To Pet or Not To Pet

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Debra Shelton]

As a kid, do you remember begging your parents for a dog or cat, a hamster or a tank full of fish? We loved the idea of romping with a dog or cuddling with a kitten. The thought of having a special companion who loves you no matter what, who you could confide your deepest, darkest secrets to, someone to help ease us through the awkward stages of growing up.

Fast forward 40 or 50 years. Pets still offer that unconditional love and affection we all seek. Studies show pets have a positive effect on our mental and physical well-being. More and more they are used for therapy and as support companions. They provide a calming presence during stressful times and give us something to focus our attention on besides ourselves and our circumstances. Their total dependence can give you purpose and an opportunity to interact with the world around you.

Before rushing out to the local pet store or animal shelter, there are important things to consider. Do you have time to devote to the care and maintenance of an animal? Will a new furry friend fit in with your lifestyle? Do you have the means and space to provide proper care for a pet? And lastly, are you ready to commit for the long-term? Almost sounds like marriage, doesn’t it!

Some pets are easier than others. A longhaired Golden retriever is going to require grooming, walking, and lots of heavy, expensive bags of dog food. Minature pigs make fun pets (we have an article about that in the next issue). Mini-horses are fun, too. Easy to care for and you can even dress them up! Do you have allergies or can’t abide pet hair on your clothes and furniture? Maybe a hairless cat or chihuahua, a bird that talks, or hairless guinea pig (yes, there is such a creature) is for you.

Whatever pet you choose, be mindful of the commitment you’re making. Investigate all the possibilities, talk to your local animal shelter and other pet owners, interact with pet breeds you’re considering. Consider your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule to see how a pet would fit in. Think about what’s best for the animal and yourself in the long run.

Consider that younger pets do best with younger people. Kittens and puppies have a lot of energy, and require a lot of attention. Senior pets tend to work better with senior people – they’re more mellow, make calm companions.

Whatever pet you choose, be mindful of the commitment you’re making. Investigate all the possibilities, talk to your local animal shelter and other pet owners, interact with pet breeds you’re considering. Once that’s done, look at your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule to see how a pet would fit in, and think about what’s best for the animal and yourself in the long run. Being a pet owner is a two-way street filled with joy, sorrow, exasperation, and laughter. Sounds a lot like being a parent!