Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Which pet shall we chose?

When we moved house last year, we told the children that we would eventually get a pet. Growing up I had a variety of pets - dogs, cats, hamsters, budgies. I used to love cuddling them, walking them (we had a cat who enjoyed walking to the shops) and playing hide and seek. Again our rather mischevious black cat would hide in the coal so we could only see her eyes peering through the darkness and when given the chance would run and get stuck behind the furniture. The only part about having a pet that I really didn't like was cleaning up, this job was my dad's!

There is so much to consider when trying to chose a pet: Where will it live? How much does it cost to buy? What food does it eat? Is it expensive? How much time do you need to commit to looking after it? Can you leave it alone during the day?

Initially we discussed getting a dog. We live near lots of parks, dogs are great companions, the children seemed keen and there are dog exercise and training classes nearby. However, a few months ago my four year old got knocked over by two huge dogs and one of them licked the baby in the face. So for a while the girls were scared of dogs and having one as a pet was completely out of the question.

Cute: How could you resist those gorgeous puppy dog eyes?!
Then we met Ben, a gorgeous and gentle dog who had just been bought by my friend Maria. I had invited Maria to stay with us but was rather unsure about having a dog in the house. After some consideration I thought it would help the girls get over their fear and of course, I didn't leave either of them alone with Ben. Abi, who had just turned one, took to Ben almost immediately. Eventually she was dangling her food from the high chair (apparently I did this too, at a similar age), and trying to encourage him to play with her by rolling a ball or toy to him. Since then she has been really confident around dogs, even ones bigger than herself. However, Sophie remains rather cautious around dogs. So we thought it was best to postpone our decision about getting a dog.
Walkies: Maria, Abi and Ben at the park
Even though I love walking and running and we have so many parks nearby, I'm not sure I have enough time to dedicate looking after a dog. I don't think it's really fair to leave a dog alone for a few hours during the day and as I will soon be working again (only part-time, fortunately), this is a major consideration. Holidays also would be an issue. I remember my parents putting one of our dogs in kennels, he seemed to enjoy it but I think it can be rather costly.

As a family we have discussed what other pets we like. Being a typical girl, Sophie wants a horse. Barbie has one, so why can't she?! Since moving house, my love of cats has dwindled. They can be such pests, always running through my garden and leaving little surprises in the flower beds. Apparently if we got a cat, other cats would not invade its territory, which would be useful. But my husband doesn't like cats, I think he views them as a pet for an old lady. It's definitely not a very manly pet, not like a dog.

Who's the Boss? Ben takes the driving seat!
So which pet should we get? Personally, I find hamsters and gerbils too small. Also I don't really want a pet that has to live inside. I can cope with the smell and the mess outside but not in the house! Budgies are beautiful and very funny when they start talking to themselves. But they aren't cuddly or as cute as many other pets.

Curious: Abi is fascinated by the speedy gerbils
Yesterday, the children got the opportunity to stroke and cuddle a few pets, a hen, rabbit and guinea pig. The hen was surprisingly soft but definitely not an option as a pet! The rabbit was really cute and fluffy. Although when I was younger, I remember being very keen to have a rabbit. But after the initial enthusiasm wore off, I lost interest. Apparently rabbits can be a bit tempermental and prone to nip. Therefore not a good idea for anyone with young children, especially toddlers who like to prod and poke!
Fluffy: are rabbits as cute as they look?
Finally, the children got to cuddle a guinea pig. As her older sister held the guinea pig, Abi rushed over and immediately poked it, narrowly missing an eye. But the guinea pig didn't jump, squeal, retaliate ... anything! Indeed, it appears that we have found the perfect pet for us. It's cute, cuddly, good natured, fantastic with children and is not too expensive. It won't get too lonely if we're out for a while and is a lot easier to look after than a dog. Perhaps one of this best things about this decision, is that we all agree!

The perfect pet: cute, cuddly and friendly


  1. Awww, so cute! I've never had a guinea pig and don't know much about them. But I commend you on your decision not to get a dog. They are tying and very demanding and should most definitely not be left in a house while people go out to work. Though of course, this does happen often.

    Hope you have many happy years with your guinea pig.

    CJ xx

  2. Thanks, we haven't got one yet but think we definitely will. I would love a dog but you have stated the main reasons why a dog is not for us at the minute.

  3. Hiya, we have 2 dogs Reuben and Charley and two small children also. I'm a social worker and let me please enlighten you on a few things, facts to me. Children who grow up around pets have a proveably lower risk of asthma and a heightened immune system. Equally its a fact that many violent criminals, murderers etc show evidence of harming animals in their past. Google it. Its fact. Kismet and Star are the most well adjusted kids in their class according to their teacher and I put that down as much to having pets as a good family. Get a small dog, so easy to take care of or pop in the car, they will teach your children everything. Alison

  4. Hi Alison, that is fasinating reading! We have 3 dogs called Tim and Roger, my daughter Shania loves them and I've caught her crawling over to their bowl and drinking their water frequently! Her imunne system is actually pretty impressive! I agree, if you cant love an animal you cant love a child. Rhania

  5. Hi Rhania, I actually judge my social work families without animals quite negatively. I'd far rather see a child taken into care where there is no dog left behind than one with a dog. The dog can often take the part of the parent by guarding the child and keeping it safe, I allow some quite atrocious parenting where I know the dog will keep the child safe. Equally if the parents can't extend their love to an animal how can they love a child? Alison

  6. Whatever you do, don't get a cat - they're into saucery.


  7. Thanks for your comments. Definitely agree that it's good for children to grow up with a pet.
    Alison, just wondered how long you would leave your dog alone at home? I'm going back to work soon so that would be an issue for me.

  8. I am a paramedic and have seen what guinea pigs are capable of if provoked. Two words...exercise caution! I'd recommend fish, I've never yet seen a fish related injury.

    Love the blog,


  9. Hi Sarah, it depends on the type of dog, a big one needs let out to do its sherbet mushrooms more often than a little one. Our wee one can go happily for a work day if given the freedom of the house and we've never come home to find a chocolate selection box or lemonade shandy anywhere. The occasional mint accordion but thats par for the course. Alison

  10. Stella,

    fish? Are you crazy? I knew this one girl who went for one of those fish pedicures and they ate her little toe off!! They are just pure evil!! Best just to encourage your children to have imaginary friends.

    Judy Swallows

  11. There's so much to consider when deciding which pet to get!
    Stella, what guinea pig related injuries have you seen?

  12. Hi Sarah,
    I've just discovered your blog and I LOVE it so much! GO O.M.!! (currently doing a cheerleader dance in the living room...might put it up on youtube)
    Anyhoo, great comments about pets / children situations. I have 5 small children (don't ask) and a cat. It's funny because people say you shouldn't have a cat around babies because sometimes they sit on their faces, but oddly I found the opposite true. Quite often I'd come home from shopping and Stanley would have his chubby bottom rolled onto Saskia's head. Our vets bills are very high this year, I can tell you! Normally I wouldn't dream of having a vet on speed dial, but our local one is rather handsome and I can't say for certain that Saskia would still be alive had that not been the case...
    Anyhoo, I currently have a bit of a vomiting problem and wondered if anyone had any advice...?
    Saskia is going through a 'picky' phase with her food and if anything is given to her under £5 per bowl she will immediately throw it up. Unfortuantely if the children see her doing this, it sets off a kind of chain reaction, and I'll then have 6 piles of sick to clean up.
    Any suggestions?

    Loving your work, Rhonda

  13. Sarah, due to confidentiality rules I am not allowed to be too specific but let's just say that young patient x will not be a concert pianist when he grows up. Though in fairness his mum did tell me that he's provoked the guinea pig by trying to put a straw up its bum - I've no idea why!

    Judy - really?? That's crazy, I'm glad I've never gone for a fish pedicure. Did they complain to Watchdog?

    Good luck with the new pet Sarah, let us all know how you get on,

    Be safe guys,


  14. Rhonda, thanks for your lovely comments, I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. I used to have a cat that only ate dog food, so you could try that. Can you ask your handsome vet for advice?

    Stella, I suppose most animals would retaliate if provoked and little kids can be quite mean. My son wants to be a doctor, though, so will have to give it a bit of thought before we decide. I don't like the sound of a fish pedicure either, a normal one is fine for me!

  15. Rhonda, I'd try buying pet food from Lidl but then put it in a leftover Waitrose packet. That will surely fool your posh pussy.

    All the best,

    Reggie (short for Regina)

  16. Thanks so much guys for your comments. I've been a little sad for the past few days. I took a combination of your advice and gave Saskia some Lidl dog food. Three hours later she was foaming at the mouth - I rang Raymond the Vet but she was comatosed by the time he managed to call round.
    Fingers crossed she'll come out of it soon.
    Feel free to take some time out and say a prayer for little Sas... :-(

  17. Rhonda, sorry to hear about Saskia. How is she?
    Hope she is doing well x