How did you find your last furry best friend? Or did your friend find their way to your door when you weren’t looking? Young or old, from a neighbor or the shelter, we all have fun stories to share about how we first met our animal friends. Most of the time, we have great, long-lasting companions, but sometimes reality doesn’t meet our expectations. At Claus Paws Animal Hospital, our staff has plenty of ways to help you find the right pet for you and your family. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
When looking to find the right pet, evaluate your lifestyle:
- Do you have children?
- Are you living in an apartment
- Do you have a fenced yard that the pet can access during the day?
- How much time will the pet spend alone?
- Are you looking for a couch potato or a running partner?
- What will you budget for veterinary care?
All of these questions are very important, because it is very hard to find yourself in the position of having to re-home an animal.
Along with deciding between a bird, fish, reptile, guinea pig, cat or dog, finding the right pet means you need to decide on the breed that is best for you. Will you have time to spend brushing a Persian cat, or can you afford the regular grooming a Schnauzer will need? We generally say that dogs either shed or need to be groomed. While all pets shed in some way, there is a huge difference between a short-coated lab that needs regular brushing and a poodle that needs a professional grooming every 6 weeks. Short haired cats need to be brushed, but long haired cats need it more often or they will develop deep mats that need to be sheared off with professional clippers. (A side note – never use scissors to clip mats from near your pet’s skin – it is very easy to cause a large gash that needs surgical repair).
Once you have determined the amount of time, space and money you have to spend on your new buddy, it is important to prepare your home for its arrival. Food, dishes, and a cage/kennel/carrier are essential, and of course a litter box for a cat and safe toys (“enrichment”) for all species are also important. Here in Vancouver, WA, we also have to consider the fact that we have loads of rain in the winter (and spring, and fall…). This means either walking your dog in the rain, or having a yard big enough to throw a ball while you stand on the covered patio. A mud room or place to dry your pet off is critical – as we’ve mentioned before, it is important to clean any mud, sand, salt, etc off of your pet as soon as you are done playing.
One of the things we consider most important is the source from which you ultimately get your companion. While many people have healthy pets from pet stores, we too often see pets that are weak or ill, and clearly not the breed they were advertised as at the store. Puppy mills are common in our area. We definitely recommend looking at the shelters or going through local rescue groups. Not only will you save a LOT of money over the pet store sales, but you will be claiming a friend for life, one that knows just how happy they are to be in a loving home.
Choosing the perfect pet takes time – remember, this is a companion you may have for ten or twenty years (or a lifetime, if you choose some bird species!). Done with thoughtfulness and preparation, it will be a companionship that may outlast many others!