Look at my photo gallery on my phone and you will mostly see photos of Ophelia and animals. You see, this kid can’t pass a cat on the street without saying Hello and giving it a stroke.
Having grown up with two dogs, two rats and a hamster, I think pets really are important to childhood; the skills you learn, the emotions you feel and the impact on your life is quite remarkable.
This is already clear with Ophelia; every day she immediately calls out for “NARI” the moment we open the front door. Her face lights up when Inara does anything naughty/stupid/funny. She has learnt to be gentle, to share (Inara sleeps in her tent!), to feed her and to play with her; all before she’s school age.
Recently we went to meet some little guinea pigs and she squealed almost as much as they did. But she listened when we explained the need to be calm and quiet, she sat perfectly still when it was on her lap, gently stroking and revelling in this new animal experience.
Dogs are a slightly different matter, she loves them but is a bit more apprehensive. My sister’s dogs are so great with her and she loves throwing the ball for them in the garden. However, she worries when they jump up, they’re border collies so pretty big! She’s even more apprehensive of Callum’s Mum’s dog, ever since as a puppy she nibbled her, I think it affected her confidence. She shys behind me when we go to visit, and the dog has to be kept on a lead, otherwise it is so boisterous that it’s uncontrollable. Not in a dangerous or vicious way, shes just a young dog with little discipline. This in itself is teaching her differences, and to sometimes be warey.
I can’t wait to see her continue to embrace interacting with our pets, maybe we’ll have a dog of our own one day.