared our girls for her death, and they were able to say goodbye in their own special ways. Losing a pet helps kids understand the cycle of life and the grieving process.
Being a dog owner is a big responsibility and adopting an animal is a great way to help your local shelter or animal rescue organization have the capacity to help even more pets in need of homes. Before you head to your local shelter, be sure to research breeds of dogs to determine what may be the best breeds for your family. You’ll also want to decide if you want a small or large breed dog, short-haired or long-haired breed and take into consideration any other home issues, such as whether or not your will need to fence in your yard. There are many wonderful resources available online to help ensure you find the perfect tail-wagging furry family member.