Growing up with animals

I grew up in the country side, and my dad was the local country vet. I was always surrounded by animals; we had dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, a pig, sometimes we even had cows. And, lucky me, I was always allowed to have my own pony. When I left my parents to study in a different part of the country, I really missed having animals in the house.

For my kids, life is a little different. Living in a big-ish city, and a small-ish house, we don’t have any pets (not after the goldfish died). But when Sara started horse riding lessons at the local manage here in Amsterdam, I discovered a joy in her eyes that reminded me of what it is like to grow up with animals. To have that special bond, to take care of a living being, to cuddle up to it when you’re sad, to feel the warmth… It is such a very special feeling.

We recently visited friends in the centre of Brussels who just got a huge dog, and it was so cute to see the kids playing and cuddling with her. But, the parents did have some feelings of regret, after their beautifully designed back yard had been totally destroyed by the puppy, their vintage carpets were peed upon, and the sofa had become a dog bed…

Pros and cons taken, I’m now seriously considering getting a little dog or a cat… Maybe next year, when Casper is a little bit bigger. (Or, maybe we would be able to fit a horse in our tiny backyard here in Amsterdam? Or would our neighbours mind some chickens you think?)

What is your take on growing up with animals? Did you grow up with animals? Do you have one now, or are you thinking of getting one? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

xxx Esther

PS Photos of Sara with her granddad’s horse. ‘Hello’ jumper is from Hello Apparel.

10 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. KatieBenTosc | October 11, 2013 | Reply

I agree with you, living among animals is the best. My grandparents had a farm and I grew up among cows, sheep, rabbits, chickens, dogs, cats and even a horse. In my parents house my sister and I had our own cat and (big) dog. I loved them so much. So why is it that today we have only goldfish in our homes? Always thinking that the house is too small, the garden too small, that we would have to clean more with animals, that it would be a problem to go on holidays etc… I might reconsider things thanks to your post! Too bad I know I can’t get my children a poney. :-)
Thank you for sharing, your daughter is lovely.

2. Esther in Amsterdam | October 15, 2013

Thank you! Let me know what you decide! x

3. Linda Van Arsdale | October 11, 2013 | Reply

I also grew up on a farm in the country. My children love animals so when we moved to Amsterdam I felt it was important to bring animals into our lives. We live in an above house and have two cats, four fish and a chocolate lab. I did my research before getting these animals and found breeders with calm family pets. Our cats are gentle and our dog is very mellow. Our dog rides in our bakfiets with us everywhere we go! Yes, it is a pain to bring him for a walk in the rain at night before bedtime, but ultimately it is worth the joy he brings to our kids and family. He doesn’t chew on our furniture or pee on our carpets so that doesn’t have to be your experience. But I do think spending the time to find the right breeder who knows the personalities of their puppies is important. And to select a breed that will be content to just hang out with the family. For example I would never chose a dog that is bred to herd sheep to live in the city because it will become bored easily and start to destroy your home. When we lived in Washington, D.C. our dog was trained to not use our backyard as his toilet, he always did his business on walks. So your backyard doesn’t have to become a dog run if you don’t want it to. It takes some effort to train dogs but it is doable. I vote yes on family pets in the city!!

4. Esther in Amsterdam | October 15, 2013

Good to know! And thanks for your advice about selecting the right breed — that makes total sense.

5. Annie | October 11, 2013 | Reply

This is a great post, and just what I needed to read! We have two cats and a dog in an NYC apartment, and expecting our first baby in two months. I’ve been a little nervous about how it will all go, but your post is a great reminder of how wonderful animals are, especially for children. Thank you!

6. Helen Welch | October 11, 2013 | Reply

Hi
Lovely horse. It is such a hard decision and a complete commitment. I lived in country with dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, chickens, you name it and loved it. Your animals can be the one you can tell everything to. I now live with my 2 boys and hubby in a small town with small garden and would love pets but at the moment feel its too much of a commitment. Looking after them and creating the best environment is important and I want to do it right, but like you I am thinking maybe soon just when the smallest is a bit bigger. Luckily like you the grandparents are still in the country and still with a few animals about so a visit down there is always a treat for all of us, except my husband who is allergic to animal hairs, hopefully he will grow out of it ;)

7. tracy | October 11, 2013 | Reply

We have a homestead. Three slobbering dogs, three cats, a handful of bunnies and Guinea pigs, some goats, and a duck. I wouldn’t want it any other way – the kids love all their animals and are eager to help every single day. They spend most of their time outside playing games with the bunnies, walking the goats, and playing pretend.

8. Esther in Amsterdam | October 15, 2013

Oh, I love that! I used to walk the goat when I was little as well! : )

9. Estelle | October 11, 2013 | Reply

I completely agree. Animals played a central part in my life as a child. We had a dog and various small animals (hamsters, rabbits) at home and I was lucky enough to have a pony for a while too. I have never felt so content as when out riding on my own. There’s simply nothing like it. Sadly, my husband is allergic to dogs so we can’t have one in the house, but when my boys are old enough we will have a hamster or some rabbits. Whether they are interested in horses remains to be seen, but I really hope they are!

10. Emilie | October 14, 2013 | Reply

We never had animals and I was always so sad about it. We don’t have any in Paris, as it is a bit mean to have a dog and a cat in a small apartment and it is one of my big regrets!

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