Adorable illustration by Joyce Hesselberth, courtesy of The New York Times
By small humans, we of course, mean children, and we can't believe that doctors are still debating the merits of pets as part of a household, and whether they "enrich" a child's formative years. Doesn't anyone remember how many times Lassie saved Timmy's life? Hello!
But in today's Science section of The Times, there's an article written by a frequent contributor Perri Klass, MD, titled, Can Fido and Whiskers Enrich Children's Lives? Dr. Klass admits right away that she's not a "pet person" and has raised three children "without benefit of in-house canines, felines or invited rodents," and doesn't seem to feel a bit guilty about it. The latest research is showing, however, that some children do benefit from relationships with animals: "The hope that children may learn empathy and communication skills from animals has led to speculation about pets in the lives of people with autism. And even recent allergy research suggests that "early exposure to animals may have a protective effect." And...?
Well, we say, the "scientific evidence" is as plain as the nose on our face-helping to raise a pet will most likely teach a child at least a modicum of empathy, how to take responsibility for another living creature, discipline, boundaries, unconditional love...and so much more. And let's not forget getting those youngins' up and out of the house for some exercise.
But these are just a few of what we think are a myriad of life lessons that living with a pet teaches us, young or old. What can you add to this list? Let us know!