For those of you who have been asking yourself this question, I have some good tips and some things to keep in mind before making this BIG decision. The question really does require your careful consideration. Before committing to a new puppy or kitten, be sure that you are thinking of this as a long-term relationship. Your new bundle of joy may be adorable and fluffy, but this cute little addition to the household is also going to need to be housetrained, fed and groomed, and given adequate shelter and exercise. And even as you celebrate the end of your young pet’s teething stage, keep in mind that as older dogs and cats come with a few down sides as well. Many dogs and cats are surrendered to shelters every day because they are no longer cute little babies.
Despite these considerations, however, there is no disputing that a cat or dog can be a wonderful addition to your family. In fact, dogs and cats are the most common type of pet; families with a dog and/or cat represent the largest number of pet owners. In my searches, I found this awesome website at www.vetstreet.com. They have come up with a list of considerations and questions to ask to determine if you are ready for a pet. Whether concerns about barking, getting into the trash and ruining your slippers are heavy on your mind or you can’t wait to find a pet who will become your dedicated sidekick and companion, here are a few things to consider as you contemplate life with a dog:
· Do you have the time to train and socialize your pup?
o It is up to you to train your new friend on how to act around children and to socialize with other pets.
· Do you know which breed of dog fits your lifestyle?
o Are you active and need a dog that likes to run, or do you love to curl up and read a book with a lazy fur baby?
· Are you financially prepared to care for a dog?
o Not only do they require yearly vaccinations to remain healthy but dogs get sick just like us and sometimes need to visit the vet.
· Can you commit to owning a pet for the next decade or longer?
o It may not sound like a long time in our life span, but a decade is a great deal of time to dedicate.
· Is everyone in your household ready for a dog?
o As pet ownership is usually a shared responsibility, you should not commit to getting a dog unless your entire family is ready.
· Do you live someplace that allows dogs?
o We have all fallen in love with those big puppy eyes, but don’t forget to find out if you can own it before bringing it home. That would be sad for everyone!!
· Have you studied up on care and safety?
o Your dog depends on you to keep it safe and healthy.
Cats require their own special considerations. Make sure you have thought through the following before committing to a cat:
· Do you appreciate the importance of socialization?
o Many people don’t think of cats as social but they love to interact with their humans and their families. Don’t plan to just “get it and forget it.”
· Are you financially prepared?
o It is a misconception that cats are cheaper to own than dogs. They still require vaccinations and visits to the vet to remain in tip-top shape.
· Do you have time to exercise your cat?
o Remember lazy Garfield and how fat he was? We want our kitties to be healthy and in shape. Play time is all they need.
· Have you accepted kitty litter duty?
o Yes, they use the bathroom in a box and you clean up after them.
· Are you prepared to make a long term promise?
o Some cats have lived up in to their 20s; this is a fur baby that will be with you for a long time.
Also, with Easter approaching I would like to touch briefly on getting a bunny or a chick. This time of the year brings sad times for these over-commercialized animals. It sounds fun in the moment, getting a bunny as a pet for Easter. But chicks and bunnies are often bought impulsively with little thought given to the long-term. Often they are not taken care of appropriately and either abandoned or left at shelters. If a family decides that one of these animals would be the right fit for their home, some excellent alternatives would be to visit a local rabbit or chicken rescue. There is also the option to visit an animal sanctuary. This may satisfy the craving of wanting to hold and play with one of these animals.
Lastly, while everyone likes to start fresh with a puppy or kitten, please keep in mind rescues. Younger pets truly can be a fun handful, and if you don’t have the energy level to match, an older pet might be just the purrrrfect fit. Personally, I would love to see more animals adopted from shelters or rescues. Also, it can teach children how important it is, sometimes, to “adopt not shop.”
Pet stories always make some of the best stories! I would love hear about yours and see photos of your furry friend. Send them to Val@rivervalleycu.org.