Four-Legged Family Planning

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

We've been considering an addition to our family. Let me be more specific: a four-legged addition. There is little debate it will be a dog and not a cat because of my husband's allergies. My family has had many lengthy discussions about what kind of dog will be the best fit for us, what we will name it and, of course, who will be responsible for it.

The responsibility piece remains my biggest concern. When we initially started talking about getting a dog, Ian was a bit younger. He maintained that he would walk the dog every day, twice a day, but when asked about curbing the dog - cleaning up after it - his enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. Instead he suggested, "Mom might be better at doing that."

As you might expect, this exchange prompted us to table dog discussions for a time. My husband Murvin and I changed the focus solely to responsibility and ownership. It didn't take long for Ian to relaunch his campaign for a pet - this time using our family's visit to the Circleville Pumpkin Show to help him. We hadn't even started Round One of the tasty pumpkin treats when Ian made a game stop and was quickly launching ping-pong balls into water-filled cups - and won a goldfish.

Of course we let him bring it home, thinking it would be a short stay. Ian named it "Finn." The goldfish moved from a small bowl to an aquarium in no time and three years later is still with us and clearly right at home.

Ian's campaign to prove his mettle and ability to take responsibility was a success. Now Murvin and I are moving into research mode. At first, I thought we were making too big a deal about all of this. The experts say families considering pets should keep in mind that children do learn responsibility, but according to the website, only adults can be truly responsible for a pet.

KidsHealth's experts say families should make the decision together and answer questions including: How much care will the pet require? What role will each family member play in the pet's care? What kind of medical care will the pet need? Who will care for the pet when you're away - for example, what will you do with the pet if you work long hours and the kids stay after school for basketball practice? What if your family travels a lot?

With so many questions and concerns, it has become clear the newest addition to our family isn't due anytime soon. Murvin and I want to make sure we are all ready to welcome a four-legged baby with everything it needs. Pets come to love us unconditionally. As we prepare to take this next big step, we're making sure we're ready to return that love.