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Growing Up with Pets Makes Us Kinder

Shalini Agarwal   •   9 Oct, 2023   •   6 mins

Children who grow up with pets learn to be more responsible, sensitive, and patient. 

A sweet moment between a kid and his pet. Photo by freepik.

As I look back over my childhood years, I do not recall a time when we did not have at least one pet in the house. Having a pet was an intrinsic part of growing up. Sometimes, we grew up together and were more friends; at other times, the pet was the older sibling and behaved as such. 

The author, Shalini's ma'ams, doggo named Bolt.

Today, with dwindling house help, working mothers and nuclear families, parents are opting out of keeping pets. They rightfully worry about the cost of maintaining a pet, the responsibilities that will be added but not shared, and the sheer logistics of keeping a pet when no one is home to take care of the little furry friends. These are just reasons and a huge deterrent to many families from keeping pets.

But, before we decide on keeping our houses pet-free, certain important factors need to be considered. Pets play a huge role in a child’s mental and emotional well-being. It is sometimes a sheet anchor in a child’s life during the troublesome teenage years, as its love and support are unconditional and total. All pets, especially dogs, have a very large heart and remember only the kindness of their humans. To be a recipient of such love is a blessing that no child should be deprived of.

Little Bolt sleeping.

Many hospitals also have dogs visiting patients for a hug and a cuddle. Known as therapy dogs, they have resulted in quicker patient recovery and have been instrumental in many patients feeling more optimistic about their illnesses. So, what is it about pets, especially dogs, that results in a surge of positive energy in humans? Why do we all adore seeing cute puppy or adult dog videos and reels? For the very simple and basic reason that they are joy and innocence personified.

When a pet enters our house, they also make their way into our hearts. Children learn and love to take care of their pets. And learn a lesson of being kind and caring, which no book or talk can teach. To take care of someone is the biggest step in becoming responsible and sensitive. Many studies have shown how petting dogs reduce stress levels; it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases the feel-good hormone oxytocin.

A little girl reading her storybook to a sleepy pet. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

There are countless videos of the unadulterated joy on a child’s face as they frolic with their furry friends. Pets teach us to be patient as we learn to hear them without their speaking, and thus become intuitive as well. Growing up with pets is the biggest blessing that a child can have. To love someone unconditionally and to have someone love you back without any conditions is a joy only pets can give. They become the champions of the entire family, especially children. And they teach us love, kindness, patience, tolerance, and joy in simple activities that, at times, are forgotten in the whirl of our busy lives. So, I would say to all parents, if you can, step out and adopt a pet. You will never regret it and find that you have the time and the room in your heart for it.

Ms. Shalini Agarwal is the Principal of Dwarka International School, New Delhi. She was recently awarded the prestigious 'Brave Souls Award 2023' for the work done by her in the capacity of an Educator and Principal.