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Last Updated on February 17, 2017 by Diane Hoffmaster
Spring is approaching and with it comes lots of new baby animals. If you are considering adding a critter to your house, I encourage you to check out these tips for choosing the right pet before you shop. Animals are a huge commitment and they deserve to be a full-fledged member of your family.
Growing up, I had a dog until I was about 10 years old and he passed away from old age. That was the first time I had ever seen my father cry and that memory has stuck with me for decades. I begged and pleaded for years after that to be allowed to have another pet and was repeatedly told NO. Finally, my parents caved and let me get a hamster. I bet they regretted that decision when one week after I brought my beloved little furball home I woke up to find a cage full of baby hamsters! Oh, the joys of pet ownership! When I graduated college and moved in with my boyfriend, the first thing we did was buy a dog. Maybe not the smartest decision financially but she provided years of unconditional love and security...not to mention about 50 pounds of excess fur all over my house.
Tips for Choosing the Right Pet
Pet ownership can be a fair amount of work and you definitely need to go into it with your eyes wide open. However, there can be a number of benefits to pet ownership that you might want to consider the next time your child comes begging "Mooooommmm, can we get a pet???" Here are a few tips for choosing the right pet for your family so that you all have a happy and healthy relationship for many years to come.
Do your research
You need to be realistic about the amount of time, money and attention you can give to an animal. If you are gone for 12 hours at a stretch, you may not want to get a puppy. Their little bladders will empty about every 2 hours whether you are there to let them out for a potty break for not. Same goes for cats...don't get a long haired cat that needs grooming if you aren't willing to do it (or pay someone to have it done). Don't get a Border Collie if no one in your house likes running, throwing balls, or tossing frisbees. Excess energy will be spent chewing your couch and digging in your plants. Know the breed and species you are considering buying before diving into pet ownership.
Do not expect your children to do all the work
I don't care if your kid is 12 and insists he or she is going to care for this animal 100%. YOU will be the one picking up dog vomit and driving said vomiting animal to the vet for anti-nausea meds when it eats your plant because no one took her for a walk. Pet ownership is an adult responsibility. It's great for kids to help but be realistic about your involvement.
Plan on being a good neighbor
It is YOUR pet...which means that it belongs in YOUR house or yard...not the neighbors Your neighbor does not want to pick up your dog's poop or find out that your cat is snacking at their bird feeder. They also do not want to listen to your dog barking all night or your cat making those horrid cat-in-heat noises outside their window. I have a few neighbors myself that need lessons in proper pet ownership. I routinely find cats roaming in my FENCED backyard. They don't appreciate it when I let my dog outside to remind them what fences are made for. One of the most important tips for choosing the right pet is to take into account your living and working situations before buying an animal.
Animals are not cheap. They require an awful lot of stuff to be happy and healthy and you are the one that has to fork over all the money. Consider your budget when deciding what type of pet to get. A big dog eats a LOT of food, requires a very large dog bed and is incredibly hard on toys. If your budget is limited, do a little research before you head out to look at animals. Knowing what an animal costs to take care of is an important thing to consider when buying a pet.
Set up a schedule
My kids are just like everyone else's...they love their pets until someone says it is time to pick up their poop! Too bad, I am not the only person in this house capable of wielding a plastic bag or shovel. During the week we are rather pressed for time so my husband and I usually share the chores. On the weekends the kids are required to help. They sift lizard sand and wash dishes, pick up dog presents around the yard, feed the fish, and whatever else needs to get done. Is it done happily? No...it usually involves an excessive amount of whining and I hear a lot of EEEWWWWW from whoever is in charge of dog poop patrol. Too bad. Hopefully, they will have a decent understanding of pet ownership responsibilities when they head out on their own and consider their own pet choices.
Be prepared to love unconditionally
Even though pet ownership is a huge responsibility, we get something amazing in return...unconditional love. They love us because we pat their head or fill their food bowl. We are awesome because we are the keepers of the cat treats. Humans rock because we can make crickets appear when they are hungry or provide a warm lap to sleep in when they are tired. Our mere existence in their lives makes us seem awesome in their eyes. It is a pretty amazing feeling.
Owning a pet can have wonderful rewards. Animals have been shown to improve our mood, reduce depression, encourage people to exercise, lower our blood pressure and improve family bonds. But, owning the WRONG pet or not going into pet ownership with some realistic ideas can cause an incredible amount of stress. It can also annoy the crap out of your neighbor if you live in an apartment and decide you want to get a parrot that enjoys mimicking police sirens. But, next time your kid comes to you begging for an animal you might want to give pet ownership a chance!
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Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.