At some point, whether you're a single bachelor/bachelorette or a family with children running around, you may find that you want something more in your life. Something that always waits for you to return and loves you the whole time you're there. An addition which improves everything about your from your serotonin levels to your lifespan.
This is the moment when you realize you want a pet.
I'll confess that Chelsea and I make frequent trips to the shelter and have been inclined to adopt every animal in sight. We headed to a shelter downtown last week, in fact, and were amazed at all the animals looking for a home.
SO MANY ANIMALS.
Before you go off with “pet fever” and start accumulating pets, there are a few things to think about. As the owner of numerous pets, I've learned a few lessons along the way that I will now pass on to you. For example, if you live in a condo, it doesn't make sense to get a pot belly pig.
Right off the bat, you're going to want to self-evaluate. Before adding a non-human to the family, look inward. Consider your energy level and how much time you have to spare. A rowdy dog is not a great idea if you already feel as though you are “behind the 8 ball,” so to speak. A cat, however, might suit your needs as they are forgiving and some genuinely prefer to be left to their own devices. However, if you like to travel, hike, run and visit parks, a dog may be just the ticket. For you, a cat may be only slightly less boring than a goldfish. Also, consider your current emotional state and recent events in your life. A recent breakup or death in the family may have put you in an unpredictable or temporary state of mind which could skew your judgment. Animals, just like people, are a commitment. Don't start this relationship under false pretenses. Take a few days to a week and mull it over. This may even help you narrow down your selection.
Next, look at your habitat. What are your space restraints? Assess the volume of your home and its contents. This will help you decide if there is enough room in your home for certain types of animals and their particular breeds. If, for example, you have a prized 2nd century Chinese vase on a five foot pedestal…well…a romping puppy won't be a welcome addition. White couches and long fur are another no-no. Consider how often you travel and if you have someone to assist with animal care. Chelsea and I travel a great deal compared to average families (about every other week for a few days at a time) and are lucky to have my parents nearby to care for our chickens, sheep, goats and sometimes dogs. We love to take the dogs on our trips, which is another consideration in making sure everyone gets taken care of.
Finally, consider giving a home to an animal who may have lost their first chance. Little cats and dogs can become so lost, there is no chance of finding their family. Sometimes, owners pass on and no one is around to take their animals on. And, occasionally, twelve “surprise” puppies or kittens show up out of nowhere. All of these little creatures need a place to call home. For this reason, I strongly recommend adopting through a reputable shelter with an online presence so you can check out available animals and mull it over before falling in love with one in-person.
When Chelsea and I first moved in together, we (Chelsea) made the decision to get a cat. We didn't have this awesome online service back then, so through a series of confusing phone calls and driving all over town, we wound up with a female black cat that I named Ajax and a little boy tabby I named Ulysses. It's a long story how we wound up with the boy. The shelter told us that there was a female tabby for adoption, but she had actually been adopted mere moments earlier. I did NOT WANT A BOY (male tabbies are a handful), but the thought of leaving him there after his sister was taken home and he was rejected just because he was a dude? That broke my tiny little heart. He is my buddy to this day and his life span marks the actual length of Chelsea and I's relationship. Just over ten years. And yes, he has been quite a handful! Early on he peed everywhere. Once, he peed on me…like, literally right on my back when I was laying down. That phase ended, eventually, but that goes to show that you should thoroughly investigate your situation before winding up with a tiny tasmanian devil. It's not fair to be toting and animal back and forth between shelters, so make sure you are committed before you bring one home.
Consider yourself, consider your home and consider your options. There are so many out there who need a second chance! The best part is that they have a ton of diversity in their personality. In many cases, it's more rewarding to befriend the cat that's been around the block.