The unconditional love of a pet

During the term break my beloved dog, Barkley, passed away. He was certainly a mature gent with a full white muzzle and greying paws but his passing was unexpected and very sad. Barkley was so much more than a dog: he was the best counsellor, personal trainer, conversation starter and friend that I could have ever asked for. He was the first dog that I purchased and owned from a puppy in my adult years. My family had dogs all through my childhood, but he was mine and my responsibility. Many families grapple with the idea of a family pet as it does add a new layer of complexity to already busy home lives, but they also provide a raft of learning opportunities for children and young people. For some young people, it can also provide some context or appreciation for what their parents do for them when they are responsible for another life.

Having responsibility for the feeding, walking, bathing and entertainment of a living creature provides an opportunity for growth and development for the child as much as the animal. A pet listens when a young person may feel like no one else in the whole world understands them and consoles them through tears. They also share excitement like no human can! While the responsibility of owning a pet provides wonderful growth for young people, so too does the responsibility the young person has for themselves and their emotional expression. Pets do not talk back, and by talking out loud to them young people may verbally address the matters they are concerned about and find a way through it or perhaps gather their thoughts in a succinct way to talk with you or a counsellor about. We have all heard of the medical studies that show that just by stroking a pet it can reduce blood pressure, so it’s a wonderful stress reliever too.

I love to hear the stories of our CGGS community pets or meeting them on the sports sidelines and will continue to enjoy hearing from our students about their furry (or perhaps scaly) friend(s). Whether a dog, cat, bird, fish, frog, guinea pig, horse, snake or spider, these pets are part of the family and we are fortunate to know them.

I wish every student a wonderful Term 3 (and new semester). Welcome to new students and families joining us at CGGS this term. I encourage all students to take this time to set new goals for the term that include social and developmental aspects as well as academic, and be able to congratulate yourselves at the end of the term for achieving them. Please stay healthy and safe, and we appreciate your refresh of the COVID protocols associated with our School.

Ms Julie Jorritsma
Acting Principal