Sunday, July 14, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Bringing home a pet

Three years ago we decided to add a new family member, once the kids were all past baby and toddler hood. The girls being a bit older were ready to help with some of the responsibility and I wanted a new “baby”. We did some research on hypoallergenic dogs to avoid allergy issues with my husband and found Myla. I have to say there were and still are many moments when I ask myself “what was I thinking?”.
We definitely love her and couldn’t imagine life without her, but she is still a big commitment. If you’re thinking you need a new “baby” in your life, I’m offering some things to think about before you take the plunge. If you’re on the cusp trying to decide if your family can handle a new member maybe these ideas will shed some light.
Fish: This is a very low maintenance pet, depending on the breed you choose you can have multiple in the same tank. What’s involved? Naming the fish, feeding the fish (some fish only need to be fed weekly, others daily) and cleaning the tank/bowl occasionally (again weekly or bi-weekly). Don’t forget chatting with them. This is a great starter pet for any family. Also great if you are trying to teach your child responsibility. Another pro, it can quickly (and sometimes without being noticed) be replaced, if there is any kind of mishap with this pet.
Guinea Pigs: This is another pretty low maintenance pet. They live in a cage and are cute and cuddly to play with (although, quite delicate I’ve read so make sure to always be around when they are being carried or played with). They do require to be fed daily as well as daily interaction so consider this if you don’t have a lot of time to spend with your pet. Their cages should be cleaned weekly and depending on the length of their hair they need to be brushed every few days or weekly. Their life span is five to seven years, so if you do buy a guinea pet be prepared to have a pet about that long.
Birds: Quite a lot to consider if you have a bird as a pet. Some birds need hours of flight, parrots for instance, and companionship while others, such as finches, just need to be fed and watered and have their cage kept up. Birds are beautiful to listen to, but can be noisy so perhaps not the best bet if you’re living in an apartment. Some feathers may break down into small pieces and so could be bad for people with asthma. They require a cage, bedding, and food and water. They seem like a wonderful addition to a family with space, light and no noise restrictions.

Cats: I grew up with a very loved cat. Lucky was the best pet ever. She loved us, but kept to herself and came and went as she pleased. We could pet her often but also knew when not to (if she had been hurt etc.). She was a very easy pet to read. Cats need food, water and litter and litter boxes, a few toys and maybe a bed.
There can be indoor cats or outdoor cats. Cats can be low maintenance in that they can be left for a few days with enough food and water and a clean litter. They have a very long life span, our Lucky lived until she was 22, she was older than me when she passed away, so be prepared to care for them for a very long time, way past the cute kitten phase.
Dogs: When you think puppy, think baby. Puppies are soooo much work. Don’t let that discourage you though, if you have the time and heart I’m sure you’ll love every moment as a new parent to your new puppy.
Puppies require being trained. Trained to do their business outdoors, trained how to behave with you and others, trained to walk on a leash and trained to play with other dogs. Puppies require a bed, possibly a cage (if you plan to crate your puppy), food and frequent vet visits. There are many breeds of dogs, so ensure you research the breed you choose before you purchase a puppy. Consider the following questions: Is it a good breed with children? Is it a high energy dog, is it a smart dog (easily trained)? Does it have typical medical issues? Also, before getting a puppy really consider if you have someone to care for your dog while you’re away, especially if your family is away often. If you know someone that has a dog from the breed you are considering ask them all the questions you can think of, get some first hand answers from them. If you do get a puppy ensure you have the time to spend with your puppy, train your puppy, and play with your puppy. Having said all that, dogs will show you loyalty and love, all day every day. You will be their pack leader.
Important things to consider and remember when deciding if your family should get a pet:

  • Remember to teach children about the pet, what they eat, how much exercise they need, what they need to stay healthy etc.
  • If you are getting an animal for your child to learn responsibility, that is awesome. They can be in charge of exercising the animal, cleaning up after the animal and feeding the animal. However, if this doesn’t pan out and their interests lag, you are going to have to take over the responsibilities – be prepared for that eventually.
  • Remember that the cutesy little kitten/puppy/guinea pig does get to be big and adult sized, and still require all the love!.
  • Research how much your pet is going to cost to take care of, it’s food, vet bills (spay/neuter, sterilization), cage supplies, litter supplies and treats. Before you commit to an animal, make sure your budget can hack all these expenses.
  • The last thing to recall is that not all pets live a super long time. You’ll have to think about how you and your family will deal with a pet’s death. It is so absolutely heart breaking for all when this happens. They do become such a special part of the family.

I hope this information and these tips help with the big decision of bringing home a pet.

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