No Pets, Sorry

No Pets, Sorry | HSLDA Blog

My poor son. There he sat at the front of the library class, the only kid not raising his hand in response to the question, “Do you have a pet at home?” We were attending one of those wild animal classes that are sometimes done at birthday parties, where kids get to learn about animal facts and pet some exotic animals, like chinchillas and baby alligators.

Our kids have endlessly begged for a pet and we have yet to give in. So, my sad son sat with his hands in his lap while all the other kids raised theirs, to eagerly tell about their dogs and hamsters.

Yesterday—I promise I am not making this up—my son resorted to playing with the ants in our kitchen. I overheard him ask, “Daddy, do ants eat peaches?” He wanted to find the perfect food to offer them. He actually built a slide out of his toy blocks, so these new “pets” would have something to play on.

Either we are really pathetic for not letting our kids have a pet, or we are forcing them to reach new heights in creativity to come up with very inventive ideas for “pets.”

Maybe both.

The problem is that some days, I still feel like it takes heroic effort to keep my own kids alive, let alone worry about tending to an animal. I also like the idea of being as mobile as a family with four young(ish) kids can be, and not having to worry about finding a sitter for our pet. We also have several family members who are very allergic.

See all these good reasons? You’re on my side, right?

When my oldest daughter asked for a dog once, we told her that maybe she can get one when she’s grown up and has her own house. Her response was, “I need one now because sometimes when you grow up you don’t like dogs anymore.” (Example given: her own parents.)

To further add to the misery of my kids, when they ask us to tell stories from our childhood, more often than not, these stories include pets that we had.

In my defense, we do try to get animals in and out of our house for “educational purposes.” We have purchased caterpillar kits several times to observe metamorphosis. That has been really awesome. What is even more awesome, is that we get to release the butterflies and bid them farewell after a time. “Bye, bye butterflies! Nice knowing you!”

There was one time, however, when one of the butterflies hatched and had a deformed wing. We kept her in our kitchen for an extra two weeks after we had released all her friends. I kept waiting for her to die. I kept thinking, “Butterflies don’t live all that long, right?”

No Pets, Sorry | HSLDA Blog

Three-year-old Carson, at the library animal show, getting ready to pet a baby alligator.


Well, the little rascal kept on living and living. Can you believe it? After her two extra “grace weeks” were up, I told my kids that we needed to release this dear butterfly and wish her the best, and let nature take its course, even though she would likely be bird food within a few hours. We lovingly placed her under a flower bush with an orange slice nearby.

We have also taken part in a Chick Foster Care program through our library. On two separate occasions we have brought baby chicks into our house and kept them for a series of weeks, to track their development. The kids have enjoyed keeping journals to note how the chicks have grown and changed, and taking pictures of the chicks. I have so many memories of all the neighbor kids crowding into our house to play with the chicks. They were held more often than they were left in their box. Frankly, I’m surprised the chicks survived the program. But, they did. And much fun was had by all involved (except, maybe the chicks).

So, I’m not completely mean. I do allow temporary animals in our home, as long as there is a clear departure date outlined in the arrangement.

Maybe we will cave some day and let our kids have “real” pets. If we do, I’m sure I will blog about it.

For now, I need to stop writing, because I need to go slice up some peaches for my son to feed the ants!


Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; second image by Amy Koons.

15 thoughts on “No Pets, Sorry

  1. It’s really great that you wrote this about the same time I wrote about finally getting our pet! You at least get them in contact with animals, which is more than I did before we got our bunny. As I wrote, some of us can’t do pets while the kids are little. It’s just a matter of what we can handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “’I need one now because sometimes when you grow up you don’t like dogs anymore.’ (Example given: her own parents.)”

    Amy: Your daughter’s response is beautiful, poignant, and perceptive. Her point deserves serious and genuine self-reflection on your part. With the assistance of a trusted guide, you may discover helpful insight regarding your own motivations.

    Grace & Peace,


  3. I grew up with a “pet.” It was a cat. Its “job” was to hunt mice. It was never allowed in the house. My mother would feed it, but not much, so it could be hungry enough to hunt.
    I remember it jumping on my lap in the mornings when I was in the porch waiting for the school bus.

    In my teenage years, a little dog was offered to us. Its “job,” or should I say, “purpose” was to help my little sister overcome her fear of dogs. This dog became eventually my mom’s. It would sleep with her on her bed, and eat in her bedroom. We all loved this cute little dog, and enjoyed playing with it. It died of old age 17 years later. We never had another dog.

    I have three children -all teenagers now- and when they were little, occasionally they would ask for a dog, but I never gave in.
    Although I have good memories of the animals in my life, I prefer not to have hair on my furniture or clothes, have to walk it every day, have to worry about its well being, and all the added responsibilities and costs of having an animal living with you.

    Have my children had a miserable life because they grew up without a pet? Of course not.
    I told my children they can have their own pet when they have their own house. They cannot wait 🙂


  4. Volunteering for a rescue group could be a best of both worlds compromise. They are always looking for help and in most cases they cover the expenses.


  5. “I need one now because sometimes when you grow up you don’t like dogs anymore.”
    That quote broke my heart.
    We got a dog. Did mom want one? Not so much? Did the kids want one? Immeasurably.
    People believe that children just want to get the pet, but when the family brings one home, it just becomes another of mom’s responsibilities. Whether I walk the dog or not, it’s beautiful to see my children greet her each morning like a member of the household & not a pet. It’s beautiful to watch them play & run with her in the yard, to snuggle with her on the floor, to see their friends greet her like she’s one of them!
    Yes, your daughter will be able to keep her own dog as an adult if she still wants one, but she will never have the memories of being tender toward her own pet when she was at a tender age herself. She will not have a companion for the present who will not judge her. Perceived or not, she feels judged by others (even her own parents).
    Barring a life threatening allergy, I would not persist in denying your child this pleasure. It’s not a game system or iPhone, it’s a living being, capable of giving & receiving love.
    To paraphrase an old saying: no one on their death bed said, “Man, am I ever glad I persistently denied my young children a pet!”


  6. Thanks …I’m going to show this to my kids they think they are the only ones without pets. I’m extremely allergic to cats and dogs and quite frankly I just don’t like animals. Though my kids don’t really even have the option of having cat/dog when they move out if they ever want me to come to their home:) sometimes they get my husband whom they have wrapped around their finger trying to figure out how they can get one and I have to put my foot down. We do have friends with pets so they get to interact with them there.


  7. I am a pet person. I waited until I was all grown up to get my own animals. Most of my animals are livestock, they live outside, they generally fend for themselves. My children still beg for a pet, something that is theirs. They are told they can either help me care for my animals, or they can wait and buy their own when they have their own home. It is part or becoming a responsible adult. Btw, my 4 year old is my best helper with the livestock, not her older siblings.


  8. There is so much more they learn from having a pet to love. They only have one short childhood. You are depriving them of some of the greatest moments in their lives. Sad children.


  9. I commend you for your honesty and for knowing yourself well enough to see that let ownership is not for you. I expect you will get lots of negative feedback, so I just want to say keep doing what you know is the right thing for you and your family. Pet ownership is a huge responsibility for a mom and it’s not easy to get out of once your kids have bonded to the pet.


  10. Hi,

    I am a psychology student doing a research project involving kids and emotional intelligence. I am looking for parents to ask their kids if they would like to complete this short, fun survey (it probably can be done by kids 7-14 years old). There is a parental consent page with full details. Surveys are anonymous.

    Any kids are welcome but I am especially looking for kids how are currently without pets.


    Jenn Brown


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