We have an English Mastiff X border collie named Janu that we got as an eight-week-old pup when my son Talin was six months old. I wanted Janu not only because I’d always had pets as a child but also for some extra security for this little being I was all of a sudden responsible for.
Talin and Janu are growing up together and they are very close. I don’t know whether Janu identified this little creature meant no harm, or that Talin grew to deeply love this fluffy puppy who was always by his side no matter what, but we have only ever had to tell Talin once if he did something to Janu and an explanation as to why helps Talin understand.
Having Janu teaches Talin a lot. Janu has been a great example for us to show Talin that everyone needs to eat. Talin is three and a fussy eater. He loves to help feed Janu so when he decides food isn’t a necessity, we tell him how Janu loves to eat, and how hungry his belly would be if he didn’t.
While Janu is a placid dog it hasn’t made us complacent about other animals. Talin has always been told to ask an owner if he is allowed to pat their dog and the owner will always advise Talin on whether to be gentle, or where to pat the dog. A lot of Talin’s friends have been afraid of Janu at first because of his large, 35kg build. Talin has actively used Janu to show the child he is harmless and encouraged them to pat him, throw a ball for him and in no time at all we have two very occupied children playing in the backyard with this loveable, big brown dog.
A pet is a massive commitment and if you get a young puppy, it can be quite disruptive to your lives while you toilet and sleep train. When Janu was a puppy he chewed everything; shoes, toys, outdoor furniture and cushions were ripped apart. It can be very frustrating when they are too young to understand, and quite frankly would still do it even if they did. We also have to make arrangements for Janu if we go away. However, in our opinion the effort is totally worth it. Janu is such a big part of our family, and has such a strong bond with Talin, we cannot imagine life without him.
We are not going to have a pet in the family while my son is young. The idea of trying to look after an animal and give it the care it needs while looking after my toddler overwhelms me. Pets, especially kittens and puppies, need a lot of care and maintenance and as my partner Kosta works long hours I know I would have to do all the work. Kosta and our toddler Jenson would probably play with it on the weekend but be too busy during week and realistically that's not the kind of life I would want for an animal in our care.
I also worry about the safety of having a pet around my son at his age. Jenson is just over 12 months and too little to understand the concept of being gentle yet. When he touches an animal, he usually pinches or pulls their fur and I worry it may lash out or bite him. If we had a dog or a cat I feel like I would need to be constantly aware of where it and Jenson were for that reason and who needs that stress in their lives? Also, when Jenson’s friends come around I don’t want the concern of a dog jumping up on or biting them. I want my friends to feel safe bringing their kids for a play date and be able to relax instead of having to watch and work out the temperament of an animal.
We holiday regularly and I think finding someone to look after a pet could become difficult. There are only so many times you can impose on friends to look after and feed a pet and a paid service would be an expensive addition to our holiday budget. Then there are the ongoing costs like food, insurance and vet care and at the moment we’d rather spend our money on others things.
I’m not going to completely rule out having a pet, we may consider one when Jenson is older, but while kids are very young I don’t think there are any benefits to having one. Most are too young to understand how to treat an animal or take on some of the responsibilities of looking after it. They get bored of things easily, too. I think there’s a time for pet ownership and that is when children are older.