Puppies, kittens, goldfish, hamsters, parakeets, guinea pigs, and lizards are all common pets. Some people even have things like pythons, pot-bellied pigs, tortoises, or spiders. There are even those who have wild animals for pets. Things like lions, tigers, poisonous snakes, monkeys, or even skunks. The list goes on and on. There are too many different types of pets for us to learn about every one of them. We will start by learning some basic things in this lesson, and then, in the rest of our Pet Care Lessons we will deal with the 3 most common pets, cats, dogs, and fish.
You may have already noticed that almost all of our Lutheran Pioneer lessons talk about the bible. The bible talks about animals a lot, but it usually talks about them as livestock, food, or property. The bible talks many times of animals as a sign of money and the Israelites were commanded to sacrifice animals. God’s word doesn’t really talk much about pets.
In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan uses a story about a small lamb to show King David that he had sinned against God. The story is about a rich man who selfishly takes that small lamb from a poor man, even though the rich man had plenty of his own. The bible describes that small lamb in these verses. “The poor man did not own anything except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He raised it so that it grew up together with him and his children. It ate from his food and drank from his cup. It slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.”
That certainly sounds like the little ewe lamb in the story was not for food or for sacrificing, and was perhaps a pet.
Jesus said that not one sparrow is forgotten by God. So if God takes care of the animals in His creation, we should too.
Choosing a Pet: Choosing the right pet is an important decision, but it’s not the first decision that you must make. The first decision is whether or not to have a pet at all.
There are a lot of reasons to have a pet:
- Pets are a lot of fun.
- Pets provide companionship
- Pets are a great way to learn about responsibility
But there are reasons to not have a pet too:
- Pets might not be allowed in your apartment or house.
- Pets can affect people who have allergies
- Sometimes pets are too much responsibility.
Since most pets live in your home with you, it is important that everyone, especially your parents, agree that having a pet is a good idea. Your parents will know whether it is ok to have a pet where you live. They will also know if YOU are ready to have a pet or not, and what kind of pet would work out and what kind of pet would not work out.
Maybe your family already has a pet. Who makes sure that the pet has food and water? If the pet makes a mess who cleans it up? The answer to those two questions kind of tells you whose pet that is, or at least it should. That is the responsibility part of having pet.
All pets need food and water and all pets make some sort of mess that must be cleaned up, but after that, different kinds of pets come with different kinds of responsibilities. Dogs need exercise and to go for walks. Cats can get into things they aren’t supposed to, and have litter boxes. Fish tanks need equipment to operate properly.
Different kinds of pets require different kinds of attention and living situations, having more than one kind of pet creates another list of things that you have to think about in advance. Many cats are content to be left alone, but some will crawl up and lay on anyone in the house. Some dogs are quiet, other dogs bark a lot and that might bother your neighbors. Although many dogs and cats do live in the same house, some dogs don’t like cats at all, and some dogs don’t really like other dogs. More unusual pets have their own concerns and requirements. You probably wouldn’t want a pet snake, or spider that was free to roam all over your house like a cat. Just think what would happen if you had a pet mouse that was loose and a pet cat. There is definitely a lot to think about when choosing a pet. It’s not just about how cute and cuddly they are, and it always comes down to the fact that your parents know more about the situation than you do. The fourth commandment teaches us to respect our parents’ authority.
We talked a little bit about responsibility already, but when it comes to pets, it is very important. In the garden of Eden, God gave man “dominion” over the animals. Genesis 1:26 says “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that crawls on the earth.”. “Dominion” means control or authority over something, and with authority comes a strong responsibility, and with pets that responsibility doesn’t go away simple because you don’t want to do something or aren’t that interested anymore.
Getting a new pet is a very exciting thing. But many times, children will want a pet and be told no by their parents, only to beg and beg until their parents give in and get the pet. The parents probably thought that the child was not ready, and they were probably right. The sad thing that happens too often, is then that the parents have to take on the responsibility of the pet, when the child isn’t excited about it anymore, and ignores the pet. Many of the animals in these situations end up neglected, and some are sent to animal shelters, where they might even be destroyed.
It is very important for you to understand the right way to ask your parents permission to have a pet. It’s almost never a good idea to just find a pet roaming around, or a sign that says free kittens and simply show up at home with it saying “Can we keep him?” There is a very specific order to doing this right, and following the order doesn’t mean you get to have a pet. It only means that you might be ready to have a pet. Remember again, your parents know more about the whole situation.
The steps are:
- Prove that you have the necessary responsibility. You do this by showing how responsible you are with all of the other things before you think about getting a pet. Clean your room, without having to be told to do it; and do it regularly not just for a week. Always have your homework done on-time. Offer to help you mom or dad with things, don’t wait for them to ask. Be honest and admit when you have done something that you might get in trouble for. Don’t blame you brother or sister for starting the argument, simply apologize for your part in it. Thee are all things that follow the 4th commandment and others, and serve to show your parents that you might be responsible enough to take care of a living thing.
- Ask you parents what kind of pet might work out well. Don’t just tell them what kind of pet you want. Have a conversation about it with them and learn why this kind of pet is a good idea or a bad idea. Just because you think a dog, or even a certain breed of dog, is best, doesn’t mean it will work out well. Your parents can help with this kind of thing.
- Know what you are getting into. The Lutheran Pioneer lessons about pets are great, but they do not have all of the information about every kind of pet in every situation. Again, ask your parents for help with this. For instance, it takes a lot more work, and money, to keep some animals clean and healthy. Some people think that fish juts live in the tank and you sprinkle a little food in once a day. But that tank has to be emptied out, and cleaned regularly too. That is a time-consuming task, but so is taking a dog out several times per day. Cats can be left at home without a person for much longer periods of time than dogs. Make sure that your individual situation makes sense.
- Ask your parents.
- Accept your parents answer. Even if it’s not the answer you wanted.
The last thing we will talk about in this lesson is how long a pet might be with you. All pets require a commitment from you to take care of them every day, and for a long time. At your age, being in school for whole day seems like a long time, and that’s ok. But do you realize that many pets will live for more years than you are old right now. Cats routinely live more than 12 years, and some even longer. Some dogs do too. !@ years or more is a long time. Make sure you are ready for that responsibility. Fish don’t usually live anywhere near that long, and sometimes any kind of pet can get sick or be hurt and die. The truth is that all pets have much shorter natural lives than people. This means that you will most likely live longer than your pet.
We know, that when we die, God has promised that we will go to heaven to be with Him because of what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross and rising again. But what about our pets? Our pets do not have souls. They are not people. The bible doesn’t really get into much detail about that. It does tell us that we cannot comprehend how wonderful heaven will be, and we know that God has the power to do anything He wants. Losing a pet is a very sad thing. We love them and we miss them when they are gone. But even this, in God’s plan, serves to remind us of just how special we are to God and to keep our focus on Him.
If you think you might want a pet, or are blessed with the ability to have a pet, keep learning about them, and have fun.