The Pitter Patter of...Paws
Ahhhhhh – kids and animals. Does it get any better than experiencing the pure joy of watching them play together, exploring their world, looking at each other with nothing but love and fun mischief and just good ol’ happiness? I say you would be hard pressed to find anything more charming than that!
As adults, we are given many opportunities over a lifetime to shape the lives of children. Kids need to be taught so many things in order to become successful adults. There are, however, some things that simply cannot be taught. Children thrive on learning the joy of caring for a living being, understanding the peace that comes from offering selfless love, gentleness and compassion. And kids LOVE to laugh and play! One of the best ways to bring these character traits into the lives of kids is with a rescue animal…and there are plenty of animals in our area that need saving as much as our kids need them.
Adoption is always a possibility when it comes to helping an animal, but if you aren’t ready or able to adopt an animal, many shelters and rescues offer opportunities for children to read to the animals, while this can be done at any age. Depending on the child’s age and the shelter’s requirements, there are also other volunteer opportunities including walking the dogs, taking pictures, playing with the cats, etc. These animals need interaction with play and freedom from their cages, even just for a small amount of time. Kids are now also asking for animal donation items rather than birthday gifts at their parties. Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops have fundraisers. The possibilities are almost endless. So many animals in our area need help and by helping them, we are in turn helping our children by showing them how to look beyond themselves and care for others.
Teaching children to care for animals and show kindness towards them will help shape them into teens and adults who respect life and who will likely stand up for others and look for ways to make the world a better place. Punishments for animal abuse are becoming stricter. The FBI now considers animal abuse a felony. Animal abuse statistics are staggering and it’s time we change that. We need to be vigilant and raise this generation to be kind and to spread that kindness as far as they can.
If you choose to adopt an animal, the responsibility you give the child in your life will vary depending on the age of the child and type of animal you choose to adopt. At any age, these kids will discover what is means to offer love to, and be trusted by, another living being and in return will nurture a level of responsibility and inner strength that will only develop over time. These character traits will stay with them and carry over into other aspects of life as they get older. That is a life lesson that money simply cannot buy.