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Why Pets Are Important

expat life expat mums expat parenting expat parenting abroad Oct 01, 2019

There is something about a child caring for and loving an animal. It helps them to learn responsibility for others, but also how their actions can impact on others. It also gives them complete, unconditional love in return.


Moving to Taipei and living in an apartment independent of the hotel for the first time gave us the opportunity to consider a pet for our girls. We hesitated for a long time because although we both grew up with animals, we are not always sure how long we will live somewhere and if we can take our pet with us. 


But after last summer, watching the girls playing with other people's dogs and cats, hubby and I discussed it a little more and decided that this was our opportunity. So after a bit of research (ok, a lot of research… I am a bit nerdy!) we adopted a rescue kitten Ebony. 


Ebony became their little sister, and while bringing a little bit of havoc to our lives… namely sleepless nights again!?! She also delivered exactly what we wanted for the girls. 

Every morning they had to clean her litter tray and feed her. Every evening they had to feed her again. And when they were home, they loved playing with her. 


But then the move to Auckland happened so quickly, when I looked into taking Ebony with us we didn’t have enough time to get the extra vaccines and paperwork we needed. 


So I did a ring around… well I rang a friend who I knew loved cats and was moving into a house, and asked if she and her family would consider adopting Ebony. She didn’t hesitate! Thank goodness!


When we broke the news to the girls that we were moving, of course their first question was “will Ebony come?” And it completely broke their hearts that she wasn’t, “but she’s our sister!” The fact that we know she is going to a loving family did help in the end, but my goodness it was a morning of tears!


Literally days later, as I am turning my attention to the actual move and what I need to do (ie starting to make lists!) dear Ebony fell off our balcony, 8 floors into the garden. I thought she was dead. I thought I was going down to collect her body and bring her back to let the girls grieve. But miraculously, she survived!!! Not only did she survive, but she had very limited injuries and required no surgery!!!


To this day, I don’t know how she fell, nor how she survived it. But that moment, when we brought her home from the vet, the girls realised that taking Ebony with us wasn’t fair to her. The change in environment, the change in climate, the fact that she would have to go on the plane, they were in complete agreement that Ebony staying with friends in Taipei was best for her.


Wow! I’m not sure where this sense of maturity came from, but I have to say I was very relieved. I really didn’t want to face the last couple of weeks with teary girls every time they saw their precious Ebony! Instead, they became her carer while she recovered from her injuries. Another life lesson for our dear girls.


So in all the emotional upheaval of moving, we were dealing with Ebony as well. I look back now and I wonder how we did it!?!


Now I reflect, I realise how important having a pet is for children. The life lessons that they learn through the caring for another. The experience is priceless. Not that we will rush into getting a new pet… but I am grateful for having Ebony in our lives.


Do you have a pet? What life lessons have your kids learned from your pet? Please do share, I would love to hear from you.


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