Dr Seuss’ What Pet Should I Get, a philosophical story on choosing a pet and the importance of developing decision-taking skills

Dr Seuss, What Pet Should I Get

Published 2015 by Random House Children’s Books, 48p


I am not surprised that Theodore Geisel, worldwide known as Dr Seuss, is one of the most beloved children’s books authors. His stories are humorous yet very educational and his illustrations are extremely original. Dr Seuss wrote an impressive collection of childhood chronicles.

Although the author had many dogs during his lifetime, it was a cat that inspired him and made his career successful overnight – The Cat in the Hat.  But Dr Seuss was an animal lover and his books are filled with creatures of all kinds, real or invented. What Pet Should I Get was posthumously published in 2015 (the writer died in 1991) after the manuscript had been discovered in a box by Geisel’s wife together with his longtime secretary.

A brother and a sister visit a Pet shop to choose an animal; the story becomes a significant philosophical lesson on the importance of choice. The children can take home only one pet so they need to make up their mind.

make up your mind

Then I looked at Kay.

I said ‘What will we do?

I like all the pets that I see.

So do you.’


Oscillating between cats, dogs, rabbits, fish, monkeys, birds and YENTS the children experience a stressful situation; more than enjoying the parade of possible pets there is the pressure that they can have only one animal. Often children do not consider long term decisions but their immediate passions so Dr Seuss highlights the importance of children developing decision-taking skills.

Despite the fact it was written more than fifty years ago, the story is still contemporary by content and advice. Choosing a companion implies responsibilities; the way we relate to pets has changed in the last years but still there are things to consider, as the book publisher has pointed in the notes at the end of the book:

Pets are life-changing. They greet us like heroes when we walk in the door, comfort us when we are sad, and love us unconditionally. Dogs and cats are the most popular pets in the United States, but these wonderful, vulnerable animals can easily live for over a decade and are dependent on us for their needs. So committing to caring for a pet as a cherished, not captive, companion is a big decision.

Choosing where to get your pet is also very important. When Dr. Seuss wrote What Pet Should I Get? over fifty years ago, it was common for people to simply buy dogs, cats, and other animals at pet stores. Today animal advocates encourage us to adopt them from a shelter or rescue organization and warn us never to purchase pets from places that are supplied by puppy mills. We wholeheartedly agree and completely support this recommendation. Choosing to adopt can help save the life of an animal that may not otherwise get a second chance at finding a forever home.

The ending of the book is unexpected but really intelligent. The two brothers made up their mind but we cannot see the animal they have chosen. It is the act of deciding that is essential to understand and the importance of avoiding the waiting.



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