Area parents weigh in on mixing pets with kidsShe can’t prove it, but Krystol Wheeler of Grand Forks thinks the asthma that plagued her 9-year-old son has been eased in recent years by his exposure to pets in the home, she said.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
She can’t prove it, but Krystol Wheeler of Grand Forks thinks the asthma that plagued her 9-year-old son has been eased in recent years by his exposure to pets in the home, she said.
“In almost two years, since we’ve gotten the dog, he hasn’t had any flare-ups.”
Before that, the family lived in an apartment where pets were not allowed.
She credits her dogs, at least in part, for the good health of her three children who are being raised alongside a cockapoo and a Great Dane puppy, a recent addition to the household.
Wheeler said her experience confirms the evidence of recent research that shows children raised in homes with pets develop stronger immune responses than those raised without pets.
Her 5-month-old son, Myles, plays on the floor with both dogs, she said. “He’s had no health issues. He’s actually further along developmentally than he should be.”
The infant is doing “just fine,” except for when “our clumsy, 2-month-old Dane will occasionally sit on him.”
Wheeler’s strong belief in raising children with animals is founded on childhood evidence, she said.
She grew up in a canyon, near the base of a mountain in New Mexico, where wildlife was abundant, she said. Her mother believed it was healthy for kids to be raised with animals.
She and her four siblings were around “tons of animals all the time,” she said. “There was never a time when we had less than two dogs, a bunch of cats, birds, chickens. Our pets slept in beds with us.
“Not one of us ever had any allergies, no big (health) issues.”
Tara Dalgliesh of Valley City, N.D., and formerly of Grand Forks, is raising 16-month-old Reese with two indoor cats.
Reese, who attends a daycare with a kid-friendly terrier, has had no major health concerns and needed no medications, she said. The baby shows no health consequences from exposure to dogs, cats or her aunt’s rabbit.
Dalgliesh said she thinks having pets helps build a child’s immunity.
“I always had pets, growing up. We had cats since I was in the fourth grade,” she said.
“I always thought it was a good thing to have animals in the home.”
Jennifer and Trevis Ekberg’s only child, Corbin, has lived all of his 15 months in the company of two “puggles” — a cross between a beagle and a pug — in Grand Forks
Jennifer’s only concern while she was pregnant was that the baby could be allergic to them, she said. “That was my biggest fear.”
Since mid-May, Corbin has been going to a private, in-home daycare which has a cat, and has had no adverse reaction, she said.
But Corbin does get a special reaction from the puggles at times, she said. When he cries, one of the dogs licks the top of his head, magically, the baby stops crying.
“It’s like having another babysitter.”
Corbin has had no health issues, she said. “He’s a healthy baby.”
Nick and Victoria Holter’s 4-month-old son, Nickolas, is also growing up healthy and happy alongside the family’s two yellow Labrador retrievers.
Even though the East Grand Forks couple was nervous about the dogs being puppies when their baby was born, it turns out the dogs are “absolutely wonderful around him,” said Nick.
Victoria said when she was pregnant, she didn’t receive warnings about pets in the home, but she and her husband listened to advice of friends.
So, when Nickolas was born, Nick brought his receiving blanket home from the hospital, so the dogs would learn the baby’s scent and prepare them for the newcomer’s arrival.
Wheeler points to roots of American society when people were in constant contact with animals.
“It’s our own life agenda that has moved us away from that,” she said. “We were more one with them (animals) then.”
People should remember, she said, “our longest-standing friend is the dog.”