It's so exciting to think you'll soon be bringing home a new addition to your family!
No, I'm not talking about a baby: I'm talking about a pet.
Adopting a pet is a life-long commitment. It is an extremely rewarding experience - not only will your pet become a part of your family, but it has been shown that pets improve our lives in so many ways ... there are even health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and more exercise. Consider these things before choosing to adopt a pet:
Your family's activity level. If your family is the type that goes hiking often you will probably want a pet that you can take with you. If your family tends to stay at home to relax, a cat or a low-activity dog may be better for you.
Pet size. Is your home, yard, and car big enough to accommodate a large-breed dog? Are you able to physically handle a large dog? Do you have any physical conditions that may prevent you from exercising or caring for your pet?
Your schedule. There's no doubt about it: dogs require far more time and effort than cats. Cats are wonderful for people who like the companionship but don't have time to walk a dog everyday or let it out every few hours to do its "business". Consider exercise needs, need to regularly eliminate, feeding, training, and attention.
Coat type. Generally speaking, long-haired dogs and cats will require regular grooming either by your family or a professional groomer. This can be very time-consuming (not to mention expensive!).
Your budget. It's back to the money thing again ... Just keep in mind that large dogs also require large amounts of food. Another consideration is long-haired pets that may require regular trips to the groomers.
Kitten or cat, puppy or dog? Baby animals are cute. They're marvellously intriguing ... and a lot of work. If you do not have the time or the patience to train a new kitten or puppy, consider adopting an adult. Adult dogs and cats have plenty of love to give and will bond to their new people.
Where you live and go on vacation. If you are renting accommodations or going to college, keep in mind that there places that no not allow pets at all, while others allow small dogs or cats but are extremely resistant to larger breeds. There may also be restrictions on the number of pets you may have. The same thing goes for vacations: if you would like to take your pet with you, you will find it easier to find accommodations that will allow small pets.
Your lifestyle. Are you always travelling (business/pleasure)? Is someone at home for a good part of the day, or is everyone always on the go? If your pet must spend most of its time alone, then you likely won't be able to provide it with a suitable home at this time.
Do you have kids or family members with special needs? Some breeds of dogs have known tendencies to bite. Others are known to be extremely high energy dogs who require a great deal of attention and exercise, such as border collies. Young children in particular place restrictions on the type of dog you can get. You will also need to be able to properly supervise your children and dog at all times.
Has everybody in the family must have agreed to getting the pet? It is heartbreaking when pets are turned into shelters or abandoned because someone in the family did not want it.
Does anyone have allergies? Spend time with different types of pets if you can. Regardless of claims that a dog or cat is "hypoallergenic", find out for yourself before you adopt. Dogs and cats both produce dander, which people can be allergic to.
Please DO NOT adopt a pet as a surprise gift. Many pets are turned into animal shelters every year because the recipient of the pet did not want it. Pets have thoughts and feelings just like we do and it is frightening and confusing to be dumped at a shelter.
If you want to give a pet as a gift, please bring the recipient of the pet with you to choose one for themselves. Or ask if you can purchase a "pet gift certificate" that would allow the person to select a pet when they are ready.