Most everyone wanted a kitten or puppy present as a child and seeing it in the movies or commercialized made it look so dreamy. But what wasn’t advertised was a year later when the dogs were being dropped off at the shelter because it didn’t fit in the families current lifestyle or being dropped of in the middle of the street in hopes someone else will pick it up.
As a pet sitter, a pet caretaker I don’t see the latter often but I do get cries for help when families realize they’ve taken on more than they can handle. I totally appreciate their cries, at least they’re asking for help and not giving up on their furbaby.
I’m all for going as a family, adopting a pet during the holidays, but only after a full inventory of expectations of each member is discussed. And ONLY after each family member knows how much work a puppy or kitten is, and how much money needs to be spent on vet check ups, flea/tick/heartworm prevention, PUPPY and KITTENS GET OLD AND REQUIRE A LOT OF CARE AND PATIENCE DURING THE LATER STAGES, you will have to face euthanasia or death of your pet, does the pet or breed fit your lifestyle? etc
So you’d like to adopt a pet for the holidays? It really is a magical time to bring in such a beautiful blessing. So here’s my list of “firsts” before making such a commitment:
1. Is everyone living in the household on board? If so make sure everyone is aware of the following as well.
2. Depending on the age of the puppy it will need to go potty as much as every 3 hours to assist in potty training. Is there someone at home regularly to help with potty training and behavior training as well? If not, are you able to afford a pet sitter or trainer in your area to help while you’re gone?
3. Do you go on vacation a lot? Cats are more self sufficient but need care at the very minimum every other day, so while you’re away can you afford or budget a pet sitter? Dogs require at the minimum 2 visits a day, make sure you can add it to your vacation budget.
4. Litter scooping, feeding time, and dog walks are the most fought over chores….after behavior issues. So make sure there’s a schedule for all to share the chores…after all this is a family member, a family matter. Not a solo job, even children should be involved.
5. Many shelters and rescue agencies work with a trainer. Ask a lot of questions about continuous training.
6. Breed Breed Breed and Personality Personality Personality: Breeds don’t mean as much as personality. However both are important. Some breeds a bred to be very active, some are bred to be floor mats, some drool a lot, etc. You need to know what to expect more or less. Take the entire family to the agency, let the children interact with the new pet. Do you already have a pet? Interact the two together BEFORE adoption to make sure they can live together.
7. Those puppies and kittens will become geriatric sooner than you think. Know you will be caring for an older pet that has many accidents on the floor, that may not be able to walk up or down the stairs, or may get a serious condition that requires a larger budget. There are great pet insurance companies, definitely suggested to look into them. I’ve had a few clients tell me they wanted to adopt their pet out because they can’t euthanize them for guilt reasons. Totally understandable, but selfish. It’s an internal fight but we must remember these pets are our family members and our responsibility. If we understand this when we bring them in to the family it helps during the tough times.
Again, adding a pet to the family during the holidays is a magical thing, they just aren’t presents. They’re family members and should be treated as such. And adopting a pet is even more magical than going to a breeder. Take the entire household to an adoption agency, go home, talk about the above, and then go back the next day or so after you are all in the know and ready.
The best present ever for the adopted pet is a knowledgeable adopter. The best present ever is the family time at an adoption agency, signing the papers and knowing what comes next.