Answering the Call of the Wild

What can you do if your kids pine for pets, but adoption is not an option in your home? Maybe the cost of pet ownership is too high or your family doesn’t have time to care for a pet full time. Maybe the family travels often or the sting of losing a furry family member has yet to wear off.

Whether you are choosing to go without a pet or simply putting ownership off for now, don’t let your kids miss out on making connections with the animal kingdom. Go ahead and speak openly with your family about the reasons why you choose not to have a pet at this time. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking children who are passionate about animals will stop longing simply because they can’t have them in the house.

If your kids would prefer pet ownership, encourage them to talk about any feelings of disappointment and frustration. Then soften the blow by making the most of these animal-related resources. Just because you don’t have a real-live pet at home does not mean you can’t fill your home with animal appreciation. Animals have much to teach us about humanity, love, and connection. By taking a multi-sensory approach, your kids won’t feel like they are missing out.

Even though your children may experience disappointment when they discover pets are not an option. Ultimately, they are sure to appreciate your efforts to incorporate animal appreciation for the whole family.

So you can’t have pets. Here’s what you can do, instead.

For Younger Children
1. Make regular stops at the local pet store
2. Feed outdoor friends
3. Visit neighbors with pets
4. Play pet store with stuffed animals
5. Buy birdseed and keep yard feeders full
6. Get a zoo membership
7. Collect plastic animal figurines
8. Visit the aquarium
9. Read books about animals
10. Make animal-themed crafts
11. Watch films about animals
12. Look for animal interactions at the library
13. Throw animal-themed birthday parties
14. Play with animal memory cards
15. Dress up as animals for Halloween
16. Check out day camp programs with animals

For Older Children
17. Volunteer at a farm
18. Join 4-H
19. Offer pet-sitting and dog-walking services
20. Volunteer or temporarily foster at animal shelters
21. Get a job or internship at the pet store or vet’s office
22. Attend animal-oriented sleep-away camp
23. Volunteer to care for pets owned by seniors
24. Download an app with daily amazing animal facts
25. Make family donations to animal organizations

Books About Animals
• Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss
• The Story Of Ferdinand by Robert Lawson
• Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney
• The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
• Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
• Olivia by Ian Falconer
• Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
• Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne
• Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
• Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
• Because Of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
• The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
• Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
• Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
• Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
• Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
• Warriors, any in the series by Erin Hunter
• Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland

Documentaries About Animals
• Planet Earth Series
• IMAX Born To Be Wild
• Dogs Decoded
• Life Of Birds
• Life Of Mammals
• Madagascar: Island Of The Lemurs
• Nature: Animal Add Couples
• Winged Migration
• Arctic Tale
• March Of The Penguins
• Under The Sea

Movies About Animals
• The Black Stallion
• The Adventures Of Milo and Otis
• Homeward Bound
• Beethoven
• National Velvet
• My Dog Skip
• Babe
• Old Yeller
• Lassie
• Stuart Little
• Free Willy
• The Incredible Journey
• Because Of Winn Dixie
• The Golden Compass
• Black Beauty
• Dolphin Tale
• Where The Red Fern Grows

Animated Movies About Animals
• Winnie The Pooh
• Ratatouille
• 101 Dalmatians
• The Aristocats
• The Lion King
• The Jungle Book
• Finding Nemo
• Lady and the Tramp
• Tarzan
• The Rescuers
• The Good Dinosaur
• Horton Hears A Who
• Bolt
• The Fox And The Hound
• Fantastic Mr. Fox
• Happy Feet
• Ice Age