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It is every child’s dream… to own a pet. Whether its the stray cat at your doorstep or the playful pup in the pet store window, animals find a way into our hearts. We naturally want to care for them, feed them, and hold and squeeze them! They do not come empty handed either as they provide companionship, comfort, and a chance to be a kid again yourself! You may want to say yes to your child’s next plea of, “Can we keep him?” since studies show that a child’s social, emotional, physicial, and cognitive development can all be encouraged by interaction with the family pet.


Pets can be wonderful social facilitators as they create an invitation for children to enter otherwise uncomfortable or uninteresting social scenarios. Making friends is less intimidating when their is a furry friend to be made as well.

A pet itself can be a social object for children because of the nature of their relationship. “Because animals accept us for who we are, pets give some practice in a social relationship,” says Dickstein, Ph.D., Director of Humane Education for the ASPCA. Carlie Van Willigen’s five-year-old son Murphy is developmentally disabled, his mother reports that he never really noticed his surroundings. That all changed when they got a dog two years ago.

“For a while, he didn’t seem to even notice the dog, until one day he was running through the kitchen and skidded to a stop in front of the dog and started petting her. Eventually, he began throwing his ball and the dog would fetch it and he thought that was the greatest thing.” says Van Willigen as she sees their dog as one of the catalysts that helped Murphy learn that there is a world outside of himself and his own needs.


Pets can be a safe place for children to express their emotions and give them the time to process how they feel and think about a situation. We all need a safe place to turn and a pet is a ready listener who won’t offer any negative feedback- just a furry back to rest your head upon.

This self-awareness can be a bridge to self-confidence as Dickstein points out, “As kids age and take on more of the care for the pet, it helps to build self-confidence.” She points out however, that it is not guaranteed that owning a pet will teach children responsibility. “Parents teach responsibility,” explains Dickstein, “Pets just make a good vehicle for learning.”

Keep in mind that the responsibility a child has for her pet needs to be age appropriate. Starting at around three years old, a child can help fill food and water bowls. By five, he can begin to groom as well as to help keep the pet’s living area clean. As children near the mid-elementary school aged years, they can begin walking a dog independently, and as the teen years approach, the child will most likely be able to take over the majority of responsibilities for a house pet.


“Pets provide an impetus for running and practicing motor skills,” says Sheryl Dickstein. It is the perfect excuse for taking a break form the TV watching and video games that kids are tempted to default to. Taking the dog for a daily walk, running in the back yard, and throwing a ball are great ways to exercise the dog as well get children moving around.  Small motor skills can be encouraged when children scoop food and pour water into dishes, and help to groom them. Depending on the child’s age, parental supervision is recommended for both the child’s and the pet’s safety.


Encouraging children to read about their pet as well as to take part in obedience classes can encourage a child’s cognitive development as it sparks the desire for learning. Bringing the child along to a veterinarian appointment will give him a chance to ask questions about proper care and his pet’s health.

Helping children to research information about their pet on the Internet is another way they can learn about the pet’s special needs and unique characteristics as well as to correspond with other owners of the same type of pet .As children grow, they may develop an interest in a specific type or breed of animal and you can encourage them to follow their interests even if they do not own that particular pet.

Brining a pet into the family is not a decision that should be made lightly. It first must be a commitment by the parents, not the child, as they will ultimately be responsible for the pet’s welfare. Once that commitment has been made, however, and an appropriate pet has been found for the family, the joys and benefits of the pet relationship will last for many years to come.


When a beloved pet leaves our lives, there is no easy way to deal with the void that is left in our hearts. The grieving process is necessary while painful. Each individual may express their grief in different ways. While some may prefer to move on as quickly as possible, others find closure by memorializing their pet. This may be done through a number of simple ways as well as holding a private or public memorial service. At Family’s Pet, we offer a wide variety of services from individual and private cremations to viewing and memorial/funeral services, so that our clients can choose how they want to say good bye while preserving their fondest memories in the midst of departing.

Our brand new modern facility in Arlington Heights, IL is beautifully constructed with a memorial/funeral room where you can hold a service for your pet or simply serve as a quiet setting where you can privately say your good byes. Whether you decide to preform the service on your own or with the help of a professional, we offer some suggestions of practices that may be appealing for you to include. An opening word is helpful in some cases giving reassurance to those who are attending. State the purpose of your coming together. While it may be a new experience for some, it is an opportunity for loved ones to comfort one another and give closure as they express their love for the departed.

Lighting a candle is one way to remember your pet. You may choose to say a heartfelt word or allow the beauty and warmth of the flame to speak for itself. The warm flame of the candle is a reminder of the way our pets have warmed our hearts with their presence and love. May they be guided to safety and rest by the light of its flame. It’s power compels us to move forward with courage as we face the future.

Sharing a Memory is a great way to celebrate the life of your pet. It may be a particular event or experinece you shared such as an outing or funny moment. It may be what you will remember most about your pet’s character such as the way he greeted you when you arrived home each day. Our lives are different because of their love and hearing how they have touched the lives of others compounds that love.

Offering a blessing is a way for you to express your faith at a time when you may need it most. Though death is a difficult reality, we find comfort in the promise of life after death. You may ask for God’s peace and strength to be with you and all who are grieving. Knowing that your pet has passed to a joyful place with no more pain is a great blessing and offers the hope of reuniting with him again one day.

Reading a poem or singing a song can be a beautiful and constructive outlet to outwardly express what many are already feeling inside. You may choose to prepare your own words or select the author that you feel best communicates how you feel. One such poem that has provided comfort to grieving pet owners for many years has been The Rainbow Bridge in it’s many variations.In closing, you may decide to pray as well as read an excerpt from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, as is customary at many funeral and memorial services:

3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

A Memorial Service is a tangible way to demonstrate the significance your pet held in your life. When a great companion is laid to rest it is appropriate for those that held him dear to stop and recognize his absence. It is by far the greatest honor that can be given.


Yesterday we looked at many different reasons why a house-trained adult dog would suddenly begin urinating in the house. If you have ruled out any medical conditions then consider that your dog may be “marking his territory.” It is well known that dogs are territorial animals. They let other animals know what areas belong to them by urinating in a certain spot.

Your dog may be urine-marking if the issue is mostly urination. Dogs rarely mark with feces. Markings are a small amount of urine found principally on walls, cabinets and other vertical surfaces for male leg lifters. Even if your dog is a squatter not a lifter, she may still be marking with urine. Non-spayed or non-neutered intact dogs are more likely to mark their territory, however, even spayed or neutered dogs will mark if there are other intact pets in the house. One clear sign is when your dog urinates on things that are newly introduced to the house (a new piece of furniture, your friend’s purse, or new baby’s belongings); on things that have unusual odors, or on things that smell of another dog or cat. Another common scenario is when your dog is clashing with another dog or cat in the house. When a “pack” is not getting along, your dog may urinate in an attempt to establish dominance over the others

In order to reduce the odds of your dog urine marking in the home, spay or neuter him as soon as your vet recommends. Spaying or neutering could stop marking completely, but, if your dog has urine-marked for quite awhile prior to spaying or neutering, the behavior may continue. Also, take care of fights or dominance issues between your dogs. Having a healthy pack structure in your home where you are the pack leader is essential to eliminate dog behavior issues including. If your dogs marking is triggered by dogs being walked by your house or other animals, try to limit your dog’s ability to see these outside animals from inside your house. If you can’t keep your dog from the windows or doors, try to control the presence of other animals outside the house. There are sprays and plants that can help.

When urine-marking occurs, clean the area immediately. Clean with a stain and odor remover made for especially for pet stains to discourage the dog from returning to this spot. In areas where your dog has urinated try to keep him from it or take away the attraction. For example, if he has urine-marked a house plant, move the plant to another spot he can’t get to. If you can’t do this, try to change the meaning of those spots to your pet. If you feed or play with your dog in those spots, he will be less likely to remark there. Try to keep things that could encourage your dog to mark out of reach. Items such as visitors’ possessions and new things should be placed in a closet or cabinet for a while.

If your pet is urine-marking in reaction to an addition to your household (i.e., a new roommate, spouse, new baby, etc.), have that person and your dog get to know each other. Have them feed and play with your dog. With a new baby, give him lots of positive reinforcement, treats, and toys when the baby is around. If your dog urinates on your new baby’s stuffed toy, it isn’t from spite or jealousy. The unusual odors and noises of a new baby in the house are driving him to remark his territory and the new things in it. Be patient and help your dog to learn that the new arrival can be a bundle of joy for him as well.

Learn the signs that indicate your dog is about to urinate and watch for them when he is inside. If he starts, stop him by clapping or making other loud noises and bring him out to the yard. If he goes, praise him and give him a treat. If you find yourself in situations where you can’t keep an eye on him, put him in the crate, or place him in a small room where he hasn’t urine-marked. Another option is to put him on his leash and hook the leash to you to provide consistent accountability.

Make your dog work for his treats and rewards. This is a safe, non-challenging way to show you are the leader. It works on the premise that your dog must work for what he wants. Teach him basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, or down. Have him perform one of these commands before routine things like feeding or walks. Making it known to your dog that you are the leader will help to establish the hierarchy and reduce his need to urine-mark.

As tempting as it is, do not seek to punish your pooch for urine marking. After he has done his deed, he will not be able to make the connection that the behavior was what warranted it and you will create a dog who is fearful of his handler. While urine marking is often associated with dominance issues, anxiety can also be an option. An anxious dog may be stressed further by the sight and smells of other animals. If your dog is feeling overly stressed, think about talking to your vet about medications that may help while you work on his behavior through training.