What if your child doesn’t want to be responsible for the pet?
I currently live at home with two children and four pets. Although my kids, Danielle and Johnathan, are 20 and 17 they sometimes act a lot younger. This apparent regression occurs because they know that they can get away with it with me. As long as they’re going to school and working towards a degree, I don’t mind them living at home with me for as long as they need, and I certainly don’t mind taking care of their needs. About once a week we have an informal get-together to discuss various household matters. During one of those meetings last January we discussed the prospect of getting more pets. We all quickly came to a consensus vote to not get any more pets because we already have two dogs and two cats that required plenty of attention and care.
To my way of thinking, when people vote and agree on something, the decision must be adhered to, otherwise why make an agreement at all? Because of this belief, I was taken by surprise when Danielle came home with a pit bull puppy last April. When I objected I got the typical responses: “But dad why can’t I keep him? I thought you loved pets!” and “I will take care of him and take him for regular checkups, I promise you won’t have to do anything for him.” Reluctantly I agreed on the condition that this will be her dog, she will take care of him and when she eventually moves out into her own apartment she will take him with her. Since she is twenty years old, I felt I should be able to trust her assurances more than I would a five-year-old who asks for a dog for Christmas.
Leo was an adorable puppy and everything was going perfectly for the first two weeks. By the third week I noticed that we had run out of quality puppy food. I asked Danielle if she was planning to get some and her response was “I will get it in a few days, I promise, just give Leo adult dog food until I do Dad.” I wasn’t happy with her response, so I ended up going online and ordering the proper food myself.
The next thing I questioned her about was taking Leo to the veterinarian for his vaccinations and overall exam. Just like the food response, I got a similar “I will take him next week sometime, he’ll be okay until then Dad.” Again that wasn’t the response I needed to hear so I made an appointment for Leo and took him myself. It’s also a good thing that I did take him because Leo had a mild skin infection that required some antibiotics, he needed his rabies tag, and other puppy vaccines. I already had to give my older dog Duke his levothyroxine, my cat Midnight his methimazole, and now I had to start giving Leo his cephalexin. This added an additional responsibility to my already busy morning routine.
Before long I was the one walking Leo, training him, feeding him, grooming him, taking him to the veterinarian, putting various heartworm and flea preventatives on him, and giving him the love and attention he needed. Something seemed to have gone wrong with the original intended plan between my daughter and me. It was past time to have a serious talk with Danielle about her new pet and how she has completely neglected her responsibilities towards Leo.
I sat her down and gave her my lecture but the response I got was totally unexpected and was something like “Dad I’m in school, I’m working, I have to spend time with my friends, and I have other responsibilities. Sorry, but I feel that we should try to find Leo another home.” Listening to her 180 degree turnabout made it clear that she knew very well that I was now attached to Leo and would not be able to give him away no matter how much extra work was added on me.
Time and again I am reminded how much I “spoil” both my children and my four-legged family members, and how all of them can easily get their way with me. I sat down later that evening and wondered if given the choice I would change anything and was not able to come up with an answer. The only realization I came to was that parenting decisions are not always clear-cut; sometimes the best I can do is minimize the potential damage and go with the least harmful choice.
Regardless of which family member is in charge of your pet’s health, it is always important to remember to take your pet for regular veterinary checkups. If you have any medication-related questions you can always contact your 1800Petmeds Pharmacist who will help you find the answers. The bottom line is that every pet is entitled to love, attention and proper care. Just like the situation I’m facing myself at home, if someone else is neglecting their “pet duties” the responsible and most loving thing to do is to pick up the slack with the pet’s healthcare needs ourselves.