Have you always dreamed of seeing your kids playing with a puppy just like in the commercials? You know the ones I’m talking about. The kid gets a puppy and the puppy and kid grow up together: playing catch, going hiking, and going for car rides.
Before you make that 10+ year commitment that a pet is, make sure your family is ready and the type of pet you want fits with your family’s needs. Not only is it fair to your family, but it is also fair to the pet or new family member that you have similar wants and needs.
Pets have wants and needs, you say? YES! Let’s talk again about that commercial that tends to depict the most generic “family friendly” dogs of all time: the Labrador or Golden Retriever (sorry if you are a lover of these breeds– no offense). Both are high-energy and need to be exercised and entertained. If you don’t care that your favorite throw pillow gets destroyed or your grandmother’s vase gets broken, then by all means let them run amuck! Ask yourself honestly, “do I have HOURS a day to commit to walking, running, and playing with a dog?” Oh, and don’t forget potty training. Do you remember having a newborn? Getting up in the middle of the night? Well, are you ready for another round of that? Or what about taking the puppy out in the rain or God forbid snow? If that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, you need to reevaluate what type of pet would be the ideal new family member.
So, you think you want a dog, but can’t commit to the time-consuming aspects that come with one. I then encourage you to go to your local shelter and spend time in their cat room. Why a shelter? The ASPCA informs us that around 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters across the country each year (ASPCA, 2016). Sure, some people may have cat allergies and in that case a low-maintenance, non-shedding dog may be your best solution. BUT, for those with no allergies, cats tend to be LOW-maintenance and can make great companions that fit a busy family’s lifestyle much better than most dogs.
Of course, one of the most important aspects of getting a pet is the financial commitment. Your new family member will need to see the vet at least once a year and don’t forget you need to be prepared financially for an emergency. Does your family have 1000s of dollars just laying around for a rainy day or a surgery to remove a toy from your pet’s stomach (or some sort of delightful combination of both)? These costs often lead to pets being surrendered to local shelters, rescues, or even being euthanized because their family cannot afford their care. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but these are harsh realities for a lot of pets.
Moral of the story: spend some time – and then spend even more time – thinking and exploring the idea of having a pet. You are committing to that pet your love, quality care, and shelter for the rest of their life. If that’s all too intimidating in the end, there are always goldfish.
ASPCA,(2016). Pet Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics