Everyone has a perfect pet in mind. Since 1938, movies and television shows featuring Lassie have propelled Rough Collies into the limelight. Milo of The Adventures of Milo and Otis brought attention and favor to yellow tabbies, while even the Disney cartoon 101 Dalmatians created a great demand for Dalmatians.
Unfortunately, the reality of caring for these pets proves to be too much for some owners, and shelters are full of cats or dogs that didn’t quite work out for certain individuals. The benefits of adopting a pet from a shelter are great, but falling in love with a pair of big brown (or green!) eyes when you’re visiting is far too easy. Before you go, take a moment and consider:
No impulse adoptions! Depending on your budget, impulse buying is okay for a pair of shoes or a new scarf, but it’s not a good idea when you’re thinking of pets. Your decision will affect you and everyone in your family for years to come. Spend time at the shelter…and ask questions of the employees and find out what they’ve observed. What do they know about the pet’s history? What are her needs like now? Don’t feel pressured to make a choice after one visit.
An Order of Patience with a Side of TLC. If a dog or cat has been abused, are you willing to spend a little more time and energy meeting its needs? A pet abused by a particular gender may not trust anyone of that same gender. Some pets are very wary of children in general. A pet with an unhappy past may be very defensive and startle easily. On the other hand, people who’ve adopted and won over animals like these enjoy the lifelong loyalty of a very grateful pet.
Research breeds and their tendencies. You can learn a lot on-line or at your local library. What kind of pet matches your family? How active are you? Does anyone have allergies? Read everything you can get your hands on – and talk to other pet owners. An informed decision is a better decision.
Matching lifestyles. If you’re a long distance runner and you want a dependable running buddy, a high energy dog like a Labrador retriever or a grey hound makes sense. Every dog -no matter how small or large– needs regular exercise, ideally more than once a day. You may find the idea of snuggling on the sofa with a purring cat more appealing.
Matching expectations to reality. A good example of mismatched expectations is that from 2000 to 2010, there was a 90% decrease in AKC registration of Dalmatians. Many people wanted that breed after seeing the popular Disney movie – 101 Dalmatians – but unfortunately many were abandoned to shelters once the novelty wore off. In the US, Dalmatians were originally bred and trained to race to fires and lead the way for horses pulling fire carts. They were great watch dogs for the fire houses because they got along well with horses and alerted the firemen to any unsavory characters who might’ve high jacked a set of fast, powerful horses. It’s unrealistic to expect a dog with a history (and energy level) like that to snooze on the sofa all day while you’re at work.
Who’s Groomin’ Who? A Persian cat requires daily comb-outs to avoid snarls and mats in his fur. A poodle doesn’t shed but needs to be trimmed every 3- 4 weeks. How much time and energy does your schedule allow?
“We got rid of the kids. The dog was allergic.” Kidding! Some pets are better suited for owners who are sensitive to certain allergens. Breeds sometimes recommended as hypoallergenic are the cockapoo, hairless khala, Airedale terrier and poodle.
Once you’ve found your perfect pet, be sure to bring it to us for a baseline check-up. We’d love to meet the newest addition to your family and answer any questions you may have.
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