I Really Want a Pet … I Think

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    Question: My kids have been bugging me to get a pet and I think that maybe I do want one, but I’m not sure.

    Answer: Ok, let’s look at a few points to help in the decision.

    What kind of time/money do you have to devote to a pet?

    A dog probably takes the most time and money. Through a dog’s lifespan (about 15 years) it can run you about $16,000. Dogs need regular exercise and need to be taken out for “potty time” every few hours, day and night.

    If your kids are bugging you for a dog and they say they will really, really, really take care of it. Try this trick: A friend’s kids wanted a dog. She was very, VERY smart! She gave them a stuffed dog and told them they had to care for it as if it was a real one. This included feeding twice daily, taking it out for walks and potty time, brushing it, training it, etc. She gave them a month and sat back and watched. IF the kids DO keep up with the responsibility, they’re ready.

    Are your kids old enough?

    Greeting cards will tell you there’s nothing like kids and puppies/kittens. Well, they’re in the card business, not the dog/cat business! They’re there to sell you cards based on the “oooooh” factor — The more they can get you to say “oooooh”, the more they can get you to buy their cards!

    Most rescues will NOT adopt out where there are children under 5 years old in the home, and some go as high as 8 years old. There’s good reason: NO puppy, kitten, dog or cat wants to get pulled on or tugged around by a child. And, there is NO child that I know of who enjoys being chewed on by those sharp puppy teeth or clawed by those cat claws!

    If the responsibility or time commitment of owning a dog seems too much, a cat might be the answer.

    Cats can be indoor or outdoor cats, or a combination of both. Cats require less time than a dog (no taking out for walks, etc.) but they still require grooming, veterinary care, litter box cleaning, etc.

    If it’s a cat that will be indoors only, it will need distractions so that it doesn’t shred furniture, draperies, doorways (I had one who shredded the wood all around my doorways), etc. If it’s an inside/outside cat, be prepared for “treats” from “the great hunter” left at your doorstep (or better, IN YOUR SLIPPERS — yep, been there, too!).

    So, while they do take less time, it’s up to you if a cat is right for you. They’re more independent than dogs, but they’re also a lot of fun to play with.

    Birds are also an option!

    Birds range from low maintenance to very high maintenance, depending on what kind you get. But they do require attention or the will DEMAND it! They can be awesome pets (I have a few and LOVE them). Make sure, though, that you read up on the bird you want to see if it is a good match for you.

    So, whatever level of ownership you AND your family are interested in, make SURE you READ UP on what type of pet you’re interested in. Remember, this will be a FAMILY pet and, therefore, ALL MEMBERS MUST BE ON BOARD to make it work!!!

    And remember, places like Toys-R-Us and K-B Toys sell these AWESOME stuffed critters that are VERY life-like, but the only maintenance they need is batteries!!!!

    Next week, we’ll cover picking out your new buddy!

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