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Parent of 9 year old wants to test child's level of responsibility (Ottawa)

August 21st, 2008, 09:06 AM
Dear members,

A friend of mine asked me the following question by email and i partially answered it. But I felt that they could get even more valuable information if I posted here since you guys and gals are the experts...
many thanks as always! :highfive:

Here goes:
I have a pet question for you. Our 9-year old girl has been craving a pet (dog, preferably) daily, passionately for the last 5 years. We're looking for an opportunity for her to work with pets of some sort on a regular basis (volunteer) to test out her committment. We've asked at humane society, service dog, seeing eye dog, local pet shops etc but so far, liability prevents her from helping out. Even giving dogs water, preparing their food, cleaning would make her very happy.

Do you know of Ottawa based opportunities that might be a fit? Dog clubs that meet regularly with their pets, say? Camps? Meetups?

Or where else we might ask?

August 21st, 2008, 09:16 AM
Just a thought. Do they have any friends who have pets that she can "sit" for a week or so? Preferably longer? Go in once or twice a day and take the dog for a walk, scoop poop, bath, brush, all of the things a responsible pet owner would have to do. If it's for a month that would be perfect. The first week would be fun, the second on not too much, the third and fourth would be killers if she isn't commited.
Also, she can't volunteer at these places because of liability laws but can one of her parents volunteer and she can go with them? Just a thought. :shrug:

August 21st, 2008, 09:30 AM
along the same lines as 14+ mentioned, what about elderly people's pets, they can't alway get them out to walk them or poop and scoop. And i'm sure the seniors would love her assistance.

August 21st, 2008, 11:37 AM
Maybe she is a future vet? She is too young to volunteer at a rescue, but maybe she could do it with her mother or father. Perhaps on a weekly basis. You will be bringing out the best in her and teach her that volunteer work gives special rewards. What a special child she is.

August 21st, 2008, 12:34 PM
What about the 4H club?
I know when we were younger we were members, and were given a calf in the spring to show for a local farmer, we had to look after feed and wash and show the animal at the local fair in the fall (it was all at the farmers place) so you don't have to take it home.
It's a great club and a great way to work with animals without owning one.

Gail P
August 21st, 2008, 03:04 PM
4H is a good suggestion. Another thing that I just found out about is safari zoo camp at Jungle Cat World in Orono.
I know it's not really close to Ottawa, but it's a week-long residential camp where the kids get to do all kind of interesting sounding things and help out with the animal care. I'm thinking I might sign up my own daughter for a week next summer. She's 9 this summer. I just heard about this camp so I've missed the boat for this summer, but maybe next year.

Another thought might be to try helping out at a sled dog kennel. They've got lots of dogs so there would be lots of feeding and watering to do, and scooping. Doing daily pickup for a yard of 40 or 50 dogs might test what she's made of and how badly she really wants her own dog. :laughing: Of course, if that doesn't turn her off she will become addicted to mushing and won't just be asking for one dog anymore :D Several kennels offer mentoring programs, here is a link to a list of mentors, one of which is located in Ottawa

I think that also lists races and clubs around the Ottawa area, which may provide some volunteer opportunities.

Also, what about her becoming involved in some dog sports clubs? They could probably use volunteer help when they run events and some offer junior classes that she could maybe try once she gets to know people and could borrow a dog. Many people are happy to help get youngsters involved in the sports. Disc clubs offer junior handler classes and many dogsled races have kid & mutt classes and/or youth classes. I know that there is a disc dog club called Airborne Disc Dog Club of Ottawa

There are probably also agility, flyball clubs etc. In fact, one of the disc judges I know of from the Ottawa area has border collies that I believe are involved in several dog sports. She may be a good person to contact to find out more. Here's the link to her site

Oh, there may be liability issues with the humane society, but what about private rescues? That might be another thought. There are lots of breed specific rescues and all-breed rescues too. There are many listed on, somewhere on the site there is link to a list of rescues and shelters which can be searched out by city or area code.

One other thing to be sure your friend is aware of too, is that even if the child appears to be responsible and ready for a pet, the newness may wear off or the child's interests may change, especially once those teen years arrive. Even though the intent would be for the pet to be the child's responsibility the parents should also be fully committed to ensuring a new pet has a caring forever home, that they will be willing to become the primary caregivers of the pet if the child ultimately can't or won't.

August 21st, 2008, 03:19 PM
oh oh my oldest nephew did the jungle cat world program, it's excellent, you pretty much take on all of the activities the adults would, feeding, cleaning the cages, etc. he just loved it.

Gail P
August 21st, 2008, 03:24 PM
oh oh my oldest nephew did the jungle cat world program, it's excellent, you pretty much take on all of the activities the adults would, feeding, cleaning the cages, etc. he just loved it.

Good to know, thanks! :thumbs up I'm sure my daughter would enjoy it so much she'd like to spend the summer there if I could afford to send her for that long! She thinks she'd like to be a vet or do something to do with animal conservation when she grows up and she has a special affinity for the big cats. She also says she'd like to go on safari in Africa.

August 22nd, 2008, 09:29 AM
I think something along the lines of what some of the others have suggested would be a good idea. At the Vancouver SPCA shelter, younger members can "volunteer" if accompanied by a parent or guardian. They even get their own ID cards. But instead of saying "dog walker" it says "assistant dog walker".

Working at a shelter I think would be a good way to introduce a child to dogs and a great way to gauge whether she is responsible enough for her own dog. Try to get her to do it for a few months at least. Also the great thing about shelters is that you will have the opportunity to see many different types of dogs.

August 22nd, 2008, 09:33 AM
Thanks so much for the posts everyone - I knew you guyn n' gals would have amazing advice :highfive:


August 26th, 2008, 12:40 PM
sorry, i haven't a clue where she can do anything like that, seeing as i live in west of ireland:rolleyes:!!!!! but i think its a fab idea. In september i am helping out at a vets practice every saturday (but i'm getting a dog before then anyway) i still think its a really gr8 idea. :thumbs up