Kids and pets – a great combination

Published 8:27 pm Friday, April 8, 2011

My dog has taken up licking every thing in sight. From the carpet to the kitchen floor to the couch and even the pants of visitors he’s just met, no surface goes untasted. It’s another of his personality quirks that we are learning to accept.

The experience has reminded me of my first dog, a Brittany Spaniel that my mom bought when I was still in elementary school. That dog and I grew up together, and she had a stubborn personality that would often get her in trouble.

I always took it upon myself to defend her more obtuse character traits to my parents. Like when she ate plastic grocery bags, which she did at least once a year, despite the fact the results were always disastrous for her tummy. Or when someone would ask her to sit and she would ignore the request until someone she actually liked repeated the command.


Email newsletter signup

In return she accepted my quirks. Like how I would continually rescue and release the grasshoppers she loved to catch in her spare time. Or how I often kept her up at night, curled up with a book in my closet to keep my parents from catching sight of my reading light.

In short, we were fast friends, as kids and their pets tend to be. Pets provide children with a presence that won’t judge them and won’t tell them what to do. They offer a listening ear and constant companionship.

Sunday will be a great day to consider adopting a best friend for your child. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Suffolk Humane Society and Suffolk Animal Control will sponsor an adopt-a-thon at Chesapeake Square PetSmart, 4300 Portsmouth Blvd.

“We have lots of loving dogs and cats available, and they are just waiting for a new forever home,” said Debie Jefts, shelter manager for Suffolk Animal Control. “We hope people will come by to see them and give them a little love and attention that day. Of course, we hope that some will decide to add a new pet to their family also.”

But not all children are lucky enough to be able to have four-legged reading buddies. That’s where another Suffolk Humane Society program comes in.

Through a program dubbed B.A.R.K.S. (Books And Reading for Kids in Suffolk), the society seeks to give kids the chance to enjoy the benefits of having a pet, if only for a short time. From 9 a.m. to noon every second Saturday, including today, children can read to certified therapy dogs at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 213 N. Main St.

The Humane Society says children can learn self-esteem and cultivate reading skills through the program.

Considering the fact that so many of my childhood memories of my dog involve reading, I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. With that in mind, I encourage parents to take 20 minutes out of their day and give their children the gift of confidence through this excellent program.