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Posted on Sat, Apr 24, 2010 : 5:30 a.m.

Getting the message: Teaching kids about animals

By Lorrie Shaw


A muted tortie, enjoying a sunpuddle.

Lorrie Shaw / Contributor

On any given day, I'll be driving back and forth between appointments around lunchtime and invariably find myself behind a school bus. There is always one stop where there is a Mom, maybe a too-young-for-school sibling - and a dog, waiting for their kindergardner to step off the bus. One thing that always makes me smile is that the dog is always the one who seems the most excited about the reunion! The connection that a dog has with its family as a whole is evident, but seeing a child with his pet... it's amazing.

Having a pet in the family, I think, helps to clearly illustrate a larger view of what the world at large really requires: care, attention, empathy, to name a few points. Pets have so much to offer us, too. One of the best things that they do is to remind us to be spontaneous, fun-loving and inquisitive. When families have pets for the right reasons, kids really absorb all those great lessons and experiences and get to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

The ASPCA is a great resource for all sorts of information about pets - but one thing that I particularly like is a free online resource, (powered by the ASPCA) - it's geared toward kids and includes articles, cartoons, activities and my favorite: "Ask Azula," a section filled with species-specific questions (like "Why do some frogs have teeth?") and answers. Kids can even submit queries! All of this in an environment that kids will enjoy, and best of all - in language that they can understand.

During my time with local vet Dr. Amanda Critchfield the other day, she gave me the heads up on, so many thanks to her for that! It's so important to dialogue with kids about pets, and this resource I think really gives children an idea of where they fit in a pets' life and perhaps an opportunity for folks to further pursue an open discussion with kids about the topic.

After all, helping the next generation foster a healthy relationship with animals is an important aspect of ensuring their welfare, well into the future.

Following her bliss, Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting and lives in Dexter Township with her family that includes a small brood of pets including two large breed dogs. As a contributor in the pets section for, she's always striving to provide interesting, fresh information on pet related topics. A lifelong cooking enthusiast, she can be found huddled in her kitchen standing over a hot stove and listening to any good music in her free time. Contact her by e-mail.