When you’re making a decision about whether you’re ready to provide a forever home for a dog, it can be helpful to think about it from your canine companion’s perspective. Here are some questions your future dog would have wanted to ask you.
- As a pack animal, what I want most is companionship. Will you be there for me? Will you give me affection and play with me regularly?
- Have you made sure you're not allergic to me? Check with your doctor to find out!
- Will you be able to provide me with toys so I can entertain myself when you’re not home?
- Us dogs love to get outside and explore. Will you have time to take me for walks at least twice a day, rain or shine?
- If you don't have ample time to walk me and take me outside, will you be able to afford a dog walker or will you be able to send me to a doggy daycare to play with my friends during the day?
- I love spending time with you. Will we be able to spend quality time together every day?
- Will I be able to spend indoor and outdoor time with you? Please don’t make me spend all of my time outside unless I’m a Nordic breed like a husky, in which case I might prefer to be outside!
- Do you have a safe, fenced backyard? If not, are you ready to take me for a walk every time I have to pee?
- If you live in an apartment or condo, have you checked if I am allowed to live with you?
- Will you take me to school to teach me good manners? Maybe I can learn some fun tricks, too!
- You have nice things, and I wouldn't want to ruin them. Will you provide me with appropriate chew toys to fulfill my urge to chew instead so I can avoid wrecking your shoes?
- Will you be okay if I shed or if I slobber on your clothes? Sometimes dogs can be a little messy.
- Will you groom me regularly so my fur doesn’t get all tangled and matted?
- Will you get me all the things I need to live a healthy and fulfilling life? Like good quality food and treats, a comfy bed and great toys?
- Have you found me a vet? I need regular checkups to make sure I stay healthy and happy. You should also check out pet insurance to help with expenses if I get sick or get into an accident.
Every year in Canada, about a quarter-million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters. One-fifth of the dogs and about half of the cats are put to sleep, even though up to 40% of those put down are perfectly healthy. Of course, no shelter wants to euthanize animals, but the sad truth is that many are forced to when they run out of space and other resources, or for health or behavioural reasons.
What’s most tragic is that many of these animals did at one point have a home but, for various reasons, their owners no longer wanted them. Usually the reasons have more to do with the owner than the pet. The owner had no idea how much time and effort a pet required, or realized the financial commitment was too much, or had a change in living arrangements so that having a pet was no longer possible.
Surrendering these animals to shelters could have been avoided in most cases if the owners had thought more carefully about the decision to get a pet in the first place.
Here are the top 5 reasons people give for surrendering their dogs to shelters:
- Unable to afford
- Change in situation (new baby, new partner, split with partner)
- Lack of time to train/care for pet
As you embark on your journey to find your canine companion, please be sure you can promise yourself, for your sake and for your dog's, that you won’t be dropping your new best friend off at the animal shelter in a few months or a few years because of problems you could have easily predicted.
So you love dogs, but you’ve realized you’re not quite ready to become a full-time dog-owner? Thank you for being honest with yourself! You can breathe a sigh of relief because you’ve saved yourself the misery and guilt that many people feel when they jump into dog ownership and then realize they it’s just not working – either for them or for Fido.
But don’t fret! There are still lots of ways to have animal companionship in your life. Consider these alternatives to full-time dog ownership:
- Dog-sit for neighbours, family or friends who are travelling – or just want a break.
- Borrow a friend’s dog for a walk or maybe even set a regular walking date once a week.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter – many humane societies and SPCAs have dog-walking and cat-playing programs.
- Foster a dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. This can be an extremely rewarding way to help a dog for a few weeks to a few months at a time. Most shelter and rescue groups cover the cost of food, medicine and vet visits for your fosterlings, so it won’t cost you a dime.
How about Fluffy?
Want to know why dogs drool, and cats rule? First of all, we don’t pant. And we’re more capable of taking care of ourselves than our canine counterparts. I do my business discretely in a litter box without any training or supervision needed, thank you very much.
But contrary to popular belief, I’m not totally independent and aloof.
In fact, I need:
- Your companionship. I can be happy enough alone during the day, but please don’t leave me alone every evening too! I crave time with you to cuddle, play, or just help you read your newspaper.
- Regular play sessions to keep me mentally stimulated and fit.
- Toys or a window I can look out of will keep me amused when you’re not home.
- If you don’t want me to scratch your furniture, I’m going to need a few scratching posts.
- Occasional grooming. I do my best to keep myself clean, but I’ll need to be brushed regularly, too.
- Regular cleaning of my litter box, every day. I’ll cover my business up, but you’ll have to change the litter!
- Food, bedding, supplies and health care. (Yes, I do need regular vet care, just like Fido!) Please budget for $500 to $1,500 a year, and $1,000 to $2,000 during the first year if I’m a kitten.
- Your promise to care for me as long as I’m around, which could be 20 years or more!
…or another furry friend?
Rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs…yes, that’s right, rodents can be pets too – and we’re not just for kids!
While we usually require less time, work and money than a dog or cat, taking us home is still a commitment. Here’s what we need:
- A clean cage with space to run around and play structures to keep us fit, like wheels and other toys
- Regular handling and interaction with people. Many of us like cuddling, too!
- Food, bedding, toys, supplies and health care. (Yes, we do need regular vet care!) Please budget for about $400 to $600 a year, and $700 to $850 during the first year if I’m a baby.
- Your promise to care for us as long as we’re around, which could be 3 years or more.