Dear Critter Chat,

My kids, 6 and 8, have been hounding me for a dog.  I don’t like dogs and don’t want one but people keep saying how good it will be for the kids.  I’m sick of fighting about this.  Should I give in or keep saying “No?”


Dear Hounded,

This one’s got disaster written all over it.  Don’t do it. No matter how much your kids promise and pinky-swear that they’ll walk the dog, feed the dog, play with the dog, etc., assume it ain’t gonna happen.  Assume, too, that YOU’LL be the one taking care of it.  If you’re okay with that adopt a dog.  Otherwise, stick to your guns.  Thousands of dog ends up (back) at the shelter every year because someone wasn’t prepared for the work, the time, and the expense that goes along with dog ownership. And right before that trip to the shelter comes a lot of screaming, resentment, and tears.  It wouldn’t be fair to you and it wouldn’t be fair to the dog.

I’d suggest waiting until the kids are old enough to fully grasp the commitment and  responsibilities involved in owning a pet (and to make sure this isn’t just a passing fancy, like the time I begged my parents for a chimpanzee).  If your kids still want a dog  (and your dislike for them has worn off by then(!)), I’d suggest having everyone sign a family contract stating who’s going to do what.

Critter Chat is a weekly column from attorney Deborah Knaan, who seeks to answer your animal-related questions. Email questions to with subject line CRITTER CHAT.