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Choosing The Right Pet

July 7, 2018 GMT

Throughout my life, I have had a variety of pets. Some were thought out and carefully planned. Admittedly, others were not. When I was young, like many children, I loved to play with my pets, but the feeding and clean up of them often came through my dutiful mother. My mom wanted me to be happy and would give in to my pleas for a pet, but it often came at the price of more work and responsibility for my already overworked mom. As an adult, I learned that decisions surrounding pets should never be made in haste. The responsibility and obligation throughout the pet’s lifetime is huge. It’s health, quality of life, exercise, etc. should always be carefully thought out. And of course there is the expense. What kind of pet would fit into the lifestyle of you and your family? I hope my column today will shed some light on the subject. Here are a few things to do and not to do when choosing a pet. 1. No impulse shopping: As I mentioned, it is so important to carefully consider all factors before adding a pet to your household. Try not to adopt or purchase a pet on a whim or inspiration. Make it a deliberate, thought-out action. Buying a pet at a pet shop because it looks so, so adorable is not a good way to add another long-term member to your family. Sometimes we are not the best judges of our needs and sometimes our desires don’t really fit our needs. You might ask a close relative what kind of pet might fit your lifestyle. Don’t be impulsive. 2. Shop around: Take the time to learn all about the kind of pet you are considering buying. Pet stores have a built-in bias to sell the animals so they are often not the best places to learn about pets. Books are somewhat better, but no one has written an animal book who wasn’t head over heels in love with that type of animal. Often the negative aspects of a species are glossed over. Remember that a new pet can change the structure of a family and needs to be acceptable to all family members. If you are considering purchasing a dog, learn about the special attributes of many breeds. Dog breeds are as different in their personalities, abilities and needs as people are. Please do your homework regarding any type of pet that you are considering. You may be surprised to know that a specific pet is higher maintenance than you had anticipated. 3. Visit the Humane Society and animal rescue organizations: Make a few walk-through trips to your local humane society or ferret, guinea pig and rabbit rescue organizations and interact with some of the animals there in a quiet one-on-one basis. Don’t pay too much attention to the chatter regarding specific pets. Just observe the pet when it is alone with you and try to make a mental list of its positive and negative traits. There are many wonderful animals in need of forever homes. 4. Match your pet to your lifestyle: Are you a night owl or a day person? Some pets, like sugar gliders and ferrets spend much of the day asleep and are most active at night. Do you work long hours? Some pets get very lonely by themselves (dogs) while others are not bothered by solitude (cats). Do you have children? Are they mature enough not to be a threat to the pet you choose? If you travel a lot who will care for the pet while you are away? Do you want a pet that will exercise with you, or a pet that requires minimal or no exercise? 5. Match your pet to your home environment: How much free space is there? Is there a backyard? Is it fenced? How will your neighbors feel about this new pet? If you rent, what will your landlord think about this pet? 6. Decide why you want a pet: Is this pet going to be a child substitute? There is nothing wrong with that. But then you may want a dog or possibly an unusually affectionate cat. One of the toy breeds may be ideal for you. Your personality traits are very important. Do you want a pet that is independent and requires little contact or are you looking for an energetic companion with whom you can jog or play Frisbee? Cat people tend to have different traits than dog people. If you give either of them the wrong species, they often have trouble bonding with the pet. Have you ever noticed that with time, pets and their owners tend to resemble each other? Consider the reasons you want a new pet. Do you want to play with it and caress it? If so, a newt or turtle may not be the right pet for you. Do you want to teach it tricks and interact with it? Then an intelligent pet like a dog, cat or ferret might be the right choice. Many families purchase a pet to be their children’s companion. This is an excellent idea. However, do not purchase a pet to instill responsibility in an immature child. Owning a pet and being forced to care for it does not instill responsibility in a child. If you are uncertain, be prepared to do most of the care yourself (like my poor mom did for me). 7. Decide if this is the right time in your life to get a pet: Frankly consider if this is really the right time in your life to own a (another) pet. If you already have other pets how will they get along with the new one? How stable are your human relationships? How good is your health? 8. Decide how long you want your pet to live: How long do you expect your pet to live? Average dogs and cats live 12-16 years — some longer. Tortoises and goldfish have indeterminate life spans that approximate our own. Small parrots live eight to 14 years; larger ones 35-60 years. Mice and rats, however, are old at two years. 9. Decide if you are able to meet this pet’s specific needs: It is a good idea to do some research online or at the library as to how much care your pet will need. Try to find some local owners you can visit with. Do you have enough time to properly feed and clean for it? Many pets get bored if they do not have enough one-on-one contact. This boredom can lead to a host of undesirable behaviors. 10: Cost: Besides the initial cost of the pet, you will incur considerable expense in purchasing the pet a suitable home or cage. Over time, the cost of a good diet will far exceed whatever you paid for the animal. It may need expensive veterinary care, grooming and pet sitters as well. So be prepared, educate yourself, and make the best decision for yourself, your family, and most of all, the new addition. Dog bless judyendo@outlook.com Resource: Ron Hines DVM PhD/2nd Chance