The Fur One One
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Match
So. You think you are ready for a new family member. A puppy sounds good, however a cat might be a lot less work. Maybe you are ready to try something new and get an exotic pet like a ferret or chinchilla. Well then, now is a great time to talk about how to choose a pet that is right for you.
There are many factors that go into choosing a new pet. Such as lifestyle, allergies, kids and activity level, just to name a few. The most common mistake people make when picking a new pet is not doing their homework. By this, I mean that many people will see a cute dog or cat on television and decide that it is the perfect pet for them. They may run out and get one the next day without doing any research to see if that particular pet is suited to their lifestyle. Inevitably, a few weeks or months later they realize that they do not have time or knowledge to care for the pet so it ends up back at the breeder or in a shelter situation. This is very common problem with exotic pets. If you are like me, you watched “The Beastmaster” a thousand times and thought that owning 2 little ferrets (named Codo and Podo of course) would be amazing. Never fully understanding what it would take to care for them on a day to day basis. Ferrets and other exotics can, and do make great pets. They can be a wonderful alternative to those with allergies to dog or cat dander.
If you are trying to choose a dog or cat that is right for you I suggest answering a few simple questions:
1. Do you have time to spend with a puppy or kitten? Would an already trained adult be easier? Young animals take a lot of time and training so don’t be afraid to adopt an adult instead.
2. Do you want to spend time brushing your pet or do you want a coat that is easier to keep up with? If brushing is something you will enjoy think about getting a longhaired dog or cat. Otherwise a short or hypoallergenic coat may be the way to go.
3. What is your activity level? Do you want a dog that will run 5 miles a day with you or would you rather have a less active breed? There are great breeds that fall into both of these categories. Just take some time to find one that is right for you!
4. Does size matter? How large or small of a dog are you looking for? Remember that, generally speaking, the larger the dog the more it will cost to care for. Also remember the larger the breed the shorter the lifespan can be.
5. Do you have allergies to pet dander? If the answer is yes you may want to look into hypoallergenic breeds or hairless breeds.
6. Do you have children or grandchildren that will be around the pet? Ok, I will admit, this one is a little more difficult. Some breeds are better with children than others but ANY dog (or even cat) you bring into a house with children will need proper training and socialization. Even if it is just to be on the safe side.
7. Last but not least, are you prepared to make a long-term commitment to owning a pet? Some dogs can live to be 15 plus years old and cats can make it to 20! So be prepared for a life long commitment.
Once you have thought about all the things that are important to you and your family it’s time to start looking. There are resources on the web that can be helpful. Even a good old book of dog breeds could work. If you would like to adopt a mixed breed dog or domestic cat there are adoption counselors at the shelter that can help pick the right pet for you. If you are going through a rescue group that uses foster homes listen to what the foster parent has to say about the pet you are interested in. Foster parents can be a wealth of information about how a dog or cat (or ferret) does in a home environment. Also, if you have a previous relationship with a veterinarian, get their advice on picking a new pet.
Remember, with any companion that you choose there will be a period of adjustment. Don’t hesitate to call a professional trainer for any behavioral issues or even just basic training. Pet ownership can be a rewarding, fulfilling, and most of all fun experience. Just make sure you know what you are getting yourself into!
Well, what are you waiting for? Your perfect companion is out there somewhere so start looking. Good luck on your search!