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I will never forget the morning my mom carried me outside, explaining, “You are going to get to stay in the backyard now, Lucky. You will have so much more room to hop and play.”
What? Outside? I have been indoors in a rabbit hutch my whole life. I don’t know how to defend myself outside.
Mom sat down on the patio with me in her lap. The sun was already high in the sky. A thousand strange smells filled my nose. I sat nervously not about to move from the security of Mom’s lap. My ears flattened against my back to shield them from a loud thumping and clanging noise that went past the other side of the fence.
“It’s just the garbage truck, Lucky. It’s alright. Come on, I will walk you around,” Mom said, placing me on the ground.
Mom stood up and took a few steps. I sat frozen in place for a moment, before deciding that it was better to follow her than stay by myself.
I hopped at Mom’s heels. As we left the patio, I froze again. Suddenly, I was next to a big body of water that stretched the length of the yard.
“Hop around the pool, Lucky. It’s not warm enough to swim yet,” Mom called.
I gave the pool a cautious glance and sniffed at the water as I crept to the edge. Nope. I am not going swimming.
I stayed along the flowerbed edge as I followed Mom around the pool.
As a branch brushed off Mom’s legs, it swung back into my face.
Pesky thing. I will get this off the path.
I easily chewed through the tomato plant branch, and was about to spit it out when, I realized this tastes delicious.
I watched Mom just up ahead of me as I munched on the branch. I then grabbed another branch as I hopped to catch up with Mom.
As I stopped at her feet, I noticed a small feathered creature walking under the brush just in front of where Mom and I stopped.
I stretched as long as I could to get a sniff of the new creature. Just as I was getting a whiff, the creature flapped and got itself up on the fence. I jumped in surprise and darted behind Mom’s legs.
“It’s ok, Lucky. It is just a bird,” Mom explained.
As I recovered from my scare, I grabbed a mouthful of the nearby bush. Hey, this bush is good too. I like this variety of treats. Maybe this yard won’t be bad.
We continued on around the pool. As Mom walked across the grass, to check on a spot by the fence, I took a mouthful of grass and a few slow hops on the grass.
The grass was soft and the sun was warm; the combination made me happy. I ran in a quick circle before frisking across the grass.
This is fun!
Mom and I continued across the grass, until we came to a big mound of dirt. Mom carefully stepped around it, but I sniffed it. As soon as I put my nose to it, dozens of tiny moving creatures came out of the dirt and crawled toward me.
I hopped back in surprise.
Mom knelt down next to me, “Leave the ants alone, Lucky. Let’s make sure none of them are on you.”
Mom brushed me off carefully, and then we continued back to the patio where we started.
“I am going to bring your food and water dish out here. I will be right back,” Mom told me.
I watched her disappear through the door to the house.
Who needs that old food dish when I have a whole yard of fresh greens.
I frisked off the patio and wandered through flower bed after flower bed, sampling each plant as I went.
As Mom reappeared from the house, I reached the grass on the backside of the pool, and I was frisking happily from one end to the other.
“You like it out here, don’t you, Lucky?” Mom asked.
I did another happy frisk and dashed, in response to show her my answer.
As I neared the bush again, the bird had returned. This time I was able to sniff him, and he eyed me without flying away.
I grabbed a mouthful of leaves and chewed thoughtfully. This yard isn’t scary any more. Now I have a new birdy friend, and all the fresh greens I can eat. I will like living outside.
Mom stayed outside with me awhile longer, but when she went inside, I barely noticed. I was flopped in the dirt next to the tomato plant. It’s shade was the perfect spot for an afternoon nap.
Yes, outside life is the life for me.
Misty has always taken her toys or post it notes from my desk and dropped them in her water dish. She then attracts her brothers attentions and all five cats will attempt to fish the toy or piece of paper from the dish with their paws splashing water on the floor.
I was curious what instinct made Misty want to take her toys or my post it notes to the water dish, so I started looking into it.
I was surprised to find there wasn’t one definite answer. Scientists are guessing at why cats take toys to their water dish. There are several theories. One is that cats are using their fishing/hunting instinct by putting the toy in the water and pawing at it. Another theory is that cats view their food and water dishes as a safe place. Since domestic cats don’t have a ‘nest’, they use their food and water dishes as a safe hiding place for their ‘catch’. A third theory is that the cat is trying to teach it’s human to hunt/fish by showing off their skills.
I will never forget the day, Mom told me we were leaving my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. This was the only home I had lived in since Mom adopted me at six months old.
Mom was excited as she said, “On February 15th we are moving into our very own place, Sonny.”
That’s only two weeks away. Shih-tzus don’t like change. Initially I was energized by Mom’s excitement, as I love to go anywhere with my mom. But, it didn’t take long for me to decide I didn’t want to go. As I watched all of my belongings being boxed up, and Mom shop for all sorts of supplies, I changed my mind.
When will I hear about anything other than the move? I don’t like all this commotion. I like it here with Grandma, Grandpa and the Westies. The past two years here have been great. Why do we have to move? I don’t want to have to stay anywhere by myself!
On the morning of February 15th, I watched as Mom loaded up the car with all of my toys and some other supplies.
Wait what are you doing with my stuff? No, don’t take that, I wasn’t done chewing it.
Mom then called, “Sonny, let’s go.”
The apartment complex wasn’t too far away, and soon Mom was leading me into the office. I had to sit quietly with Mom for what felt like forever. All we need is the key. Let’s go. I pulled on the end of my leash trying to explore.
“Just hold on a second, Sonny. We will go in just a minute,” Mom soothed and pulled me up into her lap.
Finally, we left the office and got back in the car. It was a short ride and Mom pulled the car into a garage. I waited eagerly to be lifted from the car. I was off leash, so I quickly took in all the strange smells that were here. It doesn’t smell like Grandma and Grandpa’s garage.
“Come on Sonny,” Mom called, “Let’s go see our new place.”
I followed Mom through the door and up the stairs.
Wow. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.
Mom wandered through the first floor and then disappeared up more stairs.
Wait where did you go, Mom? I don’t want to stay here alone!
Mom did a quick walk through of the upstairs and then said, “Let’s go unload the car.”
Out in the garage, I watched as Mom unloaded box after box from the car stacking them by the garage door. Suddenly, I saw the bag that contained my toys and bones. Mom also had my bed in her hands.
Wait. Where are you going?
I ran up the stairs after her.
Mom got up to the living room and quickly dumped the bag’s contents on the living room floor.
All right. I’ll take those.
I ran to the toys and shook one in glee. I then had to sniff and sort through the stack making sure none had been lost.
Phew, they are all here.
I picked up my stuffed tree trunk toy and wandered around the room.
Mom had carried the rest of the boxes from the garage while I was busy, and now called, “Sonny, come on, let’s go for a car ride.”
What was the hurry to get back in the car again?
I rode with Mom back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house where we got my grandparents help as we made another trip back to the apartment. Both cars were loaded up this time, and Mom and my grandparents worked quickly to unload the cars back at the apartment.
After following them up and down the stairs several times, I decided to just wait for them.
Those stairs are wearing me out.
I explored all the boxes and bags that were brought into the house.
When the last of the boxes were unloaded from the car, and Mom and my grandparents were in the kitchen unloading boxes, I decided to just shut my eyes for a quick nap.
I guess, I slept longer than I thought, because when I woke up the living room and kitchen were completely set up.
Boxes were no longer stacked everywhere. My toys and bones were in a basket next to the entertainment center.
I stretched, yawned and carried a bone over to the window. Wow, this view is great. Oh, there is a dog my size, let’s go make friends.
I turned around to find Mom, but everyone was heading upstairs.
I trotted after them, but by the time we went outside, the dog was gone.
I dosed on Mom’s futon bed, and watched Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa unpack.
It was almost dinner time, when I startled awake as everyone else heading back downstairs. I jumped off the futon and had to admit, this room now looked like Mom’s room at her parents house.
As I caught up with everyone downstairs, I overheard Mom say, “Thanks for all your help today. I will call you tomorrow.”
Grandma and Grandpa were heading for the door. Wait, where are you going?
“See you later, Sonny,” Grandma said scratching my head.
“Have a good night,” Grandpa said.
I was scooped into Mom’s arms and we watched her Grandpa back the car out of the driveway.
Left on our own, Mom fixed us dinner and took me for a walk that evening. I got to explore and mark my new territory.
Back at the apartment, Mom turned on the TV. Since I immediately fell asleep on the couch next to Mom, I was startled when Mom said, “Ok, it is time for bed, let’s go.”
Great. I am exhausted. Let’s not move again anytime soon ok?
Mom climbed into bed. She patted my head good night and said, “I love you, Sonny.” She laid down to go to sleep.
I love you too. I curled up at the foot of the bed.
This place is great after all. Nothing has changed between me and Mom. I have all my toys, bones, and a brand new window to entertain me.
Many children start asking for a pet at a very early age. Parents play an important role in teaching children the correct way to interact and care for pets. If introduced to the care of a pet in the proper way, pets can teach children a number of valuable skills. Today, I’m going to cover the top five skills: responsibility, patience, trust/respect, compassion, and self-esteem.
Responsibility: Parents can use a pet to teach children of any age responsibility. Pets require daily feeding, exercise, attention, and cleaning up after. Depending on the pet, they may also require regular brushing. No matter the age of the child, they can learn responsibility from the pet. Younger children can learn through one task such as feeding or playtime. Older children can learn how to care for a pet by performing multiple tasks daily. The tasks that are required to care for a pet are a small price to pay for such a loyal companion.
Patience: It takes patience to bond with a new pet. While the family is getting used to having a pet in the house; the new pet is becoming comfortable with its new surroundings. At this pivotal point in the new relationship, it is important that a child is taught the correct way to interact with the pet. A child will learn patience while the new pet becomes comfortable with the family.
Trust/Respect: The biggest part of this bonding time is building trust and respect between the family and the new pet. Children must be taught how to touch the pet gently, tend to its needs, and learn not to disturb the pet when it’s eating or sleeping. Once this relationship has been made, pets make wonderful trusted companions.
Compassion: The work that goes into building a relationship with a pet teaches children compassion. Caring for a pet requires compassion and understanding. The new pet can’t communicate with words what it needs. A child needs to be taught to understand the subtle body language that pets use to convey their desires. A pet needs a compassionate caretaker who can understand the pet’s required care.
Self-esteem: Pets show unconditional love to the family that cares for it. This love can be a great boost to a child’s self-esteem. A pet can be a constant companion for the child. The pet’s nonjudgmental love makes it easy for the child to confide in the pet. The skills used to build this relationship with a pet will also give the child the confidence to use these skills with others in their life.
Owning a pet teaches children how to respect others and build trusting relationships using patience and compassion. All this being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all children are ready for pet ownership. Parents should first make sure they are able to help their child with the pet. Together, the family should decide what type of pet is best. Moreover, don’t assume a child will take care of the pet without assistance from the first day. The ultimate responsibility usually falls on the parents, not the child, to make sure the pet is cared for properly. But allowing a pet to become a member of your family will benefit everyone involved.