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Finding the Perfect Pet

Pet ownership is a big responsibility, and finding the perfect pet for your home and family is not always as simple as taking home a puppy from the box outside the grocery store.  Different types of pets have different needs, and among dogs, and cats, different breeds have different needs.  Choosing the wrong pet can turn what should be an enjoyable experience into a stressful situation for both the pet and the owner.

Finding the perfect pet

Puppies are a very labor intensive pet

Let’s start with puppies.  Everyone loves puppies.  They’re cute, cuddly, and have that puppy smell,  and many people believe that by starting with a puppy they will have the opportunity to mold the dog’s behavior.  What could be more perfect?  In reality, puppies are extremely labor intensive.   Puppies can be expensive if you want to raise them right.  They need shots, worming, and multiple vet checks within the first few months.   Housebreaking puppies is a challenge.  They have tiny bladders, and there will be accidents.  Also, the first few nights a new puppy is in your home, the constant crying will disturb your sleep.

Finding the perfect pet

Puppies and kittens grow into dogs and cats.

Puppies, and kittens, are adorable creatures, but they grow into adult dogs and cats.  If you’re only attracted to a puppy, or kitten, your new pet will lose it’s appeal around 6 months of age when it resembles a full grown animal more than a puppy or kitten.   If you think that you will lose interest in your pet when it stops being a cute and cuddly baby, then perhaps it might be better if you volunteered your time at a local shelter or animal rescue and helped with the puppies or kittens.

Finding the perfect petOne of my children brought home a cute little 3 pound puppy that someone was giving away in the parking lot.  Our vet thought the dog was part Border Collie, and guessed that the dog would only weight about 35 pounds as an adult.  That dog weighed nearly 100 pounds as an adult.  Much larger than we wanted; nevertheless, he lived out his life with us.  If my son had selected an adult dog from the shelter, there would have been no size related surprises.

Different breeds of dogs have different needs and varying temperaments.

Finding a dog that fits into your family and lifestyle is very important.  If you are a low energy household, a high energy dog breed may not be the best breed for you.  If you love to jog, a husky might seem like the perfect pet because of their high energy level, but if you abhor dog hair on you clothes or furniture, you might need to consider another breed of dog. 

What if there are children in the home?

Children in your home can create an entirely different set of circumstances.  Children frequently run around and make lots of noise.  This can cause stress and anxiety for all dogs, but certain breeds have temperaments that may make them less suitable for being around children.  Children also need to be educated regarding appropriate interactions with dogs, and cats. 

I remember bringing a dog home from the shelter, and on the first night, I heard yelping from the next room.  My husband had stepped out of the room for only a minute, and I found my 2 year old son jumping on and off of the dog.  This could have been a disaster, but the dog only yelped in pain.  She could have easily attacked our toddler had she possessed a different disposition.    That night, I fell in love with Rough Collies, a breed I decided at that moment was the perfect pet for our family, and, then, I educated my son that the dog was not a trampoline.

Finding the Perfect Pet

Not all dogs will tolerate a small child climbing onto them. Both dogs and children need training to ensure that their interactions are safe and happy.

So, how can you ensure that the pet you’re bringing into your home will be the right one?

Begin by completing an on-line quiz that asks you several questions and helps to steer you toward a breed of dog that might be well suited for you and your family.  If you’re married, or have a domestic partner, each of you should take the quizzes separately and determine if you both have the same breed of dog on your list.  If not, sit down together and discuss your expectations before heading out to bring home your new four legged friend.

I mentioned above that I decided, based on the behavior of our new Rough Collie, that I would only have that breed of dog while my children were small.  There was just one problem with my plan.  Rough collies require a lot of brushing and grooming.  I don’t really like to groom dogs that frequently.  Fortunately, my husband enjoys grooming them regularly, so having that breed of dog worked out well for us.

There are several on-line quizzes to help you determine the right breed of dog for your household.

I love taking quizzes to help narrow down what breed of dog will be a good fit in our household.  Bringing a pet into your home is a hug responsibility.  A large dog lives on average between 12 and 12 years.  I have friends whose small dogs have lived to be 20.  When an animal comes into our home, it generally stays with us until it dies of old age.  I want to make sure that I choose wisely.

Here are some of the dog breed selector quizzes that we have used.  I recommend taking more than one quiz to get a sense of what breed might be your perfect match.

AKC Dog Breed Selector

Breed Match  Quiz by Pedigree

Dog Breed Selector by Animal Planet

Bow-Wow-Meow Breed Selector by SelectaDogBreed.com

Dog Breed Selector from DogTime.com

Dog Breed Selector by Iams

Dog  Breed Selector by Purina

I’m not sure it’s as important with cats, but there’s even an online quiz for potential cat owners.

Cat Breed Selector by Purina

Cat Breed Directory by Animal Planet

This quiz from Vet Street allows you to choose either a dog or cat in your search.

Where’s the best place to get a new pet?

Unless you’re interested in raising show dogs, and actually showing them, we strongly recommend that you check out your local shelter for your new pet.  Over the years, we, or our friends,  have adopted pure bred Rough Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers,  Cairn Terriers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Siberian Huskies, and Chihuahuas from shelters.  Sometimes, it requires more than one trip to find the dog you want, but it’s worth the wait to be united with your perfect pet.   If you’re looking for a rare breed of dog, check the internet for a breed specific rescue group.  I can’t vouch for all of the breed rescues out there, but we have worked with Southland Collie Rescue over the years, and they are a very reputable group.

finding the perfect pet

The best thing about adopting from a shelter is that at most of the shelters I have visited, your pet receives some of their immunizations, a certificate for a free veterinary check, and,  depending upon the age of the animal, most are neutered before your bring them home.   We adopted a female husky who was neutered,  had all of her shots, and we paid for her town license for a total cost of only $85 dollars.  This dog came from the Apple Valley Animal shelter a few years ago.   She’s a wonderful pet, and she’s my husbands regular workout buddy.

finding the perfect petWhat shelters are in the High Desert?

There are four animal shelters in the High Desert, and either my family, or my friends families, have adopted animals from all of them.  (These shelters are listed in alphabetical order.)

Apple Valley Animal Services.

Barstow Humane  Society

Hesperia Animal Shelter (They don’t have their own website.  This link takes you to PetHarbor.com where they list their available animals.)

The Victor Valley  Animal Protective League

If you’re willing to look outside of our area, or are interested in finding local rescue groups, you can also search for your perfect pet on the following sites.

Adopt a Pet

Pet Finder

All of these sites can help you to locate your perfect pet, and with a little advanced preparation, we hope you and your new four legged family member will be able to live happily ever after.

What’s the best thing about adopting a shelter pet?

You get to know that you changed the life of an animal that might otherwise have been euthanized.    It’s an amazing way to get a new best friend, too.

finding the perfect pet

Allergies don’t mean that you can’t find your perfect pet.

If there are allergies to pet dander in your home, check your local shelter for fur-less pets. I’m not referring to the hairless breeds of dogs and cats.  Instead, I’m referring to reptiles.  We’ve seen lizards and turtles available for adoption at our local shelter, and if you let them know what you’re looking for, some shelters will call you when they have a specific type of pet available.

Finding the Perfect Pet

Bearded dragons can live for 10 – 15 years if well cared for.

If you’re in the market for a new pet, do some research and visit your local shelter(s).  Sometimes, it’s difficult to find your perfect pet, and patience is required.  This pet will probably be a member of your household for more than a decade, so you need to choose wisely.  Also, keep in mind that any dog, or cat, will require some training to learn the rules in your home.    Starting with the right type of pet will help to make this transition smoother, so choose wisely.

If you have any thoughts or questions about finding the perfect pet, let us know by leaving  a comment below.

Check back next week for our story about the successful adoption of a shelter pet who is now living happily ever after with her new human. 

If you’re looking for more posts by Patti, she blogs regularly about simple and frugal recipes at Patty Cake’s Pantry

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2 Comments

  1. KC's Gravatar KC
    February 13, 2018    

    I agree with everything that you’ve said, but I also think that it’s better to have larger dogs when you have small children. To a small dog, all humans are giants, but to a big dog children are smaller. I think that helps them to realize that children are young. Also, small dogs are more fragile. They can be hurt by an over exuberant toddler. Big dogs are more sturdy.

  2. February 13, 2018    

    I agree. The story of my two year old pouncing on our dog proves that point. Thanks for your insights.

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