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Laura on Life

Pros and Cons of Pets
By Laura Snyder
Feb 7, 2012 - 5:55:01 AM

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There are pros and cons when it comes to owning pets. Before you adopt or buy one, you have to weigh these carefully.

One of the biggest cons, unfortunately, is that if you have a child and the pet dies or disappears before they reach adulthood, you will be coping with this child's broken heart for a very long time.

If you consider the fact that a pet's average lifespan is usually shorter than a human's, it is very likely that your child will get his heart broken.

Of course, if your pet is a Galapagos Tortoise, which can live 150 years, it is not likely that your child will be witness to its death, but you'll have to provide for it in your will. A pro and a con.

Another con: Even if you could train a tortoise to fetch a stick, it could take a year to get it back. Who has that kind of time to invest?

Most people will own a cat or a dog. A dog knows how to fetch a stick properly and can be taught to corner intruders, but a cat is low maintenance. However, both of these animals will leave hair on your carpets and furniture. Tortoises don't have hair.

A dog or a cat can run away if you let them outdoors. Tortoises can try, but they need a considerable head start.

My daughter wanted a pet for her birthday. My two oldest sons decided to pitch in a buy her all the equipment she needed for pet fish.

I thought that was a perfect idea. No hair, no running away, no stick fetching. Lots of pros.

They were neon-colored fish called Glofish. They were actually a hybrid that seemed to glow under a black light. She loved them. There was one each of five different colors: Purple, green, yellow, orange, and pink. The pink was the smallest and, of course, her favorite. The purple was the largest.

By the end of the day, she had named each one.

The hardest part of owning a pet, for me, was watching my children go through the heartbreak of losing one. The whole "Circle of Life" speech was pathetically incapable of healing such heartbreak. So, in my mind, fish were a good pick and I was grateful to my sons for being so generous and sensitive about that issue. My daughter has a very tender heart. If she were to lose a pet, she would definitely blame herself. She would be inconsolable.

She was delighted with these colorful little fish, however. Bubbles, the pink fish, like to spend its time inside a neon-striped rock prop that the boys bought for the tank. My daughter wished it was a little more extroverted.

If a fish could strut, Mr. Big, the purple one, did. He was definitely the alpha-fish.

On the third day, my daughter woke up and turned on the black light. The little neon-colored fish flitted in and out of the plastic plants and tropical props. They were easy to see. None of them had any protective abilities whatsoever. So it was interesting to note that Bubbles couldn't be seen. My daughter removed the rock it liked to hide in; no Bubbles. Did it jump out?

She called me in to look; no Bubbles. I looked at Mr. Big suspiciously. Was it my imagination, or did Mr. Big gain some weigh? And do fish smile?

One pro for dogs and cats: They don't eat each other.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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