Pet Therapy

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I have complained before about our canine charges, Vida and “Cyclops” Chloe (formerly known as Pirate) who, with their penchant for digging in our rubbish bin and redistributing a week’s worth of dirty nappies, give us more grey hairs than our baby does. They have now taken to chewing blankets and duvets – in fact, the destructive duo have just demolished a complete set, including cylindrical pillows and a woollen throw, in the spare room. Given their rambunctious natures, we were concerned about how they would handle a curious baby. We were particularly worried that Vida, a gangly Ridgeback with no spatial perception, would be a danger to Erin, especially as she starts to crawl. But we have been amazed at how gentle Vida is with her. She gives Erin tender licks on her head or arm as she walks past, much to Erin’s delight (while I run for the wet wipes). And when Erin grabs Vida’s rump in her pincer grip, she doesn’t flinch. Chloe is just as patient, although we have noticed that this patience actually stems from the dog’s realization that Erin is invariably clutching a biscuit or something edible, and that she is always willing to split it with them.
Despite having to deal with the odd buried nappy and the disappearance of Erin’s socks, found a few days later semi-digested in the garden, we think Erin can only benefit from growing up with animals. She is already learning about sharing, and how to treat another creature with compassion. The experts agree, saying that having a pet from a young age may also improve a child’s cognitive and emotional development. Now if only the same could be said for pets who grow up with children?

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