We have a whole slew of adopted animals on our little farm, from dogs and cats to chickens, goats and sheep. A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that we've gotten livestock and birds from adoption centers, but the fact is that any sort of animal can experience abuse and abandonment, and they all need love!
In the end, though, I don't feel like we're providing for them as much as they're teaching our kids about compassion and the basic building blocks of life.
Our sponsor PetFinder is currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, and we're excited to be working with them to spread the word about pet adoption! We've actually found a couple of our animals through this online adoption resource, which helps aggregate information about animals available from a ton of local shelters and rescues.
Here are just a few of the many lessons that pet adoption can help teach any family.
Acceptance of differences. Animals are innately different in temperament and personality, just like people. We have some who love to be snuggled, some who prefer to keep their distance, some who are energetic and some supremely lazy animals. The boys have observed and asked a number of questions like, “Why does Kraken like to play but Bjorne just wants to sleep?” Their questions have led to some interesting conversations and a deeper understanding of nature and nurture's impact on character.
Responsibility. The boys are an active part of our regular routine of washing, watering and feeding the animals and we've explained to them that the repercussions of not doing that can be very harmful. Same thing goes for ourselves: we need to care for our home and each other and clean up our messes, or life just won't go smoothly.
Respect. Our youngest son is particularly active and has a tendency to barrel everyone and everything over with unbridled affection during playtime. Some of our gentler chickens and dogs serve as patient guides for him to learn boundaries as we explain the need to respect space and be soft and kind with animals (as well as humans!).
We all give and take. As much effort as we put into caring for our animals, they also give back in different ways. The goats “mow” our grass for us, the sheep provide wool, the chickens give eggs and the dogs offer companionship and protection. No relationship is just one-sided!
Big picture lessons. I know a few pet parents who have been concerned about life span or potential health issues when adopting animals. While it's difficult to see any loved one go through pain, it's not necessarily a bad thing for kids to learn that life is an ebbing-and-flowing cycle and that this too shall pass. Helping pets through difficult times can teach kids to appreciate what they have while they have it.
Petfinder recently launched its #MetOnPetfinder 20th anniversary celebration with a video showing how adoptable pets have transformed the lives of their adopters. Since 1996, Petfinder has helped facilitate more than 25 million pet adoptions. To raise awareness and encourage pet adoption, watch and share the #MetOnPetfinder video. Petfinder set and reached a goal of 1.25 million video views. Now, they are donating $200,000 to benefit 25 shelter and rescue members and cultivate even more lifelong relationships. Click to watch and share the video!
What has pet adoption taught your family?