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To develop a caring and responsible attitude towards others, especially our pets

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To develop a caring and responsible attitude towards others, especially our pets.

Preparation and materials

  • Display a few large pictures of young animals.
  • If you have a pet of your own, bring in some items belonging to it.
  • The children could be asked to identify the items, and you could turn this into a guessing game, revealing one item at a time, perhaps from a range of pets.


  1. Children usually respond well to pictures of animals. Use their responses to discuss why these animals give them so much pleasure.

    Many of them will have pets at home. Ask them about being excited on the day their new pets arrived at their house. Talk about the pleasure they had playing with them and laughing at their antics.

    Remind them of the promises they may have made to their parents, that they would help to look after the new animals by feeding, grooming and exercising them.

  2. Continue by pointing out some of the problems that can arise. Remind them that puppies and kittens grow up, and then they may not want to play in the same way. And walking the dog on a rainy day can become quite a chore. Children often make excuses when it comes to cleaning out the rabbit or the guinea pig, so a parent is left with the job. Sadly, animals, like people, grow old. When their pets cannot play or become ill, will they still care for them then?

  3. Tell the children that you are reminded of a story you once heard. Read or retell in your own words the following:

    There was once a rich King who had a beautiful black horse. He was very proud of it. Everyone admired the animal and many wished they too could own such a fine creature.

    The King was very popular and well liked by the people in his kingdom. He had vowed that everyone in the land should be well looked after. He made sure of this by placing a wooden arch in the market place, from which hung a rope connected to a large metal bell. He told the people that if ever they were in trouble or suffered from any injustice they must ring the bell for all to hear.

    Many years went by, and everyone was happy. The horse bravely carried his master into battle. He strutted proudly, leading processions through the town. He galloped freely in the fields and was well looked after. But one day when the King mounted him, the horse staggered, his stride was uneven and he was obviously lame. The King then realized that his faithful steed was too old to carry him. The horse was turned out into a field by himself. No one bothered to look after him and he became totally neglected.

    The King bought another fine horse and did not give his faithful old servant a second thought. Winter came. The poor creature had no warm stable. Snow covered the ground. The old horse could not get enough to eat and he knew he would not survive much longer. With great difficulty, he forced his way out of his field and dragged his weary body to the market place. Taking the bell rope in his mouth, he managed to ring the bell a few times before collapsing to the ground.

    The chimes were enough to bring everyone rushing into the square, including the King himself. When he saw the poor animal he was thoroughly ashamed of himself. The weak and starving horse was helped up and taken to a warm stable where he was given food and a good grooming. The King vowed that the neglected creature should be well looked after until the end of his life. He erected a statue of the horse in the market place to remind everyone, including himself, that it is important to care for something always, and not just when it is young or shiny and new.

  4. You might like to invite further discussion here, or leave the story to speak for itself.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to close their eyes and to repeat each line of the prayer after you.

Dear God,
Please let us be kind and gentle to our animal friends.
Help us to look after them properly.
Give us patience and understanding when they get old.
Let us be thankful for all the fun we have with them,
and all the love they give to us.


'All creatures of our God and King' (Come and Praise, 7)

Publication date: 2004   (Vol.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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