We got our first dog when I was 4, a Rottweiler we named Gamble because he got sick right before were were able to bring him home & almost died. Thankfully when we were able to bring him home he was happy and healthy and lived a long life for a large dog. He did everything with us, and we did everything with him. We dressed him up in bathing suits in the summer, and sweaters in the winter. We played tug-o-war with him, he always won even though it was 3 on 1. He pulled us around on our sleigh in the winter. Whatever we ate he ate, where ever we slept he slept.
He was my best friend, and I think I can say the same for my brother & cousin who grew up with us. He was a gentle giant, always protecting and looking out for us. He protected us so well that we couldn't get in trouble in front of him, if anyone raised their voice or got too rough with the rough housing near any one of "his" kids Gamble would jump in the middle and put himself between them and us.
Gamble was my first pet, my first of many chores-though I was so young I couldn't do much. I remember helping feed him, making sure he had water, and helping to give him a bath. Those little things I remember doing with him and for him as a child, a young child built up so I was ready for my next pet, and the pet after that leading into my current fur-children/pets. I couldn't imagine a childhood without my dogs, starting with Gamble. Having him taught me to be gentle, firm yet kind and gave me a sense of responsibility at a young age.
I see my friends children, young children learning the same things with their pets. A close friend's little one is under a year and LOVES their dog. She makes him smile and laugh, and is just as gentle with him as my Gamble was when I was a child. My pets are a part of the family just as much as any other family member & they play a vital role in my life. I hope everyone can have an experience with a pet of any kind like I did and still do with my dogs.