They dress them up in humiliating getups and sometimes forget to walk and feed them – still, when it comes to our kids’ best friends, pets are high on the list.

Timmy had Lassie, Charlie Brown had Snoopy, and Dorothy had Toto. The bond between kids and their pets is undeniably special. To a child, a pet can be a friend, a sidekick and a member of the family.

Our neighborhood is full of pint-sized neighbors who have big love for their creatures, and while we could have summed it up, we thought it best to let these kids tell you in their own words what makes their pets so special.

KIDS: TINA FLORES, 11; SAVANNAH FLORES, 8; BRINN FLORES, 5

SIDEKICKS: Scooby Doo the dog, a hamster named DJ (AKA Domino Junior), and three Leopard Geckos named Rex, Regina and Alpha

SWEET AND SWIFT: Brinn says he loves Scooby Doo because he’s a good snuggle-buddy. “His fur is soft, and he is cuddly and comfy.” But Savannah says Scooby Doo’s agility won her heart. “He’s very graceful when he jumps in the air. I love to see him run and jump.”

QUITE A MOUTHFUL: Tina says hamster DJ loves sunflower seeds, maybe even a bit too much. “She will stuff her cheeks full of sunflower seeds until they hang down to her rib cage.”

LOW MAINTENANCE: The geckos, Tina says, are perfect for the person who wants a no-fuss pet. “They are quiet, very clean, and they don’t bite. They don’t even have teeth.”

REX AND REGINA – A LOVE STORY: “I got a male and female lizard so they mated. But only one egg hatched, so we named that one Alpha because it was their first baby.”

KID: JAMIE SAMOURIS, 11

SIDEKICKS: Two birds: Teenie, a yellow-sided conure, and Tommy, a Patagonia conure

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Jamie says both of her birds are very attached – from the moment she gets home, she and her pets are inseparable. “I spend a lot of time with both of them,” she says. “Teenie was my first bird, so we have a special bond. And Tommy sees me as his mama, and he’s a big mama’s boy. He gives me kisses, and he talks to me.”

BIRD BRAIN: Both parrots, she says, are exceptionally smart, which makes them a joy to own. “I love having birds because they are so smart, and they show a lot of emotion,” she says. “They are like little humans with wings.”

FLOCK IN THE MAKING: Jamie says she loves birds so much that she intends to add more to her mini-flock. “I’m going to get a Lovebird for my birthday. And I’m working on another bird for Christmas, too.”

TALK ABOUT ZOO: The Samouris family also has four parrots named Daisy, Zeus, Mango and Holly; three dogs named P.D., Tipper and Murphy; and nine cats [some are Hurricane Katrina evacuees] named Charlie, Callie, Peek-a-boo, Midnight, Peanut, Bubbles, Snowball, Missy and Little One.

NAME: SABRINA SCHRIEFER, 9

SIDEKICKS: Two cats, Sunny and Tiger

YING-YANG: Sabrina says her cats have contrasting personalities. Ironically, “Tiger is shy and gentle and doesn’t bite,” she says. “But Sunny is kind of ferocious, and she thinks this is her house.”

GOOD FOR NOW: While she loves owning cats, she hasn’t sworn off other pets just yet. “I like how both my cats are so energetic, and their fur is nice. But when I get older, I might want a dog.”

PET ORIGINS: “One of my mom’s friends gave us Sunny because she could not keep her. And Tiger is 15, so my mom had him before I was born.”


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