So, You Have or Want a New Family Member? A Dog?! A Cat?!

Written on January 27, 2010 – 6:01 am | by maxine |

 

I will never forget coming to live here in the Ark.  One extremely hot summer’s day in June 2001 Bob (that’s the head two legger in the Ark) saw me with my litter mates in a box just outside a grocery store.  Two little girls were trying to sell us and it was so hot nobody was even stopping to look at us.  But Bob did!  To make a long story short, Bob and Andrea (his daughter) raced home and begged Mrs. Noah to let me come to live in the Ark. That very afternoon they took me to a vet to make sure I was OK, and the next thing you know, I was HOME! 

Trust me, Mrs. Noah doesn’t normally recommend this way of adopting dog or another pet.  It turns out I was the runt of the litter.  But, with lots love and care I grew to be 55 pounds – actually much bigger than even the vet expected who thought I would be about 30 pounds at the most!  In fact, the vet on that afternoon must have been very hot himself because he didn’t even know for sure what breed I was.  He said to consider me as a “rescue” pup.  What the girls told Bob was definitely NOT what I turned out to be.  When I was younger I needed lots of walking and running time and it turns out I have hip problems and skin issues, oh yes, and some allergies. These are some of the reasons Mrs. Noah always says to do your homework before choosing a pet.  Thankfully, my family did not surrender me to a animal shelter when I got so big and they gradually found out my health issues.  Unfortunately, a lot of people do abandon the poor doggy that just grew and grew and grew, or ate and ate and ate, or barked and barked and barked, or chewed and chewed and chewed, or . . . .!!

When choosing a dog, or a cat, remember – it is a long time commitment, for better or for worse.   Maybe you already got your dog before you did your research and you are wondering, “Now What?!”  When you get the answers to the questions below, don’t dump your new family member at the nearest animal shelter just because you don’t like some of the answers!  Just like when you bring home a new baby, nobody knows who you really brought home – there will be lots of surprises, adjustments, need for flexibility and learning going on for a long time.  With work and commitment, you can overcome what might have appeared to be a mistake and end up with a loving friend and companion.

So, get some good books or look on the internet.  Look at several sources to get a general consensus of opinion because you just never know, some authors can be biased against the exact breed of dog you need!  Mrs. Noah’s son has absolutely hated since he was a little boy, with a passion, a particular little breed of dog, one of which bit him as a toddler.  To hear him tell it, they are ALL vicious and not to be trusted.  It doesn’t help that one bit him clean through his finger just last year!  Anyways, find the answers to:

1.  What breeds are there and what appeals to you about them?  Remember, if you are looking at a mixed breed dog, be sure to check out the characteristics of both breeds.

2.  What size will your favourite breed grow to be?  Is there enough room in your home for a BIG dog?  Just so you know, a St. Bernard or a Great Dane probably will be much too big in a 1,000 square foot home or apartment, especially without a yard to play in!  And little Jack Russell Terriers can literally climb the walls in a little place.

3.  Does the breed shed hair; need lots of grooming; require frequent trips to a hair dresser?  Is it prone to body odour?  As a golden retriever/border collie cross I personally never need a hair cut but I do shed.  Coby, who is a Lhasa/poo needs to be cut about every six weeks and the hair around his eyes needs trimming even more frequently.  He gets lots of baths because he is low to the ground and white in colour.  To save lots of money, Mrs. Noah and Andrea cut his hair and our toe nails, and even the nails of all six of the felines living in the Ark.  Can you see yourself doing this type of care?  Can you afford to have it done by someone else?

4.  What is the temperament of the breed?  Some are naturally high strung and need lots of activity, which is great if you are able to take your dog along with you wherever you go, but the pits if you leave your pooch alone all day when you go to work, the children go to school, and then you are all out all evening and weekends!  You might need a quiet, laid-back dog who doesn’t really need a lot of attention.  Does the temperament of the breed match the temperament and lifestyle of you or your family?  Don’t get a couch potato dog if you like to hike through the bush!

5.  Can you afford a second or third dog?  Yup, that’s right!  Some of us crave companionship of another animal.  You need to get another dog!  By nature I am a herd dog and need at least one other dog to take care of.  So, they got Coby for me!  In our neighbourhood, lots of families have a big retriever mix type of dog and a little Bichon or Lhasa/poo dog that look just like little sheep!  I also have six cats to herd – what a job but hey, someone’s gotta do it!  Many small breed dogs just get plain anxious and lonely without another warm body to play and to lay with while you are away.  Coby is my white shadow!

6.  Find out what type of food your dog friend will need.  Some need a high protein diet, some need vegetables and grains, some can’t have grains or dairy.  So, you can’t just figure on buying the cheapest grocery store brand because it just might make your new friend very sick!  In fact, if the top of the list is grains, grain middlings and corn, and it contains meat bi-products, it probably WILL make your dog sick!

7.  What about health care?  Some breeds are pre-disposed to certain health issues.  Mine have been handled with supplements and herbal remedies, but, what if your dog or cat needs more?

8.  Do you have time and patience to train a new puppy, or would it be better to give a new home to an older dog you can find at a pet shelter?  Getting an older dog can be a win win situation because they are already trained, are calmer than a puppy, are longing for love and are ready to love you right back!

9.  Do you have young children?  Some breeds, like me, love children and will watch over them carefully and gently.  But, some are aggressive or jealous, or just don’t realize that little children can get hurt easily!

10.  Is there someone who is physically challenged or elderly who might get knocked over by a big and very active dog?  Or perhaps trip over a tiny one?  You may need a mid-sized pet!

11.  You are looking at a 10 to 20 year commitment since that is how long most dogs live. If your son or daughter is to be your dog’s friend, is there going to be someone left at home to love and care for your dog when your child heads off to college or university?

12.  Who is going to take care of the dog – feeding, bathing, walking, caring for their teeth, brushing?  It better not be the little seven-year-old who pleaded with tear filled eyes.  Yes, children can learn responsibility and lots of skills but, it is a big commitment and their resolve or interest might not last beyond a few months.  Usually an adult has to come alongside to help the child learn over a period of many years!  Believe me, it will be worth it all in the end.

Now that you have the answers to those questions, you have the knowledge you need to be able to understand your pet and their needs.  Take your time.  Remember, it can take two leggers a long time to get to loving their pet.  It can take a matter of hours for a four legger to know they are in love with you and they are home!

Mrs. Noah and her family have discovered over the years that  with good care and using common sense in their care, dogs and cats can live a lot longer than most pet books say.  And, that doesn’t mean having to buy expensive food, treats and veterinary care.  In fact, there are LOTS of ways to cut the expenses and to keep your pet healthy and happy.  But, that’s content for another blog!  I am off to have my bath now.

Until next time,

Sandi

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