One of the happiest days of my life was the day my family brought home a two-year-old mutt from the animal shelter. I was five years old and had minimal experience with animals so I was cautiously excited when my parents let me hold the leash and lead her inside. She was a full-grown mix of a Jack Russell Terrier and a Pitbull. When she stood on her hind legs she was my height and her strength at the time was easily triple mine, but when I held the leash in my hand she was gentle and allowed me to lead her where I wanted to go. I named her Lucy after my favorite Charlie Brown character, and she was instantaneously my best friend.
Lucy has been with me for 13 years now and has helped me through every single problem that I’ve faced. She may have learned the rules of the house from me, but I’ve learned much more from her. I would have thought that I am the only one who had this kind of experience with a dog, but I have witnessed it in other children and heard stories like mine being told at the Humane Society where I volunteered. Looking back I realize that adults really are right when they say that children are impressionable. I also know that a child who’s anything like I was is probably stubborn at times, and can be reluctant to learn new things. When a child owns a dog, they have a new role model who can teach important life lessons.
While all dogs are different, there are three important life lessons that can be learned from almost any domestic dog.
Dogs teach children to be responsible by depending on them. When a child forgets to feed their dog for a day they generally feel guilty and notice that the dog has not eaten because of them.
There are Consequences for your Actions.
Dogs lead by example when it comes to accepting consequences for your actions. Almost every dog gets sprayed by a skunk after getting too close, chasing it or even killing it. The consequence for a domestic dog is being bathed in tomato juice until the smell goes away. Another example of this lesson is when a dog bites a child as a consequence for putting their hands in its mouth.
If you want something you NEED to Earn It.
When dogs are first adopted, they generally pick up on how they will be rewarded for different actions. For the most part, begging will not get a dog the treat that they want. But if they sit, stay or do some trick to earn the treat they will get what they want.
Obviously I learned these lessons and many more from my own dog, Lucy. Each dog is different and will have a different set of lessons that they teach with the universal ones listed above. But the three lessons that I listed in this article should be enough to argue that every child who is not allergic to dogs should own one. Dogs will teach these lessons, be their best friend and always be loyal.