Why Kids Love Their Pets More Than Humans

We got ourselves a second dog by mistake. There, I said it. We had been cruising along happily with Pearl, our very well-behaved West Highland terrier and the two (fairly) well-behaved kids when I got caught in a vulnerable moment. A vulnerable moment that allowed for the extremely cute puppy photos that were sent to me, get into my heart. They weren’t for sale, they just needed new homes, and like I say, they were VERY cute.

Poochi landed at our house and was received with love. He was tiny and could fit under the couch if he needed somewhere to hide. When he could no longer fit under the couch he would, instead, chew and pee on said couch. Which reminds me, we really need a new couch.

Then he chewed all the skirting boards, shoes, precious teddies, legs of chairs and tables; he peed everywhere, but mostly in the downstairs bathroom, which we are eternally grateful for; he shed hair over the furniture, the floors; and he fought with our beloved Pearl who stared at us, accusatorily, for upending her previously very comfortable life.

What seemed like a very beautiful comfort and addition to our family at the time became, I’m sorry to say, a bit of a pain in the arse. We contemplated re-homing him (very briefly), until we realised that this wasn’t our dog, this wasn’t for us. This new little fella who lived in our house and chewed all our things… well, he belonged to the kids.

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They ADORE him, they can’t wait to see him in the morning. They kiss him good morning before I’ve had even so much as a hello. Their lips tremble if he needs a visit to the vet or if he swallows an entire dry Wheetabix and looks like he’s choking (cue me injecting vials of water into his mouth and massaging his throat while they wailed in the background).

Why do kids love their pets so much? Where does that deep, deep love come from?

  • Experts are only getting to grips with why there is such a special bond between children and animals. From a psychological point of view, it is apparent that children truly enjoy the unconditional love aspect of being around a family pet. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that having pets around can increase a child’s self-esteem and assist in developing their ability to interact socially.
  • Humans have an inherent interest in nature and animals too. Most people (even grumpy adults!) show a real compassion for animals. It’s built into them!
  • There is also a real and beautiful instinct in children to want to care for creatures who are more vulnerable than themselves. Despite Pearl the Westie now being older than absolutely all of us, our kids treat the dogs like babies. They walk them, feed them, bathe and sadly for the dogs, sometimes clothe them. They talk to them in tiny baby voices and I have heard on more than one occasion that they wish the dogs could talk back. Personally, I have enough bodies talking back to me in this house, so I’ll pass!

Sharyn Hayden

Sharyn is the author of comedy smash, 'I Forgot to Take My Pill!' (Amazon) and mammy to two amazing kids, Jacob and Eva. She blogs at RaisingIreland.com and is the creator of Skinny Batch Bakery in North Co. Dublin.

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