Adopting a pet is probably one of life’s greatest joys. But before you choose to make that life-changing decision, you must sit down and think it through. That’s easy, you think. You’ve always loved them, you go out of your way to pet random dogs and call out to the stray cats making funny noises, causing other people to stop and stare. But living with them is a whole new ball game. So before you take an impulse decision of bringing a furry friend home, these are the things you definitely need to consider.
1. Sit down & make a list of what you expect from your pet.
Wait, what? Is this for real? Yes, it is.
After years of handling adoptions at the shelter, we have met people who return after a week, and say, “He barks too much, he is too naughty, he growls at the maid,” and then there are people who say “he is too quiet, he doesn’t bark, he doesn’t even dirty the house, he also allows us to give him a bath very easily.”
To prevent disappointments, for you, the animal & the shelter team, first sit down & make a list of what you want from a pet. Although, it is highly unlikely that you will find a tailor-made pet, it always helps to communicate with the shelter team about your expectations, so they can match you with an animal that could be somewhere close to your dream pet.
2. Take a look around you, the house you live in.
Is it an environment that is conducive for a pet to thrive? Is it a tiny apartment? Or a house with a big courtyard? Do you own the house? Or do you have to hide your pet from the landlord? It always makes sense to check with the landlord whether he/she is okay about you having a pet or not. After all, it is their house at the end of the day and you really don’t want conflict and trouble in your little pet paradise. If the landlord is not okay about pets, wait till the time you can move to a pet friendly accommodation, before bringing home a pet.
3. Roommate woes
Whoever you are living with, whether it is family, friends or room mates, it always helps, if everyone is on the same page. Are all of them equally excited about the possibility of sharing living space with a new furry member? If yes, then will they share responsibility of pet duties? It always helps if you have a cooperative brood who will all contribute in the upbringing of your pet. If there is someone who has an allergy, real or imaginary, then it isn’t a great idea to bring home a pet until the time you have that sorted.
If you have children, dedicate your time and energy at introducing the two to each other, and teaching the children on how to behave with the pet, discouraging rough play and always supervising their interactions. never tell off your pet or punish your pet for growling. Growling is your dog telling you to back off, a warning of sorts. So pay attention for a smooth transition for your kids and pets.
4. Tick-tock, on the clock
It’s time to look at your schedule. Do you work long hours? Taking a young pup or kitten isn’t the smartest idea then. A big myth that exists in most minds of new adopters is that ‘ Adult pets cannot adjust.’ And so irrespective of their work schedule they take in a pup. Big mistake. First, the pup needs attention and care, with shorter intervals between meals and toilet breaks. If you cannot accommodate this, then you are better off bringing in an adult dog who will love you with the same passion, without the hassle and responsibility that comes with puppy care. The only regret you will have with your older pet is all that time you have already lost , without her in your life, wondering why you didn’t find her sooner.
However, if you have the time or the support to manage a young one, then by all means adopt one. At any given point of time, there are thousands of shelter pups and kittens awaiting their chance of a loving home and a happy life.
5. Breed Conscious
Now this is a subject of great debate and we can write essays on it, but it would suffice to say that rescued is our favorite breed. However, it’s a known fact that indies lead longer lives, have fewer genetic ailments , and make perfect canine companions.
If you nurse a soft spot for a specific breed for some reason, then go to your nearest shelter and look around. Pedigrees are abandoned a dime a dozen for the most ridiculous and frivolous of reasons, and shelters have a fair share of them awaiting their second chance at life.
Also, take time to understand the varying needs of each breed related to exercise, temperament, behaviour and food intake, and make an informed choice. ‘The neighbour has it’ should never be your reason for picking a breed.
6. Ka Ching! The big M
Do you have the financial ability to cope with all the bills? Giving the best to your pet doesn’t come free of cost, and that’s why it’s best to understand your financial situation before bringing the pet home. Vet bills, grooming, vaccination, toys, accessories, nutritious food, boarding expenses, and the list goes on , which can all end up increasing your financial woes.
If you are going through a lean period, then its best to wait for a while until you can plan your finances to accommodate another mouth to feed, one that is hungry at all times.
7. Moving Cities
If your job involves frequent moving to different cities or countries, then put some thought into how you will manage to move your pet along with you. It isn’t an impossible task. There are people who have done the same, moving across continents and braving it out until their furry family is at home with them. But if it’s something you cannot see yourself doing, then maybe it’s best to settle down first and then bring a pet home. There are many pets who are given up when people move and they usually find their way to shelters, heartbroken & desolate. You wouldn’t want to add to that.
8. Health talks.
Before you take home your adopted pet, discuss the medical history if any with the shelter team, verify and collect the vaccination and deworming records so you can continue the prescribed schedule without any hiccups with a vet of your choice after the adoption is complete.
9. For better or worse.
If you have sorted everything else out, ask yourself one final time, if you think you have the commitment to give this new member of your family, the best, under all circumstances, for better or worse, in sickness & health, and till death do you apart. Because, the pain of abandonment is already something your pet has experienced once before in his life. Going through it another time would be devastating for him. Take your time, visit the shelter, socialise with the animal for a few days, get to know him or her, before you finally make that life-changing decision.
This post was authored by Dr Mansi Jaysal, Managing Commitee, CARE and featured on The Better India.http://www.thebetterindia.com/91411/pet-adoption-care-dogs-cats-shelter/