Pets in the House

rachel

We are starting our job as houseparents on January 2. We have a five pound dog and a cat – both stay indoors. Our administrator has given us the okay to bring the pets to live in the house with us. Should we be concerned about the safety of our pets – living in a home with trouble teenaged girls?

I know that this is an ugly question to ask, and I apologize in advance. But hey, if you’ve read the “diary of a childcare worker” then you saw the cat that was hanging from a noose!

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webmaster

You are fortunate to be allowed to have a pet, most facilities have stopped allowing pets.

Our facility also allows pets, though we don’t have one now. We have to leave the cottage when we go on relief, and don’t want to move pets anymore, but when we had them, we found that the children were very nurturing toward them for the most part. Even our Juvenile Delinquent children in Wyoming.

The only issue I have ever had with children and pets was with my Cockatiel. We had a group of boys in one cottage that teased it, and it became mean. I lost all my cats (4 total) to stray dogs. They would get out of the house and never come back.

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dontlietokids.net

Yep! No pets allowed where I am.

As for the kids, most times the only child you have to watch out for will be the mean child you can spot a mile away. From my experience, they are rare unless you’re going to a very troubled facility (meaning they take on especially hard cases).

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Housepop

All three homes that we have worked at have allowed pets. Our first dog a cocker spaniel always knew which child needed a little extra loving or when a new child came into the house he was always there next to them. He became an important part of our team. Always giving special attention to someone who needed him to love on them. Sometimes Spud,( he was the runt of the litter and looked like a little tater) would just adopt someone for the day and follow them around the house and love on them until they didn’t need him any longer and then he would return to my wife’s side where he spent most of his time. The unconditional love a pet can sometimes make a difference in a child’s life. Our current dog Bogart is really good at checking the rooms when the girls are out for the day, he is real good at finding notes they have hidden or socks that they hide under the bed that they didn’t want to put away like instructed. He has also found a candy stash or two, so the girls have learned that if we don’t find it Bogart probably will. Pets can add such joy to a house that we have found that the children have responded very will to having them around. Neither dog was ever hurt by any of the children we have had in 3 different homes and 10years of house parenting. Just blessed I guess. 

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bakergirl

I agree with the others. The home we spent time at had teenage girls and they LOVED the family dog. I think unless you go to a very high level care facility you will be fine. We are taking our Brittany (formerly called brittany spaniel) and are looking forward to watching her take care of the kids. She was a rescue dog so I think she will fit in perfect. I’ve seen her change attitudes between my dh and a small child so I know she will be great with the kids. I don’t worry about her safety because she knows danger from a mile away. Animals are so instinctual I bet your pets will be fine. Another idea is to email another hp couple that has pets and see how their animals are doing (I mean a hp couple from your facility).

One thing we do that might help keep them safe is to make sure they sleep in your room. Our Brittany does that anyway because she needs the contact but that would add an extra bit of protection.

Congrats on the job! We start our first job Jan 8th so I bet we have similar stories soon!

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Launchpad

We have a dog and a cat mixed in with six boys. I agree with everyone else here that the pets are an awesome addition and for the most part the kids are great with them, but stay vigilant on ALL shots and vaccinations. Keep the paper work in the office of the house or somewhere close you can pull them out if asked. I have never had any issues with a state inspection asking for the copies but I figure I have them if the man comes knocking. It would also come in handy if a kid ever got bitten or scratched.

When we were up north the kids were actually calmer when the dog was around. We had a boy that would always calm down when he could pet the dog. He started learning the dog would only sit with him if he was calm.

We have had a boy here throw the cat over the stair banister into the basement. The cat was fine but the other boys wanted to throw him over the banister. No issues since then. 

The only other animal issue I have heard of was a couple of kids at my old facility dumped a quart of 10w-40 they snagged out of a staff members truck, into the houses aquarium (30 gallon). The aquarium got smashed a few months later from a flying projectile. I have no idea what happened to the fish, but it probably wasn’t good.

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bakergirl

Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat. My dh wanted to get a big aquarium for our house. We have two and when the fish have babies (which is often), every kid that comes over sits staring at them. We thought it would be good for the kids but that scares me a lot. Our kids are going to be basic care- I wonder if this will be an issue…

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Launchpad

If you’re allowed to have an aquarium and want to get one for you and your kids- do it.

I have come to the realization that everything I own and hold near and dear to me will not make into eternity with me. We do have a nice apartment aside from the house, but we choose to hang all of our family pictures and knick-knacks throughout the house. I even have a key wind clock my grandfather made sitting on the mantle in the house.

Have any of my personal belongings been broken? Yep, it sure has. It has also taught me what is really important. I loved Grandpa, but if the clock gets broke, the clock gets broke. I think Gramps would be more honored that I’m doing my best to make a home for kids who need it rather than putting his craftsmanship in the attic. All the knick-knacks my wife and I have collected tell a story. Every kid in the house knows the stories, just like my own bio kids will. We take pictures of the kids and hang them along with all of our bio families, there is no separation between the two. The kids have really liked it, and to date they have not messed with or broken any heirlooms, pictures or knick-knacks. They have treated it with respect because it has become part of their story as well. But I am fully prepared for something to get demolished.

The things that have been busted up of mine have been a laptop and a cell phone. Both of those got thrown by a kid at the last facility. I also like nice pens and they disappear frequently (At least they are working on penmanship!)

My philosophy is this job is your life. It’s a mixture of the professional and the emotional. If God has truly called you, how much are you willing to lay down to follow that voice? Ask yourself if a kid destroyed everything you owned and the facility was two weeks late in paying you, would you still be a house parent? There is enough that happens in a week that would make me want to explore other professions and ministries, but I can’t. I have only been doing this work now for about three years. in that short amount of time I bet I have seen 50 people (admin and hp’s) quit who were “Called by God”.

True story- My wife and I were talking with a lady who had just started about two days before. We were at the kitchen table and she was talking about how God specifically called her to work at the facility. She about had me in tears with her testimony. She walked out of the house, got in her car, and began to pull out. A baseball from the house next door hit her windshield and cracked it (accidentally). She got out of the car, screamed at the kid and left. The next day we were informed she quit. 

Share your life with the kids, don’t hold back. It will probably cause an early death from all the stress of putting it on the line every day, but at least you can go with the knowledge your relatives won’t have to fight over what’s left of your estate after being a house parent for thirty years. 

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webmaster

Launchpad – we are the same way with our stuff. The entire house is decorated with many of our things, to include at least the better half of the Christmas Decorations. Our staff lounge is open to all members of the house, and we will even let the children on occasion watch the TV in our bedroom. (Our quarters are not separate from the house, but integrated with it – we leave during days off and share it with relief staff though all the furnishings are ours)

In 10 years as a houseparent I have lost a very expensive camera because a resident smashed it on the ground. I have had 3 cars keyed, all our cars dented by bats, balls, and bicycles. My children have lost several toys and collectibles to include a couple of game systems. He have had a couple of hundred dollars worth of cash stolen over the years, and I can’t count all the Cd’s & DVDs that have been lost or stolen. My cockatiel was ruined and we have had probably 20 houseplants killed by being fed various substances like tobacco juice. This is a partial list!!

I have lost some stuff as a houseparent, but on the other hand I know several normal families where birth children have destroyed tons of stuff, so I don’t think it is totally unique to just being a houseparent. I think about some of the stuff I destroyed as a kid, and can understand why I got some of the whoopins I got from my parents.

This is not directed to anyone in particular, but if God calls you to be a houseparent – He is calling all of you including your stuff. If a few things get broken or stolen consider it joy that you were able to sacrifice it in service to the Lord and think about other Christians that were called to sacrifice all they owned and even their lives.

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bakergirl

Wow, launchpad, you got me there. Frankly, I’m not worried about OUR stuff. For one thing, we will still have our house in another town where we will leave some stuff and besides, stuff is replaceable. I was more worried about the money the agency would spend on the fishtank (its all budgeted) but really once I think about it, its nothing compared to the house they spent money on. This is all stuff I’m still processing. Reading through all of these, I remembered what my baby brother (he’s 18 now) did to my sister’s fish tank. He decided to add Desitin (baby rash ointment) to the tank. They died quickly so I doubt it was painful…

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