Toddlers and animals
One of the things our family does is act as foster carers for abandoned kittens. It was one of those chance things we signed up for and now do on a fairly regular basis.
This means we take them in until they’re old enough to be adopted out to loving homes. While they’re with us they get used to living in a family environment and know the stability of a routine, and probably most importantly, learn how to use the kitty litter ;)
It’s amazing to see terrified kittens who’ve often been badly treated, arrive at our place and within days they’re running round the place chasing their tails and snuggling up with the kids.
But to me there is something far more important, it has actually taught my children to be far more considerate and thoughtful as well. Mr Small has learned that he needs to be gentle with small kittens and they in turn have learned to avoid his over enthusiastic clutches on occasion.
In fact, with one kitten who was clearly the runt of the litter I could see how Mr Small had singled it out for affection. Within days the kitten became his faithful shadow trotting round him everywhere. At one point he tried to clamber into the bath with him and was removed just in time.
The lovely thing about watching my children with the animals is not only the laughter and fun they have, but also the fact that they know they’re doing something that will be good for other families. On occasion when we have returned them to the Haven for adoption the kittens have been adopted almost immediately by other families who have arrived to get one for their own family.
When my kids are bigger we hope to help out by walking the dogs at the local dog haven. I’d never seen myself as an animal person until recently but I’ve learned that they are so vulnerable.
It’s such an easy thing to do and had shown me that it is important to teach my kids to share and have empathy for others. And yes, while it can be messy and smelly on occasion, a little like small children sometimes, the rewards have been much greater than the little bit of help itself.
Do you have pets? How do they get on with your kids?