We’ve all been told that they’d harm our children, transfer diseases and pose all sorts of threats which is only normal since pets have long been labeled as dangerous when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. We were raised to shoo street cats and dogs away, but this tradition has been lately broken by a number of parents who have realized that those whom we teach our children to fear can in fact be their ultimate source of happiness. We talked to mothers who have diverted from the commonly taken route and decided to raise their kids with pets…
Nancy Hassan agreed to adopt a dog for her six-year-old daughter on one condition. “We agreed that she’d have to win 1000 points first. She was motivated by the idea, so I granted her points whenever she did something right; went to bed on her own; finished her homework; thought of a creative idea. Eventually I got her a Yorkie dog.”
And on its impact on her daughter’s personality, “I see how merciful she is towards others, something that many other kids who were raised to fear and hit animals lack. She is also an only child so having someone to play with is a delight for her. She is even braver now. She plays and hugs dogs that I myself would pause in front of,” she adds.
“My Pitbull is literally my daughter’s nanny.”
Aya Abdelsalam’s family is composed of a boy, a girl, a Pitbull and a French bulldog. “Everyone warned me, including my parents. There is this myth about Pitbulls that they are aggressive but actually my Pitbull, Stud, is literally my daughter’s nanny.” Aya says. “When we first got Djanah home from the hospital, he wanted to lick her. I was worried but the doctor assured me that his saliva was good for her immunity,”
“We used to fear his spontaneous fast moves but slowly he comprehended the idea that there is a tiny person in the house and so he has to be careful. He’d tip toe so gently around her rocking chair,” Aya tells.
Aya involves her daughter Djanah in animal rescue. “She is merciful towards other creatures, whenever she sees kids hurting animals, she stops them,” she tells. She learned how to take responsibility of our dogs, shower and feed them.”
This sweet and loving daughter of hers mentions her dogs whenever her teacher assigns her to write a piece about her family. “The second word she uttered when she started talking was Stud’s name and when we go to any of our friends’ houses that don’t have pets, it is a big question mark for her,” Aya tells.
“Taha, my other baby is very young and you know how babies are; he is very likely to pull Stud from his ears, tale or mouth but Stud tolerates him,” she adds.
“When my daughter was only 2 months old, my labradors were absolutely protective of her.”
Randa Habib’s 1 year and 3 month-old daughter Jamila is more compassionate and responsible as a result of growing up with three Labradors around. “When she was only 2 months old, they were absolutely protective of her. They’d come and go around her and refuse to leave her side. They did the same with me when I was pregnant because dogs usually sense when their caregiver is pregnant,” Randa tells.
“They are my daughter’s main source of entertainment, they run with her and hand her her toys. People think dogs are just a nice trend, but in fact my dogs are my family and my daughter’s support system.” She adds.
Walaa El Menyawi has a different story; not only did she have dogs, but so far, she has rescued 11 cats as well. “My father used to take me with him and go feed street Baladi animals and so I do the same with my 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter,” she says.
“People warned me that cats would transfer diseases to my daughters. They said that they’d grow to be infertile but I asked my doctor about it and I took all safety precautions. There isn’t any risk as long as my cats are vaccinated,” she adds.
And of course, Walaa’s 11 cats keep her daughters occupied and content. “Talia always carries our smallest cat and pretends to be breastfeeding her, then she puts her to sleep in her box.”
All the success stories don’t cancel the possibility of accidents happening, that is why supervision is always required. And while it is great to ingrain mercy in your kids’ hearts, animals aren’t always passive and can sometimes pose a threat.
On our end however, we must always consider that in many cases animals’ hostile behavior is an act of defense in response to our children’s aggressiveness with them. Raising our kids to know that it is not funny to throw things at animals and scare them away, that they are creatures of equal significance, and that they aren’t toys will very likely convert their source of fear into their zone of comfort and win them unconditionally loyal lifetime best friends. And whilst having a pet might not be right for every family, the option shouldn’t be written off on the basis of exaggerated fear.