Story by Bella Wexler, Photos Courtesy of Melody Albright
It’s hard to find a kid who doesn’t care deeply about their pets. In the Hawkins’ house, Archer and Rowan prove that their love for animals isn’t even limited by how many they can count. When asked how many pets the Hawkins have, Rowan admitted that she couldn’t quite remember “because we have a lot of pets!”
She wasn’t kidding, either. Included among those she could remember are “three dogs, three cats, ten chickens, two quails, three lizards, seven snakes, and lots of invertebrates… and a frog!” Spiders and cockroaches are not unwelcome guests in the Hawkins’ house, either. In fact, they are just a few more of the family’s many beloved pets. “I love all the animals, even the spooky ones,” says Rowan. Although Rowan has affectionately declared that all of the pets are her favorites, her little brother Archer has his preferences. “My favorite is my mom’s cat, Quill,” he says. Quill has been known to take naps in Archer’s Lego boxes and chase the family’s smaller critters around the house.
The family dog, Moose, however, is known to spend more of his time chasing sprinklers. Rowan and Archer helped their family foster Moose, her brother, and her sister before they eventually decided to adopt her. Now, Moose loves playing in the dirt outside, rinsing off in the pool, and protecting Archer and Rowan from scary movies by barking at the TV. “It’s fun when we get to play with [our pets] because sometimes they’re just hilarious dorks,” Rowan says.
Of course, having so many pets certainly comes with some serious responsibilities. Both Rowan and Archer chip in to help care for their animals. Rowan feeds the dogs, Archer feeds the cats and helps with the chickens, and they both help walk the dogs together.
When Rowan and Archer aren’t playing with or caring for their pets, they are studying at Amphi Academy Online. This year, Rowan is in 3rd grade and Archer is in 1st grade. The online learning environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic this past year has affected their school experience in many ways. For one, they often find that taking classes at home means a few interruptions from their many pets. “When the frog croaks, the dogs flip out,” laughs Rowan. Despite the fact that these animals don’t always make the best lab partners, Rowan always finds ways to engage her animals in her education. She even likes to show off her rescued savannah monitor to teach her class about reptiles!
When class is over, Rowan and Archer continue their love for animals by playing Zoo Tycoon, Animal Crossing, and Pokémon video games. They also enjoy playing with their pets outside and jumping on their trampoline. When they grow up, Rowan aspires to be a scientist and a model. But this won’t stop her from keeping her family tradition alive; “I want to have a whole bunch of pets when I’m older. I want to foster them and everything!” Archer also hopes to have some pets to keep him company when he grows up, but “just a few.” This way, he can still fulfill his goal of traveling the world. These two young animal lovers’ dreams are as big as their hearts, and they all start with their great big family at home.
When asked what wisdom they’d like to impart on other kids who don’t know what it’s like to have the different pets they do, the Hawkins had some important messages to share. Rowan said she thinks more people should learn how to take care of different animals so that fewer end up being abandoned on the streets. Archer thinks people should be more open minded about the types of animals for which they care. “Animals make great pets… even cockroaches,” he says. “And I love ALL the spiders!” Rowan chimes in. At the end of the day, we can all learn a thing or two about compassion from Rowan and Archer Hawkins.