(Part Two in a Series)
In our last column we talked about the reasons why you should, or shouldn’t adopt into your family a dog (or kitty). There are just a few more things to cover. I know that you don’t want to think about the negative things right now. You want this to be a very happy, memorable time for you as a family, and for the new addition. And that is just as it should be. But to make the right decisions, you have to know the darker side of obtaining that wonderful new family member.
So, when you have finished reading this article, please check the link below on PUPPY MILLS AND PET SHOPS. It is a need-to-know article.[PGAA comment: Visit snowyswan.com/puppy-mills] Now for the fun. You ready?
Once you have decided on the type of pet you want, PLEASE go to a registered society that supports that breed, and EDUCATE yourself and your children, to the animal, its expected size, abilities, talents, energy level, personalities, and where to buy your new friend. This is the only way to have a good beginning and experience for you, your children, and the wonderful NEW FAMILY MEMBER. The most important quality that you will receive from any pet is unconditional love.
THE DAY IS HERE!! Now it is time for you and the children to go, and pick out the new wonderful friend hat you will take home with you. You have decided on the breed, you have found out where the best, most healthful place to buy him is located. You load up in the car, and with wild anticipation, away you go. Right? Wrong! “But we have done all of our research like you told us to do”, you lament. Yes, and I’m proud of you. Be proud of yourself, YOU have made a difference in the wonderful world of animals everywhere. But, if you were expecting a human baby, would you bring it home with no preparation? Of course not. So we still have some work to do here. But this is some of the fun work. This will help to build the anticipation of the new family member that you are ready to love and care for. This is where the “ memory book”, of loving experiences begins.
O.K. lets have a family counsel meeting. Kids, we have important things to decide now. Here is a list of things to be discussed, and decided upon, of course with your parents guidance, before you run out for that new family member.
Where will the animal sleep? You have a bed of your own, and a room too. So it is important that your new family member have the same. They will come to know this as “their place.” And this will bring comfort and security to the animal. It is important to pick an area that is safe from family traffic, drafts, and noise. This will be first the nursery of the “baby”, and like a nursery, you want to make it as safe as possible. Look around, and imagine the pet in a year, or five or ten years. Is this where they will still be comfortable?
Next, look to see if it is safe. Are there wires that a new “puppy” can teeth on? Believe me, if dangerous objects are there, they will attempt to chew on them, and you can’t watch them twenty four hours a day. So it is best that you just make sure that there are no extension cords, wires or outlet plugs that a kitten or puppy can get too.
Alright now you have picked “the” spot for the nursery. What are they going to sleep in? Of course that will first depend on what type of animal/bird you get. But for puppies, a bed. Now is where your investigation of the breed comes to bear. Consider how large the dog will become. Remember that animals are creatures of habit just as we are. So get a bed that will more than accommodate them in adulthood. We will cover how to fix it up for that tiny puppy or kitten, in a minute.
Picking out a bed is simple right? Wellllll, not really. Here too, there is a lot to be considered. Will it be just a cardboard box? No, that is definitely not a good idea. So lets make a trip to the pet shop. Unless you have a list, and you have made up your mind in advance, this will really cost you. You will be so excited that you will buy, buy, buy. There is no need to go into debt at this stage. Believe me, you will have plenty of time for that later. Here is a list of things to consider when buying a bed.
- Size of dog/cat when full grown.
- Where in the house you will put the bed.
- Safety of the bed/bedding. What is the covering, can it be chewed? What is the fill? Are you sure that it isn’t toxic?
I want to share an experience that I had with you.
When I got my dearest love, Alexandria, who happens to be a Doberman female human/dog, I lived in a third world country. Needless to say, there was no PetSmart or anything like it there. So, I bought a bassinet that was hand woven by the Native Indians of the country. It was pretty large. I had just recently purchased four beach towels that were supper sized, and very expensive. Home we go, Alexandria, 8 weeks old, bassinet and a proud parent. I fixed the bassinet up with a queen sized blanked on the bottom so that it would be firm, but soft, and comfy at the same time. I had a collection of stuffed animals, so I picked one that would be slightly larger than she was at the time. I also had an old (only type you could buy there at the time) alarm clock. The kind with the loud ticking. I put the stuffed animal in the bed and hid the clock under the stuffed animal. I put her bed right by the side of my bed, so that, if in the night she woke and became frightened, all I had to do was reach my hand down and comfort her.
The first night I carried her upstairs with me, she was too small to navigate the stairs by herself, and put her in the bed. I took one of the beach towels, and covered her with it. For some reason she seemed to “know” that this meant, “go to sleep now”. Long story shortened, about four months later when I decided that she just couldn’t curl up in a tighter ball for sleeping, I decided to take the bed away. In it’s place I put a remnant of carpet from my office, and I used another of the beach towels to make a circle to simulate the basinet. I thought that she was doing fine, until about three days later, I found her in the spare room where I had put the basinet, with all legs sticking out, and her, huddled in the middle of the small basinet. I know 11 years later she still misses that basinet. But guess who is still the proud owner of all 4 beach towels. Of course, Alexandria. They are hers for sleeping, and she isn’t embarrassed to let you know it either. The moral of this story? When you purchase the bed and bedding, remember that your pet will have a memory, and they will build their security in the things that you provide for them, now.
Now you can go to the china department of the Pet store. How big will your pet become? You will want dishes that are big enough to accommodate them. Also, how you plan to feed them, and what you plan to feed them, will govern what you buy. By now you already know what your breeder, Humane Society or Rescue Society recommends for a diet. But one thing is for sure. All animals need WATER, more than food. Not that either should ever be in short supply, however; you will want a water container that is large enough to hold plenty of water, and one that you can easily and conveniently wash out DAILY. This is very important to the health of the animal. A bacterium grows in standing water. Add to that the saliva of the pet, and you have a great breeding ground for bacteria. So DAILY wash and change the water in your pet’s dish. If they are large animals, and drink a lot of water, be sure that you check it several times a day. This will help preclude kidney/bladder/urinary tract problems. Also a note here. I use real distilled water for my pets, just as I do for my family. Who knows what is in the water supply these days?
Now you are going to need a collar and what is called a “choke chain.” The collar will stay on the pet all of the time. And it is to the collar that you will put the rabies tag and identification tags. The “choke chain” is only used in training and then VERY carefully. They both have a certain fit. The collar should fit tight enough to allow two fingers between the collar and the neck. Loose enough for room and yet not so loose that it will easily slip off and get lost. For cats, I prefer the break away type of collars. This is to insure that if the collar gets snagged on a limb when climbing, (if you allow them outside, which I don’t recommend) it will not hang the cat, but open to allow the cat to safely escape. There are many colors to choose from. Next the “lead” or leash. Most people buy the leash to match the collar, but the choice is yours, and this is your fun time. I, again, personally don’t care for the retraction type of leash. I don’t like them for training purposes. You end up concentrating more on how to work the leash than on the training of the dog. You will learn that cats, at least most of them, do not like leashes.
Now there are toys galore. Make sure that the toy is appropriate for the type, size and age of the animal that you are going to adopt. If you are going to get a large type dog, as puppies they do a lot of chewing. A very soft plastic or rubber toy is not necessarily the best. Many a puppy has had to go to the vet’s office to have plastic removed from the stomach. A number of very serious, painful and sometimes devastating events come from toys that are not appropriate.
O.K. We are ready to go home and fix the living space for your new family member.
Thought to remember:
“God gave us the animal in love, to care for and attend with love.”
Read Part 1 – “TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY”
Watch for Part 3