This post is sponsored by Bravecto®
Having a fear of dogs is quite a difficult thing to live with. I remember the feelings of anxiety I would have at visiting certain dog-owner friends’ houses or even walking down the street seeing a large dog walking towards me. I was determined that when I had children, they would not experience the same feelings I did whilst growing up.
When I was a kid I had a cat and he was my best friend. My parents toyed with the idea of getting a dog at one point (partly to help quell my anxiety about dogs) but the cat was too entrenched in the family and was not the type to accept a canine brother or sister.
Over the years I gradually learnt to be comfortable around dogs. So, in the midst of our excitement at being newly married and moving into our house we had purchased together a few years earlier, hubby and I decided to throw some animals into the mix. We settled on one dog and one cat. Very sensible.
Nigella Pawson, the Blue Russian X was the first to arrive followed a couple of months later by Bone Jovi (Bo), the Pomerian X Shetland Sheepdog (Poshie). The dog would repeatedly try to play with the cat despite her absolute disdain for her new furball brother. Six months later and Bella, my brother-in-law’s Terrier, also joined the fold when he moved and she couldn’t go with him.
Now, with two kids thrown into the mix, it can certainly feel like our house is a zoo. There is always someone wanting to be fed/cuddled/played with, but the benefit of pets to our family has been immense. Our experience mirrors the findings of the recent study commissioned by long-lasting paralysis tick and flea treatment Bravecto, which shows dogs have a hugely positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of children.
On one hand, I have achieved my goal of having a child who is confident around dogs. My daughter directs our dogs in her imaginary play in the backyard and they follow her wherever she goes, similar to the 66 per cent of parents in the Bravecto survey that ranked ‘having fun’ as one of the best benefits a family dog can give children. I am sure helped by the fact that she has been known to share her snacks with them when no one is watching. And she loves making new doggy friends while we are out and about, often the first to ask if she can have a pat.
But there have been so many other benefits. Like the 71 per cent of the Aussie children in the Bravecto survey results, she has learnt about responsibility, often helping with poo collection duties on the weekend and taking an increasing role in feeding the pets as she gets older.
And most of all, she has learnt compassion and love. When my cat passed away at the ripe old age of 18, I was devastated. He had been a playmate in my younger years and a confidante as I navigated my teen years. I remember him sleeping quietly next to me all night when I had broken up with my first boyfriend and slinking his way upstairs with me when I would be sent to my room for whatever reason.
I love watching that same relationship develop between my kids and our pets. In the morning, the dogs greet my daughter at the back door and she can’t wait to go out and play with them. It makes me so happy to know that a majority of the kids surveyed in the Bravecto research felt happy (85%), loved (67%) and safe (64%) when their four-legged friends were nearby. I can see those feelings developing in our daughter and know that we have made the right decision to fill our house with babies, of both the human and fur variety.
As for me and my fear of dogs, having my own dogs as an adult has certainly helped me to overcome those feelings of anxiety. I love enjoying my Sunday coffee on the back deck with the dogs at my feet, soaking up the sunshine. Our Saturday night movie wouldn’t be complete without them by my side too.
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