The kids have been asking for months. You and your spouse have even looked online for possible options. Here are 5 questions to answer before getting a family pet.
Can Everyone Agree? Little Billy wants a goldfish and your pre-teen wants a puppy. You’ve always loved cats and your husband dreams about one day owning a reptile. The worst thing you can do is go from no pets to more than one in a short span of time. Have everyone cast their vote and then discuss the maintenance and upkeep for whatever pet your debating. Even try listing the pet choices in order of desirability, based upon the discussion. If everyone cannot agree, table the decision for a pet for a later time. No one likes to hear “well, that’s YOUR cat/dog/snake/gerbil, etc.”
Is Your Home Suitable? Having a pony sounds like a great idea until you have to store it. Living in an apartment may not be the best home life for a Great Dane. Know your family’s schedule, activity level and physical constraints of your home. Adjust your family’s pet selection according to this criteria and everyone will be happiest.
Have You Counted The Cost? Pets are expensive, both financially and time consuming. Researching what to get and what the average yearly cost for food, medical care, toys and damage (labradors are notorious for having puppy stage that lasts for years which equals multiple pairs of chewed tennis shoes). Making a line item in your family’s monthly budget for Fido is imperative to good pet ownership.
Do You Know Your Limitations? It never fails that the kids will beg and plead and negotiate to get what they want in a pet. But almost ALWAYS it is you or your spouse who will bear the brunt of taking care of whatever living animal comes to live with you. If you can except it and expect it, you and your family will flow much easier. Unfortunately, pet care, becomes one more thing for Mom and Dad to tackle.
Can You Wait? No one can make a rational decision about animal ownership while standing at an adoption fair looking at pleading eyes. Do not fall for the begging and pleading until you are all on the same page about bringing a pet home. Be strong enough to walk away until everyone in the family has cast their vote.
The American Kennel Club has some fantastic information about the different breeds and types of dogs. This will help you decide what personality, activity level and maintenance. There is not such information about cats, because well, cats do whatever they want.
Whatever decision you and your family make, good luck! A pet can be a huge decision for a family and can bring lots of laughs and joy. However, the movies about out of control pets are only funny if they don’t live in your house.
You can find out more about Lindsey Andrews here.