Happy, Healthy Pets
In the August issue of Downhome, you'll find flea-fighting advice from a veterinarian, as well as health-promoting products for your pets - made right here in Newfoundland. But insuring you have a happy, healthy pet should begin before you even own one. Sadly, some pets are purchased and brought into a loving home only for its owners to discover a different breed or different type of animal would have made a better fit. Many of them end up at a shelter, where the love is just not the same as what they receive when they're part of a family.
Here are some tips for adopting a pet, offered by Jessica Rendell (founder of Heavenly Creatures, a no-kill animal rescue organization in St. John's):
Make good matches. If introducing a new pet to an existing one, try to adopt an animal that is similar in age and activity level, says Rendell, adding that young, hyper pets tend to be a torment to older animals. And, she says, the same goes for owners. "We have elderly people contacting us who want to adopt kittens or puppies, and when you think about it that's not really fair because the odds are the animal will outlive them."
Calculate all costs. Make sure owning an animal is feasible for you. Some insurance companies offer pet insurance, so a hefty vet bill won't catch you off guard. Rendell says before purchasing pet insurance, do your research on the company to ensure the money will be there when you need it. Another option, she says, is to make monthly deposits to an account you've set aside especially for future pet costs. This way, you can be sure the funds are available if needed. And if your pet doesnt require expensive care, the money is still yours.
Research the breeder. If you're interested in adopting a pure bred, seek out the opinion of your local kennel club or veterinarian on breeders in your area, says Rendell, adding that some are just not legit. In some cases, breeders have duped unsuspecting families into buying expensive animals that are not, in fact, pure bred, she says. And a word to the wise: Rendell says "no reputable licensed breeder would sell their animals to a pet store when the pet store is going to re-sell them without any kind of screening process."
Have patients. "Animals do go through an adjustment period, so don't freak out in the first few days if the dog is chewing up your sofa or peeing on your floor. A lot of animals will forget their manners in the first few weeks of being in a house, because they're going through the period of learning where the door is to go out and trying to get into a routine," says Rendell.
Examine your lifestyle. As much as we love them, sometimes the busy lives we lead just aren't conducive to owning a pet. At the very least, your lifestyle will help determine what type of pet is best for you. If you're the outdoorsy type, enjoying long hikes in the wilderness, you should look for an active breed of dog that will be happy to accompany you. If you work most of the day and prefer staying indoors, an adult cat might be a better fit. People who travel should decide who will take care of the pet while they're gone (or determine if their furry friend can tag along) before accepting an animal.
Discuss with family. It is imperative to make sure that all members of the household want to adopt a pet. Before adopting, arrange for each family member to spend time with a similar breed, to avoid unexpected allergy problems in the future. If you have young children or plan to start a family, do your research to find a breed that will fit well with your little ones. And even if Fido or Fluffy is for the kids, be prepared to assume all responsibilities for him or her, from walking and feeding to training and changing the litter.