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Like most kids, my children want their own pets. And, like most parents, I’m not keen on adding any more live creatures to our household.
When the conversation comes up every couple of months, I patiently point out that we already have a dog, a cat and a bird. They stubbornly insist they want their own pets and they emphatically promise to take care of their pets all by themselves.
I know they’re too young to care for their own pets and that the care and feeding of any pet I might let them have would ultimately fall on me. But I’m a lifelong animal lover and I want to instill that love and responsibility in my kids, so I’ve looked for toy pets that will give them the opportunity to learn about caring for their own pets — without all the work for me.
Here are some that I like:
Scruff A Luvs
As a shelter dog owner, Scruff a Luvs ($32.81 on Amazon) are my favorite of the current crop of toy pets. They arrive as scruffy creatures in need of a lot of TLC to clean them up and reveal their true identities. They have to be bathed, dried and brushed until they have been rehabilitated to reveal their species: dog, cat or rabbit. They don’t look perfect even after they’re cleaned up, which makes them all the more endearing.
While Scruff a Luvs are not interactive (and they don’t require batteries!) like other toy pets on the market, I love the idea of teaching children to care for the less-than-perfect animals who still need love and a good home.
We went through a Hatchimals craze in my house last year and it shows no signs of slowing down. Hatchimals ($53.35 on Amazon) hatch from their eggs after you bring them home, so it’s a surprise to see what your Hatchimal will look like.
Watching them hatch is exciting, but it’s also fascinating to watch my kids teach their Hatchimals to talk, walk and learn knew things. You’ll find a variety of Hatchimal styles available — including twins!
Pomsies ($14.82 on Amazon), with their soft fur and wraparound tails, may be the cutest interactive pet on the market right now. These adorable fluff-balls come in different color combinations of pink, purple and white. Their eyes sparkle and light up and they make over 50 sounds to let you know when they’re tired, cold or hungry. Pomsies are the perfect teachable pet for kids who aren’t quite ready for the responsibilities of a real cat.
What kid (or “Game of Thrones” fan!) doesn’t want a pet dragon? Out of Hasbro’s line of FurReal Friends, I like Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon ($74.50 on Amazon) the best. He has over 50 sound and motion combinations and comes with his own color-changing treat (a marshmallow on a twig!).
In order to get him to breathe “fire,” you have to add water to his tank so he can breathe flame-colored mist. He may not teach my kids how to care for a puppy or kitten, but he’s an exotic baby in need of nurturing — which is enough to get young kids started on the path to pet ownership.