Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Year of the Pets

Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.

We have had some odd pet luck. Years ago, I'd had ferrets, fancy cat breeds and even a hedgehog. My sister once had a chinchilla! My brother bred hamsters (for money) when we were kids. More recently, my husband and I had 20 tarantulas in our collection and even a scorpion for a while! On moving day, we arrived with some of our pets in-hand and told we couldn't take them into our new home. The management had known for nine months that we had spiders, but never mentioned their policy. We had no choice. We sold all but 2 of our specimens to a breeder friend who, thankfully, came over on short notice to purchase them. The 2 specimens we kept went to stay with a friend for about a year until we moved again. We were so pleased when King and Tiny returned to us! We have since lost King in a moult, which is common with his species.

Theraphosa blondi (Goliath Birdeater / King)

We swore we did not want a dog and weren't really interested in a cat, either, but the kids kept asking. Once we were in a house, I felt like it wouldn't be so bad. We could get and love a cat that was indoor / outdoor and it wouldn't be too much work. And so we found Juliet, a 7 month old kitten. She was already used to indoor / outdoor living arrangements and kids! We re-named her Cathulhu and it took a month to get her in to be spayed. Shortly after that, we found out that Daddy's other daughter is allergic to cats. While filing for visitation rights, there was nothing we could do. We had to re-home the cat. It took another month to find a program with room for her. It was 2 hours away.

Let me tell you, it was awkward to have a cat around that you didn't want to love because you knew it was leaving. As we tried to prepare the kids for losing the cat, we promised we'd get hamsters. I think the hamster thing is mostly about Daddy and I wanting to play with arranging the tubes! We got Elsa the day before Cathulhu (Lulu) was supposed to leave, though we did wind up with a delay for a few days. We had Elsa for 2 weeks before deciding she was far too into nibbling people for her to be a good pet for the kids. We were within our guarantee period. We returned Elsa (who was not even the species that the girl had marked on our papers!) and wound up bringing [a new] Elsa and Anna home. These two together aren't as big as Elsa was! They've been together forever and are very young. Between that and their breed, we can keep them together.

I've had times when I worried that lacking a pet was somehow depriving our children of some important experience. I've even asked about opinions on that on my FB page. But now we do have pets, even if they're still not the kind that jump into your lap. Daddy talks of possibly getting a fish tank for the girls' room to use as a night light. The cat was my idea and I was willing to do the clean up work (which sucked right away, of course - and I did have the girls help). I've also done the cleaning / caring of the hamsters. I have absolutely no interest in taking care of an aquarium! If we get one, it will be entirely his project. We do have fun spit-balling ideas for the hamster cage, though! We change it at least once per week, on cage-cleaning day.

Oh yes, when we went to a local supply store for cage accessories, we came home with another tarantula, too! I feel like this is the year of the pets for our family!

Have you had any strange pets?
What pets do you refuse to have?
What pet would you love to have?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she's learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are "Woof" — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn't yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are "woof." Here's the proof.
  • Dude, where's my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn't. However, Adora's longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge--Learning from Animals--running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn't catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura's family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook is mostly vegetarian...not 100%, and not because of animal rights...yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn't sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It's not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus

    Kids, dog, haikus, at

    Dionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.
  • Beanie's BunniesOur Mindful Life's Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child's Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • 3 Reasons Why Keeping Backyard Chickens is Good for my Toddler — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, started keeping backyard chickens for the benefit of their eggs, but what she wasn't prepared for was what they would teach her two year old daughter too.


  1. We've had fish forever - since Kieran was a young toddler. We also kept my sister's cat for about a year, but that ended horribly, as the cat decided to make one of our carpeted rooms his personal litter box. (sigh) We've just taken the plunge again with a dog (we considered rabbits for awhile first) - my fingers are crossed that this is our perfect pet :)

    1. I had been told that rabbits were great for the yard, but then we'd need a hutch and... yeah, not looking to invest in all that! Then today I visited a friend's garden who has TWO free-range rabbits!! Her garden was amazing and those were some FAT, well-fed bunnies!

      And we had problems with a cat that kept marking anywhere my then-husband went! UGH

  2. Tarantulas! I have heard that they make good pets but having them in the wild around our house is close enough for me! Glad you have been able to find pets that fit your family though, even with the allergies and zoning restrictions.

    1. Tarantulas make GREAT pets! I've even caught them in the wild before!

      Speaking of zoning restrictions, I am curious about having chickens. I know I *can,* but I haven't researched it all yet. Our neighbor has a rooster.

  3. We had some pee problems with one of our rescue cats for several months — no fun! I finally was able to troubleshoot what the problem was, and now it's just the odd hairball cleanup. ;)

    We're planning on adopting a hedgehog sometime after this baby is born. I've had that dream for years!

    I'd like to do some easy-maintenance fish (is there such a thing?). We tried sea monkeys (brine shrimp), but they all died before adulthood, so we were bummed. We've also considered frogs and turtles and lizards — I think any of those would be cool. I've even thought about a bird, though they seem sort of messy, pooping from above as they do.

    I'm always worried about the warning labels they put on reptile cages saying they're not good for people with fragile immune systems, such as pregnant woman (check) and children (check). Do you ever have concerns like that? Whereas I'm not concerned about cats & toxoplasmosis because I've had cats for-ev-er. I think maybe it's a familiarity thing (which might or might not be unreasonable, haha).

    I don't think I could handle tarantulas or snakes, even though it makes me feel like a wuss for saying it, lol. We did have gerbils when we were first married, and I'd be happy to have some again sometime. If only for the fun of arranging the tubes! We had a three-story setup by the end. And watching them become our own personal paper shredders and giving them little veggie treats. I used to love that! They did escape a few times, though, and I'm a little concerned the cats might love them, too…

    That's my novel-length comment for the day! You inspired me. :)

    1. Yay for inspiring you! I always wanted to try Sea Monkeys! and those crystals you grow, too. Never did get to as a child.

      The hedgehog was fun, but when we moved we found that whenever we let it out it would poop in the same place. (Read: we found a lot of poop in one area)

      Birds are horribly messy and it isn't even the poop, its the FEATHERS! I won't own a bird, no thanks. Though I have friends that passionately appreciate the pet variety.

      I was alright having a cat when pregnant with Tyler, but didn't want a baby crawling on the floor when there was a litter box on the floor. We re-homed the cat before she was born. As for reptiles, I've never had them. I have read that you have to wash your hands after handling them. The CDC actually has a page about what you can catch from handling hamsters, too! So... lots of vague risks out there. And we don't handle the tarantulas. I did once upon a time, but haven't in ages. I lost my confidence and I don't like being the ONLY one willing to do it (in case I need help). I once had a tarantula choose my armpit as a nice warm spot to sit... and I was home alone with 3 children, none of whom were allowed to hold the spider! It was really hard to get a hold of her with one hand and without moving the other arm.

      Tarantulas are actually amazingly low maintenance pets to keep! You can feed them once per week or once per month. You only have to replace their dirt twice per year! And SOOOO cheap to feed!

      I wondered if I could just give our hamsters paper. Back when Tyler was little, her hamster had crinkled paper we got at the pet store, but the pet store pushes this other stuff now that looks like crumpled puffs of cardboard. Its weird. The food looks gross, too. I want to get our hamsters some real food.

      There! A nice, long reply. :D

  4. I've always had a dog r cat (for many years both at the same time). We currently have a dog and 5 chickens, but my heart years for another dog after web had o put down our faithful 14 yr old this past November. Pets are so much work, but children learn so much from them :)

  5. My sister had a hermit crab but that's about as odd as our pets have been! But once we move out to some property (someday) I'd love a goat and some chickens. All my pet fantasies center around farm animals :)

  6. Sounds like a fun household! We never had tarantulas, be we had a lot of fun with hamsters and cats (and an outdoor dog). As a Montessori teacher, I loved having gerbils and hermit crabs in the classroom. :)

  7. We started out with a snake and then got a lizard and inherited a turtle. But two summers ago the snake and lizard died and the turtle was given to a friend. So now we just have the dog! But we're getting a new reptile later this summer and I'm really excited to be back in the world of reptiles a bit. They're so great!

  8. Had I gotten over here in a more timely manner, my comment would have been different. But tonight, I just got a huuuuuuge bite from a wolf spider nesting at the bottom of my bed. My ankle was slaughtered. So while I normally would adore your choice of pets, I'm not to cool with the arachnids tonight. ;)

    Having said that, I used to breed exotic frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, bearded dragons, and tagus. And most people thought I was nuts and wouldn't let their kids near my tank room!


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