On the third Saturday of each month, Boston Children’s Museum celebrates “Critter Day” when we have special live animal presentations delivered by local organizations. Most of these presenters bring wild or exotic animals – we’ve been visited by a variety of creatures over the years, including snakes, owls, bats, alligators, armadillos, tarantulas, ferrets and lots more. But Critter Day is also an opportunity to meet more familiar animals, including ones you may be considering bringing into your home.
The benefits of owning a pet are well known. Children who have pets develop a better sense of responsibility and nurturing, which is especially helpful for boys, whose traditional play does not always have many opportunities for practicing caregiving. Kids with pets often have better relationships with their siblings, and they also may have better self-esteem and social skills and general. Counter-intuitively, children who have pets at a young age are actually at a lower risk for developing allergies. Pets aren’t just good for kids either. People who own pets get outside more and exercise more. Pets can help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression; in fact, petting a dog has been proved to actually lower your blood pressure. But knowing what’s the right pet for your family is a big decision, and Critter Day is a program that can help you get the right information.
In May, Boston Children’s Museum welcomes the House Rabbit Network on Saturday May 17 from 1:00-4:00. Rabbits are becoming a more popular choice as an animal to share your home with, but many people don’t know exactly what to expect from them, so many rabbits wind up in shelters. The folks from House Rabbit Network will be here, along with some furry friends, to talk with families about proper rabbit care, adoption, and what life will be like with a rabbit in it. And even if you’re not thinking of keeping a rabbit, Critter Day is always a great time for your child to have a positive interaction with animals.
On Saturday June 21 from 11:00-2:00, we are excited for our annual visit from Dog BONES therapy dog teams. These dogs regularly visit hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms and any place where people could use a friendly paw. Therapy dogs even visited Museum staff when we were under construction in 2007 – we had no offices and were crammed into conference rooms, working in very close quarters and under pressure, and the dogs offered a break to all of us. If your child has a fear of dogs or has never met a dog, this is the perfect opportunity to come and have a completely non-threatening experience. Therapy dogs have been shown to be helpful to children who have autism or are extremely shy or have other social development issues. Dogs can even help kids learn to read! This is a wonderful opportunity for your child to meet all kinds of dogs who are just waiting for someone to come along and pet them, and a chance for you to learn about a resource you may have never even considered.