Ask Jack: The Benefits of Pets to Children, What About Letterman?

By Beacon Staff

Welcome to week two of Ask Jack, where I’ll be answering your questions about anything and everything having to do with wildlife, conservation, traveling, hiking and our great state of Montana. Enjoy this week’s discussions, and don’t forget to send your questions to [email protected]!

My kids and I are trying to convince my husband to get a dog. What are the benefits of raising kids with pets? I need your help to persuade him!

I’ve always been a strong supporter of children having pets at a young age because it teaches two things: love and responsibility. I grew up on a farm surrounded by donkeys, cows, goats, ducks – you name it! To this day, I treasure the time I spent playing with our family collies, Lance and Vandy. These animals made a profound impact on my life and I still have the good fortune of working with animals today. My wife and I made sure our three daughters were raised around animals, and now that my kids are grown, they’ve realized how important that was and are raising their children with pets, too.

A household pet, especially a dog, will give unconditional love. There’s a real bond there, and that dog will become a part of your family. When I do speeches in prisons, I ask the prisoners, “How many of you had a pet at home?” Out of 100 people, only about 10 raise their hands. Maybe if these folks may not have been there if they’d had the opportunity to take care of and love a pet.

At the same time, don’t forget that a pet is a big responsibility. Once you have a dog or a cat, that animal will be with you its entire life. It’s not a toy that you can play with and care for one day and then forget about in a week.

In Kalispell there’s a wonderful no-kill animal shelter called the Charlotte Edkins Animal Adoption Center. If you don’t have a household pet, I’d recommend you go there – they have beautiful animals that need a loving home. In fact, this month, they are offering reduced adoption rates on adult cats and dogs. You can find information on the adoption center at www.hsnwmt.com. Your husband and kids are bound to find a friend!

Are you nervous before your Letterman appearances?

Whenever I go on television, my priority, of course, is making sure the animals are taken care of properly. The animals are the first obligation, and I have to be aware of the challenges that always come up on a TV show. The Late Show with David Letterman is probably the most difficult because of the loud music and the laughter coming from the audience.

I’ve been doing television for 30 years, and I wouldn’t really say I get nervous. It’s more of an excitement for me. It’s a challenge, too, because people watch the show to laugh and have fun, so I have to teach conservation in a fun way. It takes a lot of quick answers, because David Letterman has the quickest wit of anyone I know, and he’s always playfully saying wrong information about the animals. Plus, I only have six minutes up there, so I have to make the most of it.

Remember to send me your questions at [email protected]. See you next time!

Read Jack’s previous column: Jack Hanna Launches New Weekly Column.

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