It's never to early to get kids used to the idea of adopting dogs and cats but how? You can definitely take them to a shelter to see how it works, talk to the shelter staff to learn about your region's rescue operations, and generally absorbing all things Rescue.
Another way, which I had no idea existed until this month, is to have a birthday party for your kids at the shelter. It costs a minimal amount ($50 in our area) and is a great way for the shelter to introduce what they do to young children. While all my cats are rescues, I had no idea that you could do this - just when I thought I knew everything ;)
Yesterday, my just-turned-seven daughter Ellie and her friend Wren had a joint birthday party at the Geauga Humane Society's Rescue Village. I take no credit for the idea , which goes to Paola, Wren's mom, who had done this before for her older son. In addition, I was very impressed with Ellie and Wren who chose a Rescue Village party over a Dazzle party (whatever that is) and agreed to forgo gifts from their guests in favor of donations to the shelter in the form of items off their wish list.
The party started off with a tour of the facilities by Mary, our host. Much amusement was found in the barn where there were, among other things, 2 roosters, 2 chickens, and a very curious billy goat (who was rather creepy to be honest - he was looking for a lurv partner it you get my drift). The dogs and cats came in all shapes, sizes, and level of energy. I had to hold back in the cat room, where there was a very friendly long-haired tuxedo cat who so desperately wanted me to take him home. He told me so.
Then the girls got to pet a very cute puffball of a young dog who wiggled and licked his way around the crowd and then peed on the floor in excitement - usual doggy stuff - as well pet a 4 month old kitten who purred and shook his way around the room. Lots of oohs and aahs.
Mary also showed the girls how the martingale collar that the dog was wearing worked and how it stayed loose when it needed to be and humanely tight when it needed to be. Then there was the "hand", which caused much hilarity since it's a rubber arm on a stick that is used to check a dog's temperament around food. Better to have a fake arm bitten than your own. The girls got a kick out of touching it's rubbery exterior and being creeped out - you know how 7 year old girls are.
Then it was chocolate chip cupcakes that Paola brought from home (silence ensued except for nom nom sounds) and cat toy crafts for the shelter cats and goody bags to take home.
I think it's a wonderful way to introduce the kids to the concept of rescuing pets (they all had a ball), but also a great way show their parents where the facility is in case they'd never been. No harm in planting the seed of adding another cat or dog to the household is there?
Special thanks to Mary, our gracious host, who patiently put up with interruptions from enthusiastic girls wanting to tell stories about their cats. You are a star!
Have your kids ever been to a shelter for a party or as part of a cub scouts or brownies? What did they think of the whole experience?