Did you have a pet growing up? My family had Doodles, a spirited Kerry Blue Terrier who we all adored. Doodles was very gentle, loyal and affectionate. He would even allow little children to ride him like a horse. I remember my special bond with him and that he was an excellent secret keeper. Each of us had Doodle responsibilities, whether it be taking him out for a walk, feeding him or picking up after him.
There are many benefits to having a pet if you have a child with special needs. A pet can provide comfort to a child who is anxious by generating a calming effect that reduces stress. Your child can acquire a sense of self satisfaction by learning how to care for his pet and having his pet depend on him/her. There are numerous social advantages as well. Taking your dog for a walk in your neighborhood or on the beach is the perfect way to practice greeting skills. Everyone loves a beautiful dog.
Certainly there are considerations. A pet requires work, many responsibilities and expenses. You need to consider your lifestyle as well as the demands of your child. Ryan has not had a pet because I recognized my limitations due to my work schedule, his schedule and other challenges.
If your family is ready for a pet there are many resources that can guide you in the right direction.
- A Rinty For Kids Foundation (AFRKids) helps children with special needs nationally by selecting a puppy for the family to be trained as a pet-assisted therapy dog.
- Autism Service Dogs of America provides trained dogs to children with autism.
- Take this quiz to see if you’re ready for a pet and what is the best pet for your family.
“Animals offer all children the chance to connect to another living being,” says Adrian Sandler, M.D., head of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Children with Disabilities.
Please share some of your favorite stories of you and your pet and celebrate Love Your Pet day with us.