As it appears that spring (or at least a teaser) is making an early appearance in New England the thought of adding to our pet families often emerges. “My kids are really pushing for a dog”. “My daughter really wants another kitten”. “What pet is best for my situation” are common statements and questions we will hear with greater frequency. As a recent new owner of a 10 week old Irish Setter puppy (no surprise here) my sleep deprived thoughts turn toward the best advice to offer up to clients. Hopefully a few words of guidance will make the decision a bit more objective, if not easier.
1. Regardless of age, no matter how much responsibility the kids in the house say they will assume, odds are that Mom and Dad will shoulder the bulk of the work. If Mom and Dad aren’t eager to own a new pet, probably best to wait for now. Of course there are exceptions to this rule if a young person in the household is highly responsible and motivated but please, discuss the whole issue at length. Rehoming of pets is a far too frequent occurrence.
2. Canine or Feline? Although kittens require less attention initially than puppies, more and more research unveils the importance of interactive family play. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Anti-Social Behaviors are but a few of the conditions that are now felt to be, in part, caused by a lack of environmental enrichment and human socialization with cats when they are young.
3. Is breed really that important? Yes, yes and again yes. Whether considering a dog or cat take time to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the breed or breeds (including mixes) that you are considering. The breed attributes of purebreds can be a bit easier to assess but it is also possible to make some general predictions when it comes to mixed breeds. Breed makeup can be a bit more difficult to judge in cats but suffice to say that basic observations can go a long way in making a well thought out decision. For example a client inquired recently about a dog who appeared to have Husky, German Shepherd and Border Collie. She was looking for a laid back dog that would be happy to sit around and mellow indoors. Considering that Huskies were bred to run for hours in the snowy wilderness, Shepherds are chosen for their attentiveness and ability to stand watch indefintely and Border Collies run circles around sheep and cattle to keep them in line, this is unlikely to be a low energy dog. Similarly someone looking for a cat to live in an apartment where a quiet demeanor is important, one should not choose a cat that looks like it has strong Siamese heritage.
4. Does the pet match your lifestyle? This is perhaps the hardest part of the task. If you are frequently required to stay late at work with short notice, think carefully before adopting any pet. Although dog walkers, cat sitters and pet day care are all services readily available, they are not a substitute for quality time with an owner family. If you do not enjoy being outdoors in all types of weather, do not adopt an Irish Setter….they don’t care come rain, shine, snow or ice. If you like to relax at home with stillness and solitude, the activity level of an Abyssinian cat may not work for you. The difference in feline and canine breeds is often dramatic. Make sure to do the due diligence. One of the most often cited reasons for giving up a pet for rehoming is a conflict between lifestyle and the pet’s needs. Please don’t contribute to this epidemic
So as spring arrives and the time of new beginnings is upon us, adopting a new pet can be extraordinarily enjoyable. Considering as many factors as possible can go along way in making this new family member a much looked forward to event. If you have any questions whatsoever, regarding breed, activity level, likely health problems socialization capabilities or expense in acquiring a new pet, please feel free to contact us. Whether a potential client, a current client or just someone who wants to avoid making a mistake, it is our goal to be there for you and our canine and feline friends. And speaking of new family members….meet Lou!