People often say that pets are wonderful for teaching children a sense of responsibility, and how to care for another creature. In my opinion, it’s not just children that can learn from them, adults can as well. I’ve had pets nearly all my life, and I wouldn’t be without them. I’ve learnt so much from them, and continue to do so. Here are some of the things that I think pets can teach us – without even trying.
Whatever your age, you may never have had to take responsibility for yourself, never mind someone else. My cats rely on me to feed them, look after their welfare, and keep them housed. Through having them in my life, I’ve learned to take control of my own life.
2. Unconditional Love
It may sound a bit cynical, but I think that truly unconditional love is rare in humans, except in children. With animals, however, there are no conditions – they either love you, or they don’t. And yes, I do believe that animals are capable of love. Cats are stereotyped as aloof or deceptive, but mine have given me so many indications that they hold genuine affection for me.
Again and again it has been demonstrated that animals can reach autistic children in a way that other people can’t (read this story for an example). Animals can teach that it’s safe to give your trust – they never let you down and show that it’s safe to give affection.
I’ve joked before that there is not a great deal of difference between having children and having pets. Animals teach you to have patience (or is it force you?). If they do something annoying, like damage your furniture or wake you up in the middle of the night, there’s no use getting annoyed with them or trying to reason with them. Instead, you have to keep your cool and work out a way to deal with their behaviour.
Do you ever feel that life has become routine, or that you’re so beset by problems that you’ve forgotten how to have fun? One great things about animals is that they show us how simple it can be to enjoy yourself. Throwing a ball to your dog, or getting your cat to chase a piece of string, is easy, simple and fun. Plus even without trying, they amuse us by doing daft and funny things.
Given that so many of us live in urban settings, with hardly any signs of nature, we can become very detached from the natural world. Having pets allows us the opportunity to observe and enjoy the company of animals. For children, it teaches them about animals, their lives and their characteristics.
7. Coping with Loss
At some point in our lives, we all have to face the loss of a loved one. Some say that losing an animal is not the same, but it does give us an example of how to cope with the loss of something that meant a great deal to us. As for children, when they lose a pet they also learn that death is a part of the cycle of life, and can thus be prepared to a degree for when it happens to a grandparent, for example.
What else do you think that animals can teach us – is there something that you have gained from having pets?
Top Photo Credit: ♥ Spice ♥