You Know I'm Right: Pets make the perfect Christmas presents for kids

One of the greatest Christmas gifts you can purchase for your children is a pet. Dogs and cats are particularly popular and will make Christmas morning special, especially if you can stuff them into a Christmas stocking. My father was an animal lover; my mom was not. But Dad was always bringing home pets. We had a golden lab named Spike, a cat named Minerva, and a variety of other critters, some in need of first aid. He once nursed a pigeon with a broken wing back to flyable condition. One of my favorite memories of my mother is her with a baby alligator on her lap trying to feed it raw liver. Neither my mother nor the alligator was particularly happy. Said alligator soon died of either starvation or raw liver poisoning. The pet raccoon my dad rescued from a vicious neighbor kid who had killed its mother, was bottle fed until it could eat dog food. (It also would eat an ice cream cone by holding it between its paws.) Rory Raccoon (named after a famous movie actor Rory Calhoon, already a has been by then) lasted for a year or two until he bit me quite badly and had to be euthanized.

When I had children of my own, Dad pointed out that every child should have a dog. My loving wife of some forty years (MLWOS40yrs) readily agreed as she had grown up with a variety of dogs and cats. Our first dog, Dessie, is remembered by our family as slightly psychotic although I prefer to think of her as "spirited." She was extremely adept at grabbing food which is why we still tend to put food dishes in the very center of the table out of habit. When Dessie passed and the kids had moved on, we decided to remain pet-less. However, the girls were worried about my mental health. I returned from a work trip to find the little white training flags indicating a new resident getting used to the underground fence. Blackie turned out to be a wonderful dog. Unlike the rest of my family, she was a great listener and was always greatly interested in what I had to say. Since MLWOS40yrs was stationed in Virginia at the time, we were assigned a home there. Blackie and I made many trips together from Ohio and never once did she demand that we stop at a Starbucks. Sadly, she also went to doggie heaven, and we have remained dog-less since.

It is all well and good for me to tell you to get your kids a dog for Christmas but be warned. You will be the dog’s caregiver. Kids all say that if they only had a dog, they would do all the potty training and daily walks, as well as watering and feeding. They won’t. Not just my kids, but your kids and everyone’s kids. I am sure there are exceptions but that is a very good general rule. And taking care of a dog is a chore, especially doing the poop scoot boogie. So take note.

The perfect pets for your children or hard to please relatives, it turns out, are Sea-Monkeys! Last year my daughters thoughtfully sent me a Sea-Monkey kit for my birthday. It came with a glass bowl the size of a pickleball and freeze-dried brine shrimp eggs. I just added water and a couple of days later I had these little critters swimming around. The bowl is totally self-sustaining and requires absolutely no maintenance. Sadly, while they are a boon to my mental health, TSA won’t allow me to take them on a plane with me. You know I’m right.

Don R. Haven is a retired Naval Officer and retired high school teacher, who splits time between Granville and South Carolina. He can be reached at 740-504-8793 and

This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: You Know I'm Right: Pets make the perfect Christmas presents for kids