In this time filled with uncertainty, fear and disconnection, one ray of hope for many kids is their dog. Dogs wear many hats: best friend, confidant, a listening ear, protector, and a sense of constancy. And they bring hope as well.
I remember my childhood dog Clancy being there for me. When things weren’t great in my house, I’d get on my bike and ride to some nearby woods and walk the trails with him at my side. If none of my friends were outside to play with, I’d play with him. I was devastated when my parents gave him up to another family when I went off to college because they couldn’t take care of him. There have been very few times in my life when I didn’t own a dog. In these turbulent times, pets can make all the difference in the world for kids.
Kids confide in their pets
There are far too many kids and teens who feel like there is no one there for them. They may have distracted or absent parents or have friends they don’t trust with their secrets. These days kids can sense when their parents are stressed out by worries about covid, finances, and the future. They may feel they can’t share their own worries and hurts because their parents already have more than enough on their plates. Fortunately, many of them do have a pet they can confide in. Kids often turn to their dogs to share their hurts and frustrations and fears because dogs listen and don’t judge and love them unconditionally. Look how calm and happy the 2 campers look in the photo with my Comfort Retriever Buddy. A loving pet like Buddy can give kids hope that they can be seen, heard, understood, and loved.
Dogs can provide kids hope
I am so grateful that Buddy can sit on the couch with girls in my counseling practice, and in circles with girls at my weekend retreats, summer camps, and in schools. He is beloved by all who meet him. He is for sure a beacon of love and hope for so many.
For some practical tips on how to support girls when they are stressed or anxious, read Dr. Jordan’s book Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women: Guiding the Transformation of Adolescent Girls