Are You Ready for a Pet?

First she was slinking around the alley behind the house. Cautious, curious, a bit thin, she sniffed around the perimeters of the fences that defined the backyards of the neighborhood. Later, she peeked out from under the minivan next door, a soft-looking white and gray beard rubbing up and down the tire. She mewed and it was all over. With that small cry for attention, she immediately found a new home.

And she was so sly about it. Once in the house, she settled upon the bed of the three-year-old, a surefire way to establish roots. Keep the cat or listen to ear-piercing protests for the next couple of weeks. “I want Sophie!” And with the three children immediately banded together against the parental units and embarked on selecting a name.

Sound familiar? Have your littlest family members requested the addition of a pet?

Before installing a dog run, or investing in a 65-gallon lighted fish tank, there are many things to consider.

First of all, what are the people like in your family? Factors such as age and temperament are important to consider. For example, a very young family member might not be so gentle with a new puppy or kitten that has fragile bones. Likewise, a very outgoing child might quickly grow bored with an animal that is not so active, such as a turtle or a goldfish. Does anyone have any allergies or other health issues to consider? Are you a family that travels often, causing a pet to be left home alone? For information about appropriate pets, here is a website that offers information on how to choose a pet.

Second, what type of house does your family live in? Do you have a yard, or a space for a larger, active pet to play? Do you own nice furniture that you would like to keep in good condition? Do you have a spot where you can tuck away a litter box, or other things you would not want little ones to play with?  If need be, is there a place nearby where you and your child can walk a pet?

Finally, have you really weighed the pros and cons of pet ownership? Pets offer companionship, unconditional love, and a way to help children develop empathy. They also help develop a sense of responsibility when your child is tasked with helping to care for a pet. On the other hand, ensuring your new family member is well cared-for ultimately falls on you. Are you prepared to help out? Can you afford the costs? This site provides a calculator to help determine the average yearly cost for different types of pets.

Pets certainly have a lot to offer, but deciding to adopt a new family member is not a decision to be taken lightly.  As for Sophie, she spends her nights curled up next to the aforementioned three-year-old. She is doing well.