I cannot tell you how important it is to choose the right pet for your lifestyle, energy and entire family. Which means, you cannot make an impulsive emotional decision. Letting your 6 year old child select your next dog or cat is a huge mistake. But that doesn’t mean that your child should not be a part of the process. Absolutely! But letting a child make a decision that everyone in the family will be expected to live with for the lifetime of that pet is ridiculous.
Selecting a pet needs to be a carefully thought out process that includes making a equally careful evaluation of yourself. What are you really up to? How much time will you dedicate to this pet? Like are you willing to get up an extra hour early in the morning to ensure your new puppy gets outside for exercise and mental stimulation before you leave them all day while you’re at work and the kids are in school?
And chosing a pet based on a picture or looks alone is as stupid as chosing a spouse based on the same. In fact, you’d expect to have a few dates with your prospective spouse before making a long term and life long commitment, so why would you not do exactly the same with a new pet? This choice should not be an emotional one or at least not exclusively. Use your head AND your heart. You should love what you see and feel but you should also be able to stop and say “Is a 3 month old puppy going to fit into my lifestyle and am willing to compromise my lifestyle for this puppy?” Are you willing to come home straight after work rather than going out with friends or other things that are a part of your normal routine to now ensure that your new puppy is getting outside after a long day alone? If not, don’t get a puppy. Consider something that doesn’t need as much attention. An older dog or a cat might be perfect!
But way too often people walk into the shelter, look at an animal through the cage door and say “that’s the one I want.” And as anxious as I am to see our pets get adopted and find a home, my interest is in them finding a forever home. A home that has time and energy and attention to give them. Not to adopt a pet to someone and find out that because it was the wrong choice that animal is now tied up outside or been dumped on someone else.
Fostering puppies and kittens as well as adult animals gives me tremendous exposure to lots of animals on a regular basis. And I’ve come to recognize those that would easily fit into my life and those that would not. And typically it has nothing to do with how they look and sometimes not even their age. Often its their personalities, energy and general demeanor. But you’ll not learn that looking at them from outside the cage.
Spend time in the selection process. Take them out of the cage. Go for a walk. Spend time playing in the yard. And watch how they interact with you, others, children, other animals, and respond to the outside world. Test to see what they know already. Do they come when called or totally ignore you. If they don’t come and you don’t have a fenced yard, your very next thought should be how am going to deal with this over the next several days, weeks, or months that it will take to teach them to come when called. Because until they are responsive, you’re going to be spending a great deal of time walking them for exercise and potty breaks rain or shine. Are you ready for that?
Take the time to get to know your prospective pet before making the commitment. This will give you some indication of what to expect when you get them home. And don’t feel like you have to rush into a decision. This animal you’re adding will hopefully be with you for their lifetime and as such taking extra time to ensure you’re making a wise choice will pay off with years of happiness.