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March 08, 1996 - Image 114

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-03-08

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"Mom, Dad,
Can We Get A Dog?"

Getting a pet is a big responsibility,
but the rewards are more than milkbones.



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fter a year of begging and
pleading, Andrew and Cara
Deutchman finally talked
their parents into getting a

"The kids convinced me they
absolutely wanted a dog, and I
agreed on a small, non-shedding
puppy," Cathy Deutchman said.
"We ended up getting a miniature
schnauzer. But, before we agreed,
the kids promised they would
walk and feed the dog.
"My husband is up early so he
feeds Rex his morning meal. But
if the dog is going to eat dinner,
it's not going to be my husband or
myself feeding him."
Surprising to most parents who
have found or find themselves in
the 'Can we get a dog?' predica-
ment, Cara, 11, and Andrew, 15,
who have had Rex for four years,
still take care of him regularly.
Other parents would do any-
thing to know the Deutchmans'
secret. In reality, it's usually mom
or dad who ends up handling the
pet responsibilities.
"I'm not sure why it is," Ms.
Deutchman said about her suc-
cess. "They just know if they don't
do it, it's not going to get done."
"Parents have to realize that
probably the ultimate responsi-
bility will fall on them," said Steve
Selfon, a veterinarian at the Road-
side Veterinary Clinic in Highland
Township. "They will be the ulti-
mate supervisor."
Veterinarians, psychologists,
and perhaps the best expert of all
— parents — agree children and
pets can be a worthwhile combi-
But anyone, adult or child, has
to realize it's a responsibility.
"Owning a pet is a family af-
fair," said Dr. Hillel Rosenfeld, a
psychologist who works for Oak-
land County's children's mental-
health program and in private
practice. "It's a family responsi-
bility, but often it will default to
the primary caretaker of the
home. That's why I might start of
with fish or something small. It's
an incremental learning experi-
Cara Deutchman agrees Rex is
a big chore, but she does it because
"that was the only way we could
get a dog."
David Fink, owner of Pet Sup-
ply Warehouse in Dearborn, con-
firms there are no magic answers
to handling the responsibility is-

"It's good to try and teach kids
Dr. Selfon suggests parents ex-
responsibility (through pets), but pose their children to other peo-
whether it's possible or not de- ple's pets to see how the child
pends on the kids, the parent and
reacts and interacts with the an-
the pet."
Once a family makes the deci-
"Parents cannot expect their 5-
sion to bring a pet into their home,
or 6-year-old to handle a large
deciding on what kind of animal dog," Dr. Selfon said. "A dog can
takes careful consideration. Some tell by the grip on its leash what
experts agree Labrador or golden to expect. It's not unreasonable to
retrievers make the best pets for
ask a young child to feed, provide
families with young children.
water or brush the dog, but be-
They say the dogs' non-aggressive
yond that, a dog probably will not
behavior makes them ideal. Oth-
listen because of lack of strength
ers say there is no such thing as
in holding the leash or or in the
the right pet.
"The best pets are the ones the
He also warns against owning
entire family wants," said Dr. An-
exotic pets with young children
drew Dworkis of the Pet
in the house. Some
Practice. "Size, shape,
snakes, he said, can
and type are a matter of
The be st pets
scare a child, and igua-
are the o nes the
preference. Dogs are one
nas require special han-
of man's best pets, but if entire fam ily wants, dling because of their
accordin g to Dr.
a family is not around a
claws. Owners of par-
lot, its the wrong pet for
rots or other large birds
that family."
also need to be cautious

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