I love animals. I’ve always enjoyed having a pet (or two or three) around the household. It is hard for me to resist the cuteness of a kitten or a puppy, and yet, having pets is a huge responsibility. Our kids share my love of animals, and a few years back, I recognized we needed to have some sort of system to determine if a new pet would be beneficial to the household. Since my inclination is always to say “yes”, and Steve’s is always to say “no”, we had to strike a balance.
So we came up with the idea that if a kid wanted to add a new animal to the household, they needed to write a business case for the new addition. This business case included a description of the potential pet, their habitat, what they eat, and the cost of the pet, including food and potential vet bills, how the pet would interact and get along with other pets in the household, who is responsible for taking care of the pet, and how the pet would benefit the family. The act of writing the business case weeded out those spontaneous desires to bring home a cute thing from Petsmart, and gave us the opportunity as a family to discuss and vote on a new pet. For instance, one son wanted a hedgehog, but after presenting the business case and realizing that its interaction with others would be pretty limited, and that it would live mostly in a cage in his room, decided this wasn’t such a great pet after all. (At least not at this time…it wouldn’t surprise me if he got one eventually!)
This system worked well for us. It gave the kids some experience in writing a business case and underscored the importance and impact of having pets in a household. At least, I should say it worked well until I decided to buy a horse. There is simply no logic in that, only love.