Why Having a Family Pet Isn’t Necessary

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My children are 8 and 11 and we’ve never had a family pet. Not one.

This isn’t something my husband or I have mandated. It’s just a state of being we’ve agreed on with our kids over and over again. And every time we hear about the latest “accident,” chewed-up shoe or astronomical vet bill from our friends, we’re reminded why we’ve continued to make this choice.

My husband and I had a dog before our first child was born. We adopted Boo, a black Lab mix, from the Michigan Humane Society. She fit right into our newlywed home and kept me active throughout my pregnancy as I walked her to the local dog park every day.

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But when we our son arrived, my husband quickly lost patience with Boo. We would finally get the baby down when Boo would clamber under the bed, waking V so we’d have to start the bedtime routine all over again. Then, once Jeff and I thankfully found our way into that precious, foggy, new parent sleep, Boo would inevitably start scratching to go outside.

Add to that her digging up our yard, shedding all over the house, breaking free of her tether and leading us on neighborhood chases – and my husband had enough.

Jeff found her a good home with his brother’s loving family, and we still get to see Boo. Occasional visits are enough.

I guess we’re not the sentimental type.

Over the years, we’ve thought about getting another dog and have researched breeds for the right fit, but once we discuss the responsibilities of building a fence, scooping the poop, training it to behave, kenneling it if we leave town and the myriad other duties that go along with dog ownership, we put it off once more.

Since my kids have been raised in a petless house, all they know is getting jumped on and sniffed by their friends’ pets, the unleashed dog that noses into our picnics at the local park and the incessant barking of the shepherds down the street, which seem to get left outside all day while the neighbors are at work. Sure, there are some sweet dogs who win the kids over, but many are undisciplined, and their owners don’t seem to realize not everyone appreciates their dogs like they do.

We’ve also considered other types of pets, then talked ourselves out of them. Cats? Allergic. Bunnies or hamsters? They get lonely unless you have two, and then you’re likely to end up with a lot more. Plus, cleaning the cage – ick. Lizards or salamanders? Zero cuddle factor. A bird? Maybe. Fish? Why?

So back to dogs. They seem like the most rewarding choice if we were to take the plunge. And I know our apprehensions would probably melt away if we brought one home and fell in love.

But every time I get the urge to make a trip to the humane society, my kids remind me we’re a “no pets family” and I put it on the back burner again.

Maybe we’re overthinking the whole thing, but for now, we’re happy as a strictly human household.

Harrison Township mom Rebecca Thomas weighs in on why a family pet is an important addition. Read about her pro-pet stance here.

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