Pick out any Hollywood movie and the dream goal or the happy ending is about the perfect couple, with their perfect kids, in their perfect house, with their perfect pet. Sounds idyllic, we know. But while everyone thinks of kids as a huge responsibility that one has to prepare for mentally, physically, and financially, unfortunately, the same amount of thought doesn’t always go into getting a pet. It’s a sad truth that many pets end up in shelters, or even worse, on the streets, because their owners suddenly realize that having a dog or cat at home isn’t always an opportunity to make a quick video for YouTube. There’s a lot of time, money, love and care that go into caring for an animal, and we sincerely wish people thought it over sensibly before taking the plunge.
This is why we’ve compiled a checklist, if you must, of things you should consider before adopting or buying a pet for your home.
Let’s face it, you need to get real with yourself. What exactly is the main reason that you are considering to get a pet? Do you hate coming home to en empty house? Are your kids desperate for a pet? Do you want one to show off? Are you planning on getting one just because a friend’s pet had a litter? Whatever your reasons, you need to be able to be honest with yourself. Because a pet is as much responsibility as living with a small child, And if your motives are not strong and unwavering, chances are you might just change your mind by the end of the first few months.
Getting a pet, even if you don’t buy but rather adopt one, is expensive. Especially the first few months. Very expensive. You’ll have regular doctors visits, immunization shots, multivitamins, dog or cat food (even if you plan on feeding your pet home food, most vets will recommend packaged food for the first few months to ensure proper nutrition in their growing months). There will also be a basic set of supplies needing to be purchased like collars, leashes, hygiene products like soap, nail trimmers and grooming brushes, and litter fill and litter boxes for cats. The first two to three months will be the most expensive.
A pet requires ample time. Whether it’s curling up with them in the evenings, grooming them, training them, taking them for walks, taking them to the vet, getting them exercise, it’s all in all a pretty big chunk of your day. And if you have a full load, are barely at home, and have to employ someone else to take care of their needs on a regular basis, you might have to rethink your availability to care for a pet in a way that will make him/her think that you’re really there for them.
Let’s put it this way, if you live in a small space, where most of the floor space is taken up by your furniture, maybe a Great Dane isn’t the ideal pet for you. While we in no way believe that you need to live on a farmhouse to be able to have a pet, you have to take into account the space that is required for a full grown version of that cute little puppy you plan on carrying home. Animals get claustrophobic and depressed too, and if they feel that they don’t have enough space to move around in, it’s a given.
We cannot stress this enough. It’s not enough to decide, for example, that you want a dog. You must research on breeds and compatibility with your individual situation. There are a lot of considerations that must be taken into account. Big dog vs small dog. Long hair vs short hair. Hound vs retriever. Do you have any other pets already? Do you have or are you planning on having children? Is there a park nearby for exercising? Every breed comes with its own set of pros and cons. Certain breeds have longer life spans than others, certain require much more training and exercise than others, certain need to be kept in cool areas. Even if you decide to adopt an indie or street dog, there are a lot of considerations. As there is with cat breeds as well. Each breed comes with its own temperament, potential health issues, and qualities. Research, research, research.
There will be horrible times. Guaranteed. Because life is messy, and so is family. And that’s what your pets become, family. You will have fruitless training sessions, your cat will urinate on the couch, your dog will chew your favorite pair of shoes. They will fall ill at times, and it will be emotionally harrowing. They will bark at strangers, and pull on their leash. They will scratch you when you try to pet them, or bathe them, or feed them, or just basically exist in the same universe (yes, cats can at times be pretty ruthless). But we promise that if you stick around through the tough times, the good times will be like no other. The love and comfort of a pet is an incomparable one. Just don’t forget, they need love and care in return.
*Disclaimer. We know, we went with the most obvious, and popular, choices for pet, i.e. dogs and cats, to illustrate our points. But the truth is even getting a goldfish requires care. You have to feed them everyday and you need to clean their tanks on a regular basis. Even a plant can’t be left to fend for itself. Please keep in mind that even if your pet (or the one you plan on getting) isn’t a dog or cat, don’t mistake it to mean that it doesn’t need affection, care, and attention. A life in your home can only prosper if you take the time and energy to care for it.