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Tips to Easing Into Ownership If you've thought through these five factors but still need more reassurances to be confident in choosing a pet, consider trying one or more of the following:

Research Galligan's son developed an interest in freshwater fish before having his own aquarium. He read books from the library. He visited the pet store to investigate varieties. He learned all he could before convincing his parents to buy a freshwater aquarium. Besides books and store staff, it can help to also speak to someone who owns a pet like the one you are considering. Cahill talked with a friend who owns a turtle before letting her daughters buy the tortoise.

Pet sitting The Cahills also had extensive experience caring for a variety of animals before they brought home their own pet. They watched friends' fish, hamsters, several cats, hermit crabs and a number of dogs. And they used each of those experiences as an opportunity to talk about pet ownership. "It's totally different to have the animal every day," Cahill notes. "It makes them see that it's constant. There are certain things you have to do everyday." She recommends having a child take on a pet sitting responsibility, even if it means simply going to a house to feed a pet or let a dog out for one day.


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Start simple Not all pets are created equal. Which means you can choose to start with a low-maintenance pet to allow your children to learn responsibility before moving up to a bigger commitment. Cahill agrees. "I thought the tortoise would be great to ease in. The girls still clean and feed her and walk her in the summer." Collins also recommends guinea pigs for families new to pet ownership. "They're easy to hold and not as hard to take care of."

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Calling all creative and pet-loving kids! Pets Add Life (PAL) is accepting poems for the 5th Annual Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest beginning Sept. 1, 2013 through Jan. 31, 2014. Students in grades 3rd-8th are invited to write a unique poem about their pets, what they love about them and the joys they bring to their lives, and submit online at, via Facebook at or mail their final poem and submission form to: Pets Add Life, 661 Sierra Rose Dr., Reno, NV 89511. Deadline for submissions is January 31, 2014 at 5pm EST. One student from each grade level (6 total) nationwide will win a $250 gift certificate for pet products, and a “by-line” in a nationally circulated publication or online outlet. In addition, the six winning students’ classrooms will each win a $1,000 scholarship to spend on petrelated education. To learn more about the Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest, read previous winning poems, upload submissions beginning Sept. 1, or download a printed submission form, please visit

Child Guide

September/October 2013

Page 19

Sept/Oct 2013 Child Guide  

Back to School and More! From choosing after-school activities to the pet that fits your family, this issue covers it, plus Special Needs se...

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