By Margaret Meier Jones, DVM, CVSMT, Animal Wellness Center of Bullalo Valley
Is it just me or does reading this make you want to break out in the Pattie Page song by the same title? In that song she wants to buy the dog for her sweetheart, singing, “If he has a dog, he won’t be lonesome, and the doggie will have a good home!” We all have certainly been tempted to buy a pet for a loved one, especially during the holiday season, but is this really a good idea? Does our sweetheart have the space, time, energy, and financial resources needed to properly care for that doggie and ensure it will truly have a good fur-ever home?
So many considerations must be made when we look to add a pet to our homes, and the family members who will be involved with the pet’s care really need to be part of the decision as to whether or not this should happen. Should we get a cat or a dog? A bird or a lizard? A guinea pig, a hamster, or a ferret? A fresh water or a salt water fish tank? Or should we settle on something even larger, like a pony or a pot bellied pig?
Settling on one of these species then brings even more questions such as which breed matches our family best? What health problems is that breed prone to? Does this breed have any special needs or other things that add to our financial commitment? For example, if it is a brachycephalic breed (i.e., Bull dog or Himalayan), the soft palate is functionally elongated so they snore and have increased anesthetic risks during surgical procedures. Or, are we getting a giant breed, such as a Great Dane, that has larger spatial requirements and a shorter life expectancy?
Next we must ask ourselves if we are going to get our new pet at the pet store, shelter, rescue group, breeder, Craigslist advertisement, or through friends and family via Facebook? Will they join our family as a puppy/kitten, a young adult, or would a senior citizen work better for us? I know what you might be thinking: does each answer really just lead to more questions? I like THAT doggie in the window I see right now! Why can’t I just buy him and take him home!? You certainly can, but…..
Do you have the supplies he needs? Good food and bowls, leashes, kennels, and space inside or outside your home that’s a safe shelter for him? Litter boxes, scratching posts, and age-appropriate toys? Are you ready to deal with accidents that might happen in your new environment with potty training and/or separation anxiety? Do you have friends and family willing to let you bring your new friend with you when you visit them this holiday season or do you need to secure space at a boarding facility? Are they current on the immunizations that the kennel requires and does that facility have vacancy?
Have you asked your sweetheart these questions? When you do, and the answers come easily, we congratulate you and look forward to meeting your new furry friend too!