Bringing a Furry Friend Home

As a mother with young children, when is the right time to introduce a pet?

Growing up, pets were always part of the picture in my family.  Living in the Sacramento Valley allowed for a large home, large yard and a lot of animals. Cats, fish, hamsters, dogs, to be sure, there were names and stories to every one of them.

Now, as a mother with a young child and no pets, I’ve been wondering, what is the best time to introduce a new animal into the family, and how will effect the young children of the house? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 63 percent of all households in the United States have a pet, so we would be in good company, considering the number of families who have added a furry friend into the home environment.

Perhaps it boils down to exactly what kind of pet we might consider bringing home, and exactly how much responsibility I would expect my child to have in caring for this pet. Seeing that my daughter is only just 2, the answer at this point would probably be NOT MUCH.

Parents of young children probably will agree with the thought of bringing home a puppy or kitten, or even a full grown dog or cat will make more work for the head of household. The kitty litter, the dog bowls that my daughter can’t keep her hands out of (when she's at our friend’s house), the hair, the mud, etc.

Then the thought of my parent’s home comes to mind. It was large, with a double lot backyard. Currently my family and I live in a two bedroom teeny tiny house with a front yard. Seeing that new pets want to be treated as members of the family, rather than tied to a tree or locked in a crate, I’m not sure if our current residence would be the best for a new pet.

Last but not least I’m thinking about the extra mile a pet owner must go to ensure that their pet is cared for during any vacation or time away from the family home. It’s not as easy as hiring the neighborhood boy anymore, especially if you don’t have enough yard for your pet to enjoy.

All these reasons are lining up and pointing towards “NOT READY,” but what about the love a pet can offer? What about the fun games a child and their pet may play? Clearly, it’s these reasons that outweigh the latter, as the work involved pays off for the owners of 75 million dogs and about 85 million cats Pet Food Institute says there are in the United States.

As much as my family would love a pet, I think we will be waiting until our living situation changes. However, if a new pet or a first pet is something your family is considering, there are wonderful sources in San Rafael and Marin County to help find the perfect addition to the household.

The Foundation is a nonprofit domestic animal sanctuary that has dozens of dogs and cats looking for new homes. in the Montecito Shopping Center offers adoption days monthly, as does in the Northgate One Shopping Center. Just up the road in Novato, the specializes in adoption of unwanted but loving pets.


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