Pet Guardianship Responsibility
When I was in college, I called my roommate one day to let her know I was on my way back from my weekend visit at home and to ask her to pick up some kitten food. “We have cat food,” she replied. I repeated my request and she said, “What have you done?” What I had done was to pick up a kitten out of a feral colony that lived in the neighborhood. She was from a litter of only two, her sibling had died, and her mom was sick. I was sure I could handle this. There are a lot of things that you should consider before adding a new animal to your household. I considered precisely none of these when I first brought Foxfire home.
Over a decade later, when I brought Tori home, it was after over a year of research into whether I was able to provide a household appropriate for her needs. Among the things that I learned during that time was the fact that the most common reason corgis are surrendered to shelters is behavior. People often get corgis because they’re cute and they give no thought to the fact that they are high energy, stubborn, herding dogs. When things don’t work out, everyone is unhappy, including the animal who is frequently surrendered or rehomed. Today we’re going to discuss some of the many things that you should look into and prepare for before you welcome a new pet into your life.
Different animals have vastly different needs, but they all need veterinary care. If you already have animals in your house, consider speaking to the veterinarian you take them to for information on introducing a new pet to the household, but also what type of pet might fit well with the ones you already have. If not, ask any friends or family in the area who they take their pets to. Find out if they are taking new patients, then schedule a tour to get a feel for the place and people. Make sure that you consider how you will pay for the veterinary care for your new addition. Veterinary insurance is widely available with many different types of plans that can help you cover costs. Consider setting up a savings account to pay for any routine care, accidents, or illness.
Cats and dogs have social needs. If you aren’t at home for long stretches of time, it’s important to ensure those are met. Many places have daycare for dogs where there is a controlled environment for them to interact with other dogs. This will also help with their need for exercise. If you are getting a cat and don’t already have other animals at home, consider adopting two together so that they have a companion. Tech is also providing us with a growing number of ways to interact with our animals even when we are away. Cameras allow you to watch your pets, but now some of them also allow you to speak with them, offer them treats, or even activate toys with play routines that actively learn what your pet’s preferences are.
Another critical thing to consider is what temperament you are looking for in a companion animal. If you want someone to keep you company while you’re reading all day long, consider adding an older cat or dog to your household. Whereas, if you’re looking for a running buddy, a puppy and a high energy breed might make more sense. And be sure to check with their veterinarian about how to safely train a dog to run with you. If you have children, you may want to avoid herders, since they can have a tendency to nip. There are so many different pets who need homes, ensure that you’re getting one who fits with the pace and style of yours.
The floorplan of your home, the amount of time you have available, and even the local weather are all things that you need to take into account. Food, exercise, access to litter boxes or yards, all of these are things that you should take the time to review before bringing a new pet home. Some breeds don’t tolerate cold climates well and will need sweaters and warming beds. Some have high grooming needs and will require a lot of time, money, or both to keep them comfortable. If you have your heart set on a specific breed, talk to other people who own them (either in person or online) and see what it’s like. And take that information into account when deciding if they are, in fact, a good fit for your life.
Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. We owe it to them to consider their needs and whether we are prepared to meet them before we make the decision to bring them home. Doing this research in advance can ensure that you and your companion have a long, healthy, happy time together.