How having pets as a child was the best teacher
Growing up, we had every animal you can think of. Goats, chickens, pigs, cows, a horse, mice, dogs, cats... my brother even had a few snakes! I was an active member for 10 years in an agricultural club in the USA called 4-H (the UK equivilant is Young Farmers). I then volunteered after for roughly 6 years as a mentor. This allowed me not only to sharpen my animal husbandry and care skills, but to learn other things along the way. And in many ways, this is why I regard growing up around so many species of animals as a child as the best teachers life gave me.
Pets can make great teachers in many ways. But if you are buying or adopting a pet for a child, be active in helping/teaching them about taking care of it, but do not soley rely on it. Do not let the pet suffer for the lack of care a child left alone to care for a pet may bring. Always assume you are the primary carer.
So with all of my animal experience, what did I learn? What could it teach you or a child?
Responsibility: Owning a pet requires responsibility. Pet owners need to feed, water, exercise, and care for their pets on a daily basis. We had dairy goats so that meant milking them by hand twice per day. Plus going out in all types of weather conditions to the barn to care for them. Lots to do! This responsibility can teach children and adults alike about the importance of being responsible and dependable. That animal counts on you each and everyday to fulfill their welfare needs.
Empathy: Caring for a pet can help people develop empathy. By understanding and meeting the needs of their pets, pet owners can learn to be more aware of the needs of others and develop greater compassion and empathy. When your animal is feeling unwell for example, you will want to make them feel better and comfortable.
Patience: Pets can be a great lesson in patience. Training a pet, especially a young one, takes time and consistency. Pet owners need to be patient and persistent in their efforts to teach their pets, which can help them develop greater patience in other areas of their lives as well. Children can help parents in training a new dog to help develop patience by showing them the process and how the reward will come with hard work and persistance.
Stress relief: Animals can be great stress relievers. Don't get me wrong, we all get tired and sometimes don't want to go on a long walk with the dog. But.... spending time with a pet, playing with them, and cuddling with them can help reduce stress and anxiety. Farm chores are hard, and not always nice, but I did find relaxation when preparing my livestock for a show. I loved the craft of getting an animal all cleaned and ready for the show ring. It really did do wonders! This can teach pet owners the importance of taking time for self-care and relaxation.
Unconditional love: Pets provide unconditional love and companionship. They don't judge, criticize, or hold grudges. This can teach pet owners about the importance of acceptance, forgiveness, and unconditional love in their relationships with others.
Overall, pets can be great teachers, and I know it sure was for me. It greatly helps people learn important life lessons. I think that the benefits of having a child help you in raising an animal is huge. For me, it prepared me for my degree in agriculture, various animal jobs, and then to where I am now...running my own animal sector business! You never know where it will take them!