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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Finding That Perfect Pet

Sep 01, 2014 04:48AM ● By Donna Gleason

Bringing a new pet into your home is a serious decision and a big responsibility. It’s about taking the time to prepare for a future commitment that could last up to twenty years. Being well informed increases the chances that your pet will remain with you in a forever home. How do you begin to prepare for finding that perfect pet and what should you stay away from?

Avoid the “Fatal Three” Adoption Reasons

“My pet was an impulse decision”: It has been statistically proven that those owners who take their time to research the specific traits and characteristics of a new pet tend to be the most satisfied with their choice. Those owners who run out and make a decision on a whim tend to be the least happy and have the highest rate of owner surrender/return.

“My new pet was so cute. How could I say no?”: It’s very hard not to make a choice that is based on looks when in a room of many adorable puppies and kitties. However, this is a time to think with your head first and then your eyes. Stick to your list of desired traits and characteristics when picking out your new pet.

“I felt sorry for my new pet”: Trying to decide which pet is best for you by using your emotional side is like standing at a dessert buffet with no idea of what would make you happy. Leave your emotions at the door and make all decisions with using the logical side of your brain.

Personal Inventory and Preparation

“Most of the adopters that come into the shelter really don’t know what specific characteristics they are looking for in a pet. Most know what species [dog or cat] they want but that’s all. Many times, it becomes the staff’s job to ask the right questions. This way, when matching a potential adopter with a pet, we get it right the first time, reducing the chances that this pet will be returned to the shelter at a later date,” says Meg Turner, shelter manager at the New Fairfield/Sherman Animal Welfare Society.

Before you contact the shelter or breeder about acquiring your new pet, it is important to take a personal inventory of your current lifestyle.
Other Pets in the Household: Do you own other pets? Consider the needs of any established pets in your home before bringing another pet into your home.

Energy Level: Do you prefer to run in the mountains, watch reruns of old movies, or are you somewhere in the middle? When there is a conflict of energy between you and your pet, resulting frustrations could cause tension on both sides.
Time Commitment: What is your daily schedule? Do you have time in your daily schedule to take care of a new pet? How long will your new pet be left alone? The answers to these questions are critical to the overall happiness of your new pet.

Cost: According to ASPCA’s pet care costs, the average annual estimate for raising a cat is $1,035 and the cost for a large dog is $1,843. Make sure you are aware of the extra financial obligations that come with owning a new pet.

There are 39 types of purebred cat breeds recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association, 180 types of purebred dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, and a multitude of mixed breeds of both species. How do you begin to narrow down the search to figure out which pet would be best suited for you and your family?

Pick a Species: Typically dogs are considered loving, loyal and social animals who thrive in the presence of humans and other dogs. Most dogs require a time commitment in terms of grooming needs and daily opportunities for training and exercise. Cats are typically considered graceful, playful, sensitive and affectionate. Did you know that cats are considered the most popular pet in the United States? Unlike dogs, cats can be very independent.

Pick a Breed: Most dog breeds evolved from a specific job that they have been designed to do. Cat breeds were developed mostly for companionship. If you have a specific canine or feline breed in mind, make sure you research the breed in depth. Don’t forget that mixed breeds often-times are a potpourri of their DNA history and may have less medical issues since their gene pool is much more diverse.

Pick an Age: Getting a young dog requires a lot of energy and direct supervision from their owners. Senior dogs typically thrive better in quieter homes and may need less exercise. Senior dogs may require more healthcare than their younger counterparts, but the love they share is worth every penny. Kittens are typically playful with much energy. Kittens, similar to puppies, need direct supervision to keep them out of trouble. According to the Humane Society, one interesting fact about kittens is that you will not know what kind of cat you will end up with until she outgrows her kitten personality.

Bottomline: Before going out and getting your new pet, do the research, approach the process with a logical plan and, most importantly, have fun. Bringing home that pet who is a perfect match for you and your family will bring years of love and enjoyment for all.

Donna Gleason, owner of TLC Dog Trainer, resides in Sherman. She is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and IAABC certified dog behavior consultant (CDBC) with a master’s degree in behavior modification. She offers professional in-home dog training and group puppy/basic obedience classes. For more information, call 203-241-4449 or visit See ad, page 63.

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