pet is a lifetime commitment!
people are unaware of the enormous responsibilities associated with pet ownership. Although they have good intentions,
such people bring a pet into the household and then find that the care involved is just too overwhelming. This can,
and often does, lead to tragedy.
folks, grownups and children alike, want a pet because it's "cute." They see movies, TV shows or commercials featuring
adorable baby animals. Or maybe a neighbor's pet has just given birth to a litter. These people get their hearts
set on a puppy (most often a specific breed puppy), or a kitten. So, without giving any thought to what pet ownership
entails, they bring a furry friend into the household. Everyone oohs and aahs over the cute little thing. Everybody
wants to pick it up, cuddle it and play with it.
But in many instances--surprise!--nobody wants to take care of it.
Oh, sure, it looks easy to anyone who's never had a pet. They think
all you have to do is throw some food in front of it a couple times a day and that's it. The rest of the time, it's
there to be your playmate whenever you want. How much trouble can such a cute little thing be?
a pet is like having a child. A perpetual child, in fact, because the average fully grown dog has the mental capacity
of the average 3-year-old human. And you don't just feed and walk a dog and that's it. There is a lot more involved,
and a lot of caveats to be aware of before making a major decision like becoming a pet owner.
First of all, a pet is a living creature. Obtaining
one is not like buying a TV. Don't go into it thinking that if it doesn't work out, if you're not happy with your choice,
you'll just exchange it or get rid of it. A pet owner becomes the animal's "parent" for life. And the average
canine life expectancy is 14 years.
adopted a child, you wouldn't return that child to the adoption agency because it failed to meet your preconceived expectations,
would you? I would certainly hope not! Nor should you carry that kind of mentality with you when you're looking
to adopt an animal.
A pet isn't a toy. You don't just put the animal
down somewhere when you're finished playing with it and expect it to just sit passively waiting for you to come back.
Very young animals are like very young children. When they're not asleep, they're wide awake and looking for entertainment!
For a puppy who's begun teething, this may involve chewing your favorite shirt to bits. It's at this point when many
people lose their patience and cart the poor thing off to an animal shelter, when the poor puppy's only crime was being a
puppy! That is what young dogs do. They're not being malicious, and they're not being destructive to spite you.
So if you're planning on adopting a puppy, you might want to rearrange your household first so the animal can't get hold of
anything you don't want destroyed. Stocking up on chew toys is a good idea too.
If you have your heart set on a certain breed, know the characteristics of that breed
before committing yourself. Don't just go by looks. Is the breed smart, or isn't it known for its intelligence?
Will it be easy to train? Will it be a couch potato or hyperactive? Are there any inherent health problems you'll
have to look out for? Many large breeds have back or hip problems. Some poodles develop eye problems later in
life. Make sure that if you go that route, you purchase your dog from a reliable breeder who will guarantee the health
of the pet.
Just as with children, pets cost money to raise and maintain. There
will be pet food to buy, vet bills to pay when the animal needs vaccinations or medical attention, ongoing expenses like heartworm
and flea control, and possibly grooming bills. Not to mention the cost of boarding the animal if you go on vacation.
If you're not prepared to lay out bucks, forget having a pet.
Any pet not used for breeding by a professional should be neutered. Many folks, especially
men from what I've seen, recoil at the idea of "maiming" the animal or depriving it of a sex life. But that's not the
case at all! Neutering isn't "maiming." A pet who is allowed to mature without being neutered is in for a myriad
of frustrations and, down the road, health problems. Many unspayed female dogs develop cancer of the reproductive system
in later life. Male and female dogs who are not neutered but are also not allowed to mate can become short-tempered
when they cannot do what nature is telling them they're supposed to be doing.
With this in mind, some folks "solve" the problem
by allowing the dog to mate at least once. In fact, there are many people who are of the mindset that a female dog needs
to produce a litter before being spayed. Now, I don't know where that rumor got started, but it's nothing more but an
old wives tale and a dangerous one at that. First of all, it is irresponsible to arbitrarily allow pets to reproduce.
Pet overpopulation is a SERIOUS problem. Every year, between
10-12 million pets are euthanized by
shelters because there are simply no homes for them. Why would any thinking person want to add to this number?
Secondly, dogs should be fixed before they mature sexually to avoid health troubles down the road. If you don't believe
what I'm saying here, ask any vet.
In short, if you're going to obtain a pet, be responsible and have it neutered. Don't be swayed by the prospect
of dollar signs if you get a purebred. There's no guarantee you will sell all pups from the litter, and even if you
do, for every puppy you sell, there's one sitting in a shelter somewhere who may die without being adopted.
The dog breeding business, like any other business,
has its responsible players and its shady characters. There are puppy mills in existence where the poor animals are
forced to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions. The dogs are mated without a thought as to their health.
Deafness in some Dalmatians was caused in no small part by inbreeding, mating males and females from the same litter.
This is how most health problems in purebreds came about. Why not consider a hybrid instead? Mixed breeds are
just as cute and notoriously healthier and yet they're the ones being passed over! Why not obtain a pet from the Humane
Give them a try first even if you have your heart set on a specific breed. There are lots of advantages to obtaining
an adult dog from a shelter or from one of the many breed-specific rescue operations out there (see the next page for a couple
of links). You'd be doing such a good deed by adopting a pet in this way and, quite possibly, saving it from being destroyed.
Some more thoughts...
~Don't ever give a pet as a surprise
gift to someone, especially not a child (unless that child is your own and you're prepared to be the pet's caregiver).
Whoever obtains a pet should do so voluntarily and willingly, after learning what is involved in raising that particular species.
live chicks or bunnies to your kids as Easter gifts. They are living, breathing creatures. Cute little yellow
chicks grow into chickens! So unless you live on a farm, settle for the toy variety instead.
~Do know what pet ownership entails. Have an
idea of how much it will cost you in terms of time and money. Also have a sense of how it will change your lifestyle.
It may sound as if I'm discouraging
pet ownership. Nothing could be further from the truth! I LOVE animals! And I'm in a position to speak of the responsibilities faced by pet owners because I'm one myself.
A pet is truly part
of the family.
Having a pet is a joy, but it's also a lot of work. Just be aware of all this before making your final decision.
Don't let your common sense melt along with your heart when you see cute baby animals. Their innocent faces hide lots
We Can Learn from Dogs
~When loved ones come home run to greet them
~Never pass up the opportunity of a joy ride
~Allow the wind and fresh air in your face to be pure ecstasy
~When it's in your best interests, practice
know when they've invaded your territory
~Take naps often and stretch before rising
~Run, romp and play daily
~Thrive on attention and let people touch you
~Avoid biting when a simple growl will do
~On warm days, stop and lie on your back in the grass
~On hot days drink lots of water and
lie in the shade of a tree
happy, dance around and wag your entire body
~No matter how often you are scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout.; run right back and make friends
~Delight in the simple joy of a long
~Eat with gusto
and enthusiasm, but stop when you've had enough
to be something you are not
~If what you
want lies buried, dig till you find it
And most of all...
~When someone is having a bad day, be
silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently