There is something almost magical about the relationship between pets and teens. They seem to love one another unconditionally, and pets seem to bring out the best in teens.
When our teen came to my husband and I asking to add a dog to our family, we, like most other parents, initiated a long conversation about responsibility. The focus of the conversation was all the work, training and obligation having a dog would entail. Our teen promised that she would feed, water, bathe, clean up after and walk the dog. But we knew that bringing a dog into our home meant making the dog a part of the family and not just a huge chore.
It is wonderful to watch a relationship develop between a teenager and a dog. No matter how cranky and irritable a teen might feel, it is unlikely that a bad mood will carry over to the family dog. No matter how stressful or disappointing a day may be for a teen, watching her face relax as the dog greets her at the door, brings a huge sigh of relief and a big smile.
No matter how frustrated I might feel as a parent, after repeating myself for the 3rd or forth time and still being ignored- seeing my child curled up with her dog just pulls at my heartstrings. The dog seems to know when to tease her and make her get away from the computer and run around the yard. My daughter seems to know when the dog wants to rest or play or be brushed.
We never mentioned, during our initial conversation about getting a dog, that she would have to pay attention to the dog and love her. That just seems to have happened naturally. The dog has been a great addition to our family and our teen has definitely benefited from this relationship.