All we have to do is spend some time at an animal shelter to see the vast number of pets who have been found or surrendered and are now in need of new homes. Some of these pets actually came from loving homes. But because of changes in job situations, a move to a new city or state, a new baby, an child’s allergy or any number of unexpected events, we are occasionally forced to do something we don’t want to do….give up our pets.
But unfortunately, the majority of the animals found in these shelters are there because of poor choices on the part of people who are choosing a pet for themselves or their families. For example, a young mom and dad give into their little boy who begs and begs for a cute little Dalmatian……like the one he just saw in the children’s movie “101 Dalmatians”. So they all go to a pet store and find a sweet little Dalmatian puppy that their little boy just has to have. After spending too much money for the puppy, they take the dog home to a small two bedroom apartment on the 9th floor of a high rise in the middle of the city. Since they’ve never had a dog before, they don’t know anything about potty training nor are they ready for the crying and barking this little puppy makes in the middle of the night when the house is dark and the puppy is lonesome and scared. While the family is gone each day for 8-10 hours, the puppy has the run of the house. One parent will try to get home during the day to take the puppy outside to potty, but because of job demands, going home in the middle of the day is not always possible.
Their frustration with the dog grows as he pees all over their home and chews on anything he finds like shoes, toys, furniture and even garbage. He barks continuously and now the neighbors are starting to complain. One evening, after a long day at work, the family opens their apartment door to find their once cute little puppy has torn their sofa apart and has dragged the stuffing all over the apartment. Then, they find the cake they were all looking forward to having for dessert that evening is nowhere to be found. The only sign that the cake was ever there in the first place is a broken cake plate in the middle of the bathroom floor. Mom and dad both explode. “This is the last straw! This dog has to go!” The little boy doesn’t care because the little puppy he just had to have a few months ago, is now a clumsy teenager who gets into all of his things. This puppy is no longer any fun to have around……the little boy would rather have a new video game. So, this poor dog is carted away and discarded with no more thought than one would give when tossing out a bad meal.
There are thousands and thousands of pets throughout the world who are taken to animal shelters or simply abandoned because of poor decision-making on the part of their owners. I’d like to believe that most of these people had good intentions when deciding to bring a pet into their homes….they just didn’t spend the time doing some basic research about the pet they chose.
What are some basic things to know before getting a pet?
The first question to ask ourselves when thinking about bringing a pet into our home is……how will having this pet fit into my life? In other words, how much time will I need and want to spend with this pet in order to have a happy, healthy and well-adapted pet? Will I and do I want to have this pet be a part of my life for several years? After all, some pets live a long, long time. Can I make that sort of commitment to this pet? It’s cruel to get a pet with the idea that we’ll just find a new home for him if we don’t want him anymore after a few months or years. Pets are not old shoes that we just toss out when they don’t fit us anymore. They’re our responsibilities to love and care for as parts of our families.
An important but not often remembered thing we need to ask ourselves before getting a pet is……can I afford to feed and care for this pet? Some pets can be rather expensive to own. Do I have the money for food, shelter, boarding, grooming and veterinary care? Then there’s all the practical things to ask ourselves…..what do I know about potty training? What sort of habitat and temperature does this pet need? How will this pet fit in with the pets I already have at home? What will I do with the pet when I’m at work……when I’m out of town? Can I and am I willing to make sure this pet gets the exercise it needs to stay happy and healthy? The list goes on and on…….and the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves depends on the kind of pet we ‘re interested in getting. The important thing is that we ask and research and then ask again…….is this the right pet for me….for my family?
I know life has a way of throwing a wrench into well-laid plans…….sometimes issues beyond our control force us to make hard decisions that we might not ordinarily make. One of those decisions might be about whether or not we can keep our beloved pet. Having to re-home a pet is a gut-wrenching and difficult decision to make. But again, there are times when we don’t have a choice. All we can do is what’ s best for our families and our pets……..and do it with appreciation for all this pet has given us in the short time we were together.
So please, please, please……..before you invest in a pet, ask some questions, do some research and then ask some questions again. If you go about getting a pet in this manner, you will avoid making a “spot” buy of that “cute” puppy in the pet store that you know nothing about……..and the pet you do get for yourself and your family will be one that fits your lifestyle and home.