Adopting dogs, lassoing bees and other pet projects

An ISPCA campaign to raise awareness about animal welfare got me thinking about my history with pets

A lad from my old street told us he liked to keep bees as pets, claiming that he would lie in wait for them in the park, and, when one landed close enough, he would lasso it

A lad from my old street told us he liked to keep bees as pets, claiming that he would lie in wait for them in the park, and, when one landed close enough, he would lasso it

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 01:00

The ISPCA is running a novel campaign at the moment in an effort to raise awareness about animal welfare, appropriately named My Dog Ate It . A €2 donation will entitle a pupil to one free pass on a piece of their homework (excluding important course work). Interested schools can apply online or contact the ISPCA directly to receive a pack with everything needed to take part. Money raised will help rehabilitate abused and neglected animals in the ISPCA’s care.

At the moment, my wife and I are debating whether to bring an animal into our house. I would like to say that we have plenty of time to come to a decision on the matter, but there are other factors influencing the outcome. You see, my daughter has recently taken a rock as a pet. It’s hard and lumpy, as most rocks are, but it differs slightly in that it goes by the name “Mog”. She showed it to a friend in school, but this classmate doesn’t share my daughter’s belief that rocks can be kept as pets. They have since fallen out over the matter.

It’s not the first time the concept of a pet has come up in my house. Whenever something with fur or scales appears on the television, without fail, one of my daughters will ask, “Can we get one?”

I try to avoid the obvious excuses for not getting a pet, namely the mess and the excessive hair and the smell because, let’s be honest, I don’t want them thinking that these are good enough reasons to get rid of me when they hit their teens.

But I do point out that taking care of a pet requires work, patience and plenty of time.

“Dogs are not just for Christmas,” I said once.

“Emm,” my youngest daughter said, folding her arms and raising an eyebrow. “We’re getting a turkey for Christmas, Daddy. Remember?”

I’m still not sure if she thought we were getting a living turkey that year or whether she believed I was planning to eat a dog for Christmas lunch.

My wife recently commented on how the local rescue centres are always looking for people to adopt animals. I have looked at the ISPCA’s website, and it is easy to see how someone could warm to the idea. There is page after page of photographs of possible adoptees, various breeds, different characters, all abandoned or neglected, and most better able to strike a pose than I.

There are also the benefits of owning a pet to consider, especially for kids. Interaction can help teach compassion, respect and responsibility.

Sometimes they can even inspire confidence. I remember, growing up in Ballymun, there were a few small groups of youths who owned and cared for horses, shaggy old nags that loitered on random green spaces in the town.

“Eat and breathe those animals,” I overheard a neighbour say once. “Sure, they’d be nothing without their horses.”

Back then, I paid little mind to the statement, but now I think about those kids sometimes and I understand what my neighbour was getting at: that these lads would feel they were worth nothing if they didn’t have those horses.

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