In these days of instagrammage and posting for Facebook likes, it’s hard not to follow the trend. But is an animal ever an accessory? Or even simply a faithful watch- hound, to be chained in the backyard as reinforcement of a sign that reads ‘Beware Dog’? Perhaps something to give the kids so they’ll stop their whining for a week? Should we not, instead, consider these creatures, so loyal, capable of so much love and affection, as our very own animal companions? A commitment to hold and to cherish ’Til Death Do Us Part? So before you take the plunge, and bring that adorable, wrinkly puppy or oh-so-soft kitten into your home, here are a few helpful tips to consider.
A pet is not an impulse purchase.
The expression ‘puppy-dog eyes’ ain’t something for nothing. It is hard to resist the urge to march into the petshop with those playful critters in the window display, pleading to be taken home and cuddled. But please, do resist. A dog is deserving of your unconditional love. No easy feat with these juggling lives we lead. A cat, meanwhile, may seem like the low-maintenance option, but remember they are quick to roam too young, and if you live on a busy street, you may need to take certain precautions and be extra mindful of your environment for the safety of your new addition. Perhaps rather consider the demands of your life first, the limitations of your surroundings, and join the Facebook page of your local animal welfare charity. When you are ready, your perfect fit will find you.
To each her own.
As much as you may love a certain breed of dog, your lifestyle may not accommodate the demands of the animal. Certain breeds, such as Yorkies or Dachsunds, while cute as a button, are known for having dental problems and require regular veterinary attention. Huskies, while beautiful, are infamous escape artists. Collies, meanwhile, like to be put to work and require a great deal of exercise and stimulation. So do your research first.
Spend now, spend wisely, save later.
Do not spend a fortune on an animal, only to be unable to afford the necessary inoculations and sterilisation. Or any vet bills that may arise at a later stage. You would not forego the medical attention of a child. And an animal is no different. They are now in your care. Skimping today may cost you dearly later when your animal companion falls ill. You will only have yourself to blame if you could have prevented it.
To breed or not to breed. That is the question.
There is something to be said of a beautiful mix-breed. Elements combined in a comical or magical fashion. Dogs who have had a hard life are often the most forgiving in nature too. The indigenous dog of Southern African, the Canis Africanis, is famously known for being not only well suited to our climate, but with an immune system that weathers most storms. Of course, there is always the exception. But if you are set on a particular breed, make sure you are not supporting a puppy mill. A good breeder will not hand over a thoroughbred that is younger than 8-10 weeks as pups only begin to wean off their mothers at around 6 weeks of age. A veritable petshop will similarly not sell you a kitten younger than 6 weeks.
When in doubt, seek out advice.
Find a vet you trust, discuss your needs and your lifestyle. Perhaps there are small ways in which you can adjust your lifestyle in exchange for the joy an animal will bring into your life. Likewise, your local animal welfare will have staff at the ready to advise you. They have come to know their rescues and their particular needs, like whether or not they get on with other animals or are good with children. Perhaps visit the welfare to walk the dogs on the occasional weekend. Perhaps you bond with one. Perhaps you don’t. Only time will tell.
Date Published: 05 February 2016