Many children want pets as presents during the holidays (and at other times of the year, too!). There are other ways that children can experience the joys that animals bring without actually giving one as a pet.
One way is for your family to foster dogs or cats in need, during the holiday season (and other times of the year). Not only will the kids enjoy the companionship of an animal but it is a much-needed service and a compassionate act that your kids may benefit tremendously from. This experience will allow your children to gain experience, learn responsibility and realize how important and challenging (as well as rewarding) it can be to care for a living being. There are many animal shelters and rescue groups that are in dire need of foster parents for their charges. Some need medical attention, others may have behavioral problems. Sometimes, the organizations just need to make more room to be able to take in other animals. Some rescue organizations run solely through the use of foster homes. By utilizing this option, you could create wonderful memories for your family and the foster pets.
Have you considered starting a dog-sitting service for people who need their pets looked after during the holidays (or at other times)? Not only can your kids enjoy the fun of playing with these pets but it is also an income-generating activity. Maybe this extra income can be set aside for the costs of a future pet, if you are considering getting one later on.
With both of these options, your children can learn about the different breeds of cats and dogs, their temperaments and how to care for them properly. Your kids can develop a great deal of empathy being around animals who have been abandoned or require special care. Of course it is also important that the animals staying at your home are kid-friendly. Some dogs and cats have been traumatized and might not do well around children.
These are just some alternatives to giving pets as gifts that can be fun and enriching and also be of great service to these animals and other people as well.
Be sure to take enough time to prepare the household and the home environment before taking in any animal. Until then, maybe your kids can get some practice time in by helping walk a neighbor’s dog.
If you don’t want live pets in the home, consider a pretend pet, such as a Zhu Zhu Pets hamster or a FurReal Friend.
Happy Gift Giving!