My Two Brothers
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT –
Miss Summerville was my 1st grade teacher at Otis Brown Elementary School in Irving, Texas. She was a great teacher. I remember one day during a “get to know you” discussion she asked the class if we had brothers and sisters. I responded that I had two and their names were Pudgie and Pepper (see our photo off to the side). When she looked puzzled, I explained that Pudgie was my cocker spaniel and Pepper was my parakeet! Me… an only child??? Nope, I had two brothers.
I don’t mind being an “only.” In fact, I liked it then and now. However, my relationship with my companion animals was so strong that I felt they really were my siblings. Pudgie came to our family when I was five years old. He was the sweetest dog ever. If I was upset, he would wash my tears and look sad with me. He even let me dress him when we played “dress-up” together. When I was a teenager and stayed up to watch a late monster movie on TV, he sat with me so I could hide behind him when something scary was about to happen. And I remember how smart he was—I could line up his ten or so toys (rat, ball, bone, etc.) and he would pick up the toy that I named.
And Pepper talked up a storm: “Pepper’s a pretty bird!” “Give me a kiss” followed by a kissy noise. He loved to climb into my gown at the neckline and come out the bottom. Pudgie and Pepper even played together… what sweet memories of these dear animals who loved me with all they had. I don’t know what my life (which was wonderful) would have been like without their companionship.
Which brings up the point that I think it’s good for a child to have an animal buddy assuming the family is ready for a lifetime commitment AND that the parents will take full responsibility for feeding, watering, bathing, exercising etc. the animal. An animal is not to be used to “teach” responsibility to children, who can’t even be responsible for themselves. The animal needs a mature adult to provide its care in a timely manner… not when the child is reminded many times and the poor animal is so hungry. The adults needs to realize that they are the ones to provide the training needed for a polite great dog, friendly cat or fun, interactive bird.
The animal serves the very needed friendship and unconditional love that children need. When the child is in trouble or having peer issues, the animal is ALWAYS there to console. If you do get a dog for your child, please consider the right size/temperament etc. for your family. Consider adopting a rescue from your shelter or humane society. And, lastly, enroll in a positive obedience class (no yelling, leash tugging, hitting or choke collars). If your child is old enough, he or she might just be the one to complete it with you supporting at ring side.
Copyright © 2013, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column “The Counselor’s Corner.”
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.