Growing up, my parents always told me that it was a grave sin that violates the commandments to keep an animal waiting for its meals because animals don’t understand time and that we should always tend to our animals before we tend to ourselves. In my life, that translates into checking the cat’s dish and walking and feeding the dog before I’ve had coffee.
I’ve been working hard to instill this sense of responsibility in my own children. It has been hard. After a year, my seven year old still needs reminding to feed the cat in the mornings despite having to walk by her bowl on the way down the stairs. Almost two weeks ago, we adopted a puppy. I’ve been talking to my daughter about how if she wakes up first she needs to take the dog out and feed her breakfast. This morning, I was horrified when I got downstairs to discover both animals bowls empty, the dog shredding the pee pads, and my daughter completely oblivious before Mine Craft. Luckily, she had taken the dog for a walk before settling in to her game, but I’m at a loss on how to proceed.
What I’ve arrived at is changing the password on the computer so she can’t get on it without an adult. She also had to run up and feed the cat and clean up the mess the puppy made. How can I teach her to prioritize the animals?