Our kids have worn us down! We are ready to make the leap into doggie parenthood. Do you have any advice for us?
Adding Four more Legs in Holliston
Dear Four More Legs,
I am glad you asked! I am sure you have heard that adding a dog to the family is a big responsibility, and just like having a child, you never know what you are truly in for until that ball of fur has arrived. Here are some suggestions to think about before taking the leap:
- Do your homework! Considering your lifestyle is extremely important. Unfortunately, way too many pets end up in shelters because people are not prepared for how much time and energy a new pet can gobble up. Ignore the pleas from the kids that they will take care of the new dog. Unless you (the adult) have the time, energy, and resources to be the primary caregiver, you might want to consider another type of pet. It’s a commitment that will last for years. Your dog could very well live for over 10 years.
- Do you have the time and resources for a puppy or adult dog? Puppies can not be left alone for long periods of time. Is a member of your family available to be home for the puppy? If not, perhaps an adult dog would be better suited for your family. Your home needs to be properly outfitted for a dog: crate, bed, toys, bowls, leash and collar, food and treats.
- Veteranarian visits should be considered. Can your family afford a large bill if something happens to your beloved pet? It’s not a pleasant thought, but one to think about when adding a four-legged member to your family. Talk to your vet about pet insurance.
- Is your family very active? Do you want your pet to participate in your family’s activities? Think about what your family does in their spare time. Are you hikers, outdoorsmen or couch potatoes? Do you vacation often and can your pet go with you?
- What kind of time can you devote to taking care of your pet’s coat? Do you have the resources to have your pet groomed on a regular basis? Regardless of size or breed, all dogs have grooming needs. Popular breeds such as Labradors need brushing (they are huge shedders), but don’t need baths very often. Other breeds need daily brushing or combing and regular cuts. If you want a cute, fuzzy dog, it will take some time and effort to keep the coat that way. Otherwise a short hair cut is in order.
- Talk to other pet owners. Get recommendations for breeders if you are considering a pure breed or a “designer” cross. You can also find pure breeds in shelters everywhere. And, don’t overlook a “mutt.” Mixed breeds don’t have some of the same issues with genetic inbreeding and health issues associated with a pedigree. Adult shelter pets arrive in many instances, already house broken and trained – a big plus on the time side!
- Are there family members with allergies in the family? Please seriously consider whether your family should adopt a pet if there are allergies. Visit a friend or family that might have the type of dog you are considering. As I mentioned in a previous column (), there are resources to help with allergies. There are dog breeds that are gentler on allergies, but there is no such thing as a hypo-allergenic dog. Poodles, Terriers, and Schnauzers are some breeds to consider for people with sensitivities.
Adding a dog to your family may be a big decision, but one that comes with unconditional love and lots of other good stuff! No matter whether I walk out of the house to get the mail, or I am gone for hours, nothing beats the greeting I get from my two dogs, Scooby and Beef when I walk in the door! It’s well worth the effort!!
If you would like to share your stories of pet adoption, or have a question about grooming and pet care, please send an email to Serena Keating at email@example.com.