March 15th, 2011 at 11:56 pm
True confession: I am a reluctant pet-store owner. I like animals just fine — over there, or at your house, or the zoo, or in nature, where they belong. But I’ve never been much of a pet person.
So imagine my surprise when my husband, who had recently been laid off, announced 19 years ago that he was buying a pet shop. Oh, and did I mention we had just had very premature twins? And that he had two older children living nearby with their mom?
Along the way, we had two more babies and I worked hard to convince all six children, whenever they asked for a pet (i.e., every three minutes), that they had hundreds of animals they could visit with daddy at the store. Didn’t fly.
If you’re a mom and already love animals, great. You’ll probably have no problem integrating pets into your family (or vice versa). If you’re like me — a little hesitant in the pet department — my best suggestion is to get over it. You see, children and animals go together like cotton candy and sticky fingers.
But fear not. Even a pet-phobe like me figured out that animals bring lots of good things to a family. There are teachable moments about unconditional love, respecting life, conservation, responsibility, and the joys and sorrows of the lifecycle. Of course, as the mom, you’re the one who will learn most of those lessons, but we can dream that our children will pick some of it up along the way.
In case you haven’t guessed, I eventually caved. So far we have had (not at the same time): a beautiful 115-gallon marine aquarium (my favorite pet by far); one Pacific parrotlet (the world’s smallest parrot); one cockatiel; two hermit crabs; and two Wheaton terriers — first Roscoe and now Hazel.
So now I find myself steeped in animalia, because in addition to our personal pets and the store, my stepdaughter is a keeper at Zoo Atlanta. It must be in the genes.
Before I go, I have one more confession, but don’t tell anyone: I kind of like all this animal stuff. I find myself making fishy birthday cakes, collecting pet jokes, and tracking beastly happenings around the country. Come along for the ride and discover with me that families and animals really do go together — reluctantly or not.