Continuing our adoption series, let’s consider your options. Most people know whether they are a “cat person” or a “dog person”. However, there are those who enjoy both animals equally, and that’s when the decision really has more to do with lifestyle.
Let’s start with dogs. There’s something ingrained in all of us that yearns for the companionship of “man’s best friend”. And for those of us that have made a pup a part of our family, our list of “Dog Pros” far outweigh the cons. For example, they are always there to greet you when you get home from a long day at the office – complete with tail waggin’ wet kisses! They are the first to join you on a road trip, and they introduce you to new social circles (training/agility classes and dog parks will open up opportunities to meet other dog owners). However, dogs do require a lot of care to keep them well. For example, if you work late hours, and aren’t able to provide adequate exercise and/or interaction (and dogs require a healthy dose of each!), it is likely that your loyal companion could suffer from boredom or behavioral issues. In a nutshell, dogs need plenty of time, money and affection. If you are short on any of those attributes, you may wish to reconsider adopting a dog.
Cats, on the other hand, suffer from a terrible misconception: They have a reputation for being “independent”, which often leads to the insinuation that they are not affectionate creatures. At a cat wellness seminar I recently attended, I overheard someone call kitties “the fix it and forget it” pet – meaning if you give her food, water and a clean litterbox, you are pretty much done with your pet parent duties. It’s important to note that NONE of these notions are true. Yes you will need to provide a nutritious diet and a clean litterbox, but they, too, need affection and exercise. Of course, they play differently. While an elderly person may not be mobile enough to walk Fido three times a day, a kitty is content with in-home toys (that she would LOVE to play with her human friend), providing a less intense exercise requirement. But if you are opting to adopt a cat because you think she’ll never need a cuddle or kiss, you will want to reconsider your decision.
After you’ve decided whether you will adopt a dog or cat, it’s time to figure out which breed is right for you and your family. Many Humane Societies have color coded their animals as to personality types and traits to compare with your lifestyle. Just because you like the looks of an animal doesn’t mean it will be a match made in heaven.
Beagle: Friendly and loving, this dog is a floppy-eared favorite! He’s great with kids and very protective over his family. He’s also an avid sniffer, so if you are looking for a jogging companion, this is not the pup for you. Be prepared to buy a harness to be able to walk your new friend.
Chihuahua: If you’re an apartment-dweller, but not a “cat person”, this little guy may be just right. He’s small, affectionate and gets most of his exercise just by trotting around the house. He’s not a big fan of other dogs though, so he may not be the best choice for multiple dog homes.
Golden Retriever: If you are unsure of what kind of dog to get, you’ll almost never go wrong with a Golden Retriever. Not only is he easy to train, but he’s also one of the most affable and energetic breeds. It’s no wonder that they are often service dogs because their patience and desire to please makes them ideal companions. Great with kids and other animals, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more “perfect” family pup. Just don’t forget a comb – this guy needs a lot of grooming!
Labrador Retriever: You’re probably pretty familiar with this dog (after all, he’s the most popular breed in both the United States AND Canada). He’s great with kids and is one of the easiest dogs to train. But if you don’t like a shadow, a Lab might not be for you. Their greatest joy in life is to follow you around – wherever you are, they want to be.
Siberian Husky: If you’re always on the move, and want someone that you can take on all of your adventures, then the hard-working Husky could be the dog for you. Note: While Huskies are known to be great with kids, they are NOT ideal companions for cats.
Mixed Breeds: Sometimes the pups with the best traits, the best longevity and the cutest faces are those of a mixed breed. Even though it may not be a “designer” dog, there are many, many great dogs that need your love and training that will be wonderful companions and house pets.
Siamese: If you like a chatty kitty, these mischievous characters are sure to win you over. Not only will they “talk” to you all day long, but they are active and love being around people.
Sphynx: Are you a cat person, but have mild allergies to cat dander? The Sphynx is a nearly hairless cat who is extremely easy-going and affectionate.
Maine Coon: If you are looking for a big, friendly, cuddle cat, this little lover is a great choice! Don’t let her size fool you, she’s extremely active and fantastic with children. Her heavy coat, however, can be a lot of maintenance – be sure to brush her daily.
Persian: Speaking of a luxurious coats, Persians are as pretty as they come! However, this attribute comes with a price: She will need lots of grooming. While most cats are way more intelligent than they are given credit for, this breed is especially so – combined with her playfulness, she ‘s a great choice for those looking for a kitty they can really interact with!
Hey wait! What about the “Tabby” Cat? Although they are quite well-known, “Tabby” cats aren’t a breed themselves (rather “tabbies” are signified by their markings, in the same way that “tuxedo cats” or “calico cats” are). American Shorthairs are what we are most familiar with here in the United States. They are great companions and come in every color you can imagine. The American Shorthairs are great with kids, lead very active lifestyles and love to cuddle – there’s no question why they are the most popular breed in the United States!
Now that you’ve determined whether you are ready for a pet, which pet is right for you, and the specific breed that fits within your lifestyle, next week Wisconsin Pet Care will fill you in on what to expect when you bring your new friend home! We’ll give you a new pet checklist, as well as hints on how to acclimate your dog or cat to his new environment.