What if your child doesn’t want to be responsible for the pet?

Our pets rely on us for their wellbeing

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 cephalexinThis 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.

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2 Comments

  1. Spot on issue you have raised here – no wonder its so common issue – I am also a dad of 10 year old. I didn’t get her any pet until she was 9 as my promise to her was that she will get a puppy on her 9th birthday and so that she should be able to care for it. Offcourse i knew that it will be lot of my responsibility but i thought she will learn responsibility this way and will take of her puppy as she will grow up. I did all major training of the puppy and everything from his food to cleaning was taken care by me . But now 1.5 years into this i still have to look after majority of things related to dog every day including giving him water and cleaning and putting away his shit from backyard and even daily brushing – Though my daughter loves the dog but regardless of my insist that she shall take a few responsibilities at least so the dog do not suffer and its not extra work on me its very hard to get the things done from her. Yes she will play with him and don’t want him go anywhere but doing his regular chores is difficult. On top under her love pressure I also got her ha kitten and 2 budgies during this time and as opposed to what was promised most of it i see as increase in my responsiblities. I don’t know its hard to draw a line at this stage as she is still young and to some extend i feel i have to help her and because she does sometimes some chores and she is very much attached and love the pets i feel its okay and she will get better but many days are like where i end up working many extra hours and also some days i find basic things for pets not done i get upset i shout and it ends up as a bad day or weekend. I don’t know how to handle this situation and improve it so that we get quality time not frustration time due to pets.

  2. Here’s a doozy. My wife and I both wanted dogs. We now have a 13yr old maltese and 10yr old shitzu. For the last 7-8 years, the responsibility has fallen on me for taking care of them. My wife barely pitches in on daily chores like feeding, walking, and cleaning up messes nor on vet/med duties for the older one. She has a much higher tolerance for dog accidents than I do. She’d rather let the dogs piss and poop in the house than consistently take them on walks. I am now emotionally unattached to the dogs because of the toll the chores have taken on me but yet my wife makes me out to be the bad guy for saying I no longer want them. It’s quite the unhealthy predicament. Not sure what to do.

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