If there’s a regular question Mrs Adams and I frequently face from our kids, it’s whether we can have more pets. We’ve given this matter serious consideration. Presently, we have the one cat and we would be open to expanding our family to include a small pet or two once we’ve decided on an appropriate animal that would suit our lifestyle and where we live.
Owning a pet is a serious responsibility and so we wouldn’t want to take on some fish a rabbit or gerbil without doing our homework first. As luck would have it, Pets At Home has launched its My Pet Pals Summer Challenge, the aim of which is to keep kids active and to give them a chance to learn about common domestic pets.
My Pet Pals Workshop
As part of the My Pet Pals Summer Challenge, families are encouraged to attend one of the free My Pet Pals workshops. These hour-long workshops are led by Pets At Home staff and take place in store.
They cover a range of subjects and animals including guinea pigs, rabbits and summer wildlife. If there’s something Mrs Adams and I have agreed on, it’s that a dog or another cat would not suit our lifestyle and so we went to a workshop focused on aquatics and fish.
The workshop leader was Ashley. His enthusiasm for animals shone through and he was very knowledgable. He taught us about the difference between warm and cold water fish. Ashley also explained how you maintain a tank and keep it in good condition so your fish remain healthy.
The session was well worth going to. I learned that fish require more care than I realised. I think they’d make for an ideal pet for my family’s busy lifestyle, but I think we need to wait until we have a little more spare cash so we can get the proper equipment.
My Pet Pals Activity Booklet
If you attend a workshop, you will receive an activity booklet. There are 10 to complete and they’re great fun to work through, especially during the summer holidays.
We’ve been working through them one by one. Here’s how we’ve been getting on.
Finding a hamster home and holding a bug in your hand
Immediately after the My Pet Pals workshop, we were supposed to look around the store for the perfect hamster home. I confess that we bent the rules.
With the fish workshop still on our mind, Helen was more interested in looking for the perfect fish home. We instead spent some time doing this and also looking for the perfect home for our cat, Poppy.
As for holding a bug in your hand, Izzy is fearless. She went for a bug hunt in our garden and very soon came back having made friends with some wood lice.
Complete the gerbil maze and pretending to be a small furry animal
The gerbil maze proved very popular with Izzy. She loves this kind of problem solving task and it certainly helped kill a little time on a long train journey back from Glasgow.
When it came to the furry animal impression, we tried this on a visit to the park. Alas, my kids wanted to be sea monsters so it fell on my broad shoulders to pretend to be a squirrel.
Making a pebble pal and going on a nature noises walk
Both our kids are keen on geology. When we visit the Natural History Museum in London we always have to visit the geology section. I’m not too sure what it is about rocks and stones my kids love, but love them they do.
Combining her creative side with her love of geology, Helen made herself a pebble pal called Jeffrey. I have no idea where the name came from, but I can tell you he’s a lovely chap.
As for the nature noises walk, we went out on a new route and listened out for the crickets. Following the recent hot spell, there were definitely more of them than in previous summers. It led to a detailed discussion between Izzy and I about the difference between crickets and grasshoppers.
Doing 20 bunny hops and feeding birds
Bunny hops are nothing new for Helen and Izzy. They have to do them at almost every one of their gymnastics classes so this task was completed a few days later when they went to their next class.
When it comes to feeding the birds, we’ve tried, but not had a huge amount of luck so far. We’ve not long moved to our house and while we’ve tried to attract birds to our garden, they haven’t yet discovered the food we’ve left out for them.
We have, however, previously fed the birds at Granny’s house. Her garden plays host to all manner of birds including peasants, wood pigeons, robins and blue tits. We’ll be visiting later in the holidays so we’ll see what we can achieve when we visit.
And finally, go on a litter patrol
Over recent weeks, I’ve become very conscious of the amount of plastic we use as a family. I’ve been trying, with some success, to educate Helen and Izzy and get them to realise that we must reduce our reliance on plastic and when we do use it, that it should be recycled.
They’ve become very aware of plastic litter and comment on it whenever they see discarded rubbish on the ground. We haven’t so much been on one litter patrol but if they’ve seen plastic on the floor, I’ve got them to tell me and I’ve picked it up and placed it in a bin (unsure I want the kids handling litter, I’ve taken on the responsibility of picking it up).
A fun challenge and we’ve learned a lot
I had no real expectations when I embarked on this challenge. It seemed like a fun way to entertain the children during the summer holidays.
By attending the workshop, we’ve all learned a lot both about fish and how to care for them. It was a very informative session and will help us make an informed choice should we get some fish in future. If you’re thinking of getting some fish or another family pet, you may find the workshops useful.
As for the activities, they were straightforward and weren’t hugely taxing. They also helped me strengthen certain important messages such as reducing plastic use and responsible pet ownership.
Information about the My Pet Pals Summer Challenge can be found online. You’ll also find Pets at Home on Twitter at @PetsatHome and on Instagram at @PetsatHomeUK where you can follow the #MyPetPals hashtag.
Disclosure: This commissioned article was produced in association with Pets at Home.