How much is that doggy in the window? Or better yet, how much is it going to change your life? Whether you are single in the city or married with kids in the 'burbs, adding a pet to your family is a major decision that goes way beyond their adorable furry faces and slobbery kisses. It's really hard to resist the snuggly wonder of a new puppy or kitten, but before you take the plunge, remember that pets require a huge commitment, both financially and emotionally. Take a long, realistic look at your family and its different personalities before you bring home a new pet. If you are the type who forgets to water the plants, then maybe you're better off with a lower maintenance pet like a fish. Do you like furry pets but don't have a consistent schedule? Opt for a guinea pig instead of a dog. Spend a little extra time now to help you make the right decision for you and your family and its new furry friend.
Sarah on "delayed gratification"
"Hardly a week goes by without my son's campaign for a dog. Even my husband gangs up on me sometimes, but with my youngest not even one yet, I know we are far from ready. At least I know I am far from ready! I'm realistic enough to know that I'll be the one walking the dog in the snow and the rain and I'm just not ready to add it to my plate yet, but it can be so tempting. Instead, I keep telling my son that we'll pick the right dog for him when he's 10 and can help me. In the meantime, I have him researching the different breeds to keep him interested but off the "I want it now" syndrome."
Alicia on "trying it out"
"My husband and my daughter are both dog lovers and I'm just not interested in having a dog right now. But instead of taking all of the blame, I suggested that we try out their pet parenting skills with a low-maintenance pet first. We opted for a goldfish, since it's about as easy as you can get. That way, I can see how diligent they are about care and maintenance on a smaller scale before we jump in and get a dog. They're still working on their skills, so it looks like the dog has moved to the back burner for now."
Here's what to think about if you're considering a pet:
1. Finding Mr. or Mrs. (Furry) Right.
It's not just about dog vs. cat, since there are many different types of pets to consider before picking the right one for you. Consider your family's needs before making a final decision. Do you want a pet that will join you on family hikes or are you really looking for something lower maintenance that can be easily left with a neighbor when you go to Grandma's? Consider any allergies or health concerns, since many types of pets have fur that can aggravate allergies and asthma.
2. Determine Distribution of Labor Ahead of Time.
Whether it's changing the kitty litter, feeding the hamster, or walking the dog, there are many new tasks that can be added to the household's chore list once you bring a new pet home. Sit down and have a family meeting and divide up the chores so one person isn't taking on the brunt of the work. It's overwhelming for one family member to do it all and if you determine ahead of time whose responsibility it is to cut fresh veggies for the bunny, there will be fewer frustrations and fights down the road.
3. Keep it All Together.
Remember how your kindergartner needed paperwork stating he had all of his shots before he could start his first day of school? Well, pets require the same kind of paperwork. You'll need to make an annual appointment to keep the vaccinations current and in order to obtain a license from your local town, you'll need proof. Keeping it all together in one place means you won't have to tear through various files to figure out if Bugsy had his Bordatella shot.