A boy and his dog, at least in America, is a symbol of friendship and of healthy psychological development. People sometimes say that giving children pets to love helps children develop universal love. But we can easily see that it doesn't work. Children love their dogs, cats, hamsters, and lizards, yes, but they eat cows, pigs, fish, sheep, and chickens. Some children on farms even learn to arrange for the slaughter of animals they pampered as pets.
Both pampering and slaughtering stem from a desire to please one-self, or, more accurately, from a desire to please to senses and mind with which one falsely identifies. So teaching a child to love a pet because the pet is cute or loyal or cuddly simply binds the child to valuing bodily pleasure instead of spiritual pleasure.
Finally we need to train our children in specific guidelines about animals. Carnivorous animal such as dogs and cats should never be allowed in a house. While a carnivorous animal freely living outside can catch and eat other animals without sin, if we buy pet food made from meat, fish, or eggs we contribute to the slaughter of innocent creatures.
Let us teach our children to show spiritually equal vision by giving all creatures the opportunity to engage in Krishna's service. Let us not allow our children to develop material attachments for an animal body.
Urmila Devi Dasi