Our springer/cocker mix, Mary, died in the spring due to cancer. Our household is emptier without her. Her happy personality, enjoyment of people and the outdoors, her comforting presence is greatly missed. We needed time to grieve. Now, we feel ready to add another dog to our family.
How does a person know when the time is right to adopt a pet?
That all depends on the person. I’ve known individuals and families who have lost furry friends and never adopt another. I’ve also known people who missed their animal so much, they took hardly any time to bring home another pet. Only you know for sure when the time is right.
Whether you’re considering adding another dog or cat to your household as we are or if you’re looking for a pet for the very first time, you should do some preparation, not only mentally but physically. For example, make sure your house is ready to welcome a furry friend. If you’re looking to get a cat, make sure you have a litterbox and cat litter, some catnip mice and other toys, and a climbing/scratching post as well as food, water, and dishes. Therefore, when you bring Kitty home, she’ll have all the basic things she needs right away.
The same goes for a dog. Do you have toys, food, pans for the food and water, a dog bed, collar and leash? Do you have a yard and plans for exercising your pup? Are you mentally prepared for the responsibility of caring for a dog?
September is considered Dog Ownership Responsibility Month, a time to remember that pet owners are responsible for the life and care of their animal. Ownership responsibility is EVERY DAY of EVERY MONTH. Therefore, the very first thing you need to recognize before adopting a pet is to accept that responsibility for the animal’s life. blDo you have time to properly care for a pet? Are you willing to spend time, not just feeding and watering your dog or cat (or whatever type of pet you have), but engaging with the animal, exercising, exploring, playing, even sitting on the couch and watching TV. Know the activity level of the pet you’re considering; if it’s a herding or hunting breed, like a border collie or springer spaniel, that dog will need lots of exercise and engagement. If you’re considering adopting a cat, you don’t have to walk it or go to the dog park, but you should still plan playtime, especially for a kitten or young adult.
If you have other pets in the house and are looking to add another, as we are, make sure the animal can accept coming into a household with other animals. And, have a plan of introducing, say your new dog to the cats in your household. Our home includes two elderly cats and a middle-aged shih tzu. We have experience introducing a new dog into the household; we adopted Mary in 2013 and had the cats then as well as an aging cocker spaniel. Mary’s laid-back personality and the fact we brought the elderly cocker with us to meet her helped make the transition easy, even with the cats. When we adopted Jeremiah, the shih tzu, he and Mary spent time in the car and in a hotel room together, helping to seal their bond immediately. We introduced Jeremiah to the cats slowly, intentionally, and within a few short months, the household was peaceful, although anxiety reigned for the first few months. That’s to be expected as everyone gets used to each other.
There’s a lot to think about when considering bringing a pet home, whether it’s your first adoption or your tenth. There are many resources, including pet adoption checklists, that you can review and may find helpful; find a few below:
When should you adopt a pet? Whenever you are ready!
September can be considered Pet Ownership Responsibility Month, with the American Kennel Club designating Saturday, September 8, as Responsible Dog Ownership Day.
What does pet ownership responsibility mean? First, it means more than simply providing food and water to your dog or cat. Not doing that basic is illegal and is called neglect. But, is it neglect if you only provide food and water and don’t provide attention and interaction with your dog, leaving him or her on a chain under a tree all day? In some places, yes, in other places no.
For those of us who love our pets, it’s a no-brainer to provide them with shelter from wind, rain, snow, and heat, and to interact regularly with them – sitting on a couch watching TV, taking walks and hikes, playing with toys, going for drives, etc.
How can all of us be more responsible pet owners? Hop over to this article posted on the American Veterinary Medical Association website and learn how we can be more responsible toward our furry friends and how we can educate others how to be as well.
Pet owners don’t need a special time to honor and celebrate their pets, but during the month of September the American Kennel Club and other organizations remind owners that dogs are a major responsibility and these groups honor dogs and dog owners in various ways.
National Dog Week is generally observed the last week of September; it's a time when dog owners and various organizations honor dogs. William Judy, who started Dog World Magazine during the 1920s, first set aside this special week as a way to celebrate those special creatures most consider “man’s best friend”.
The American Kennel Club (www.akw.org) honors both dogs and owners during Responsible Dog Ownership Days. The AKC is hosting a major event in North Carolina on September 19, and various AKC chapters will host activities highlighting the joy (and responsibility) of owning a dog throughout September. People and organizations can register the many activities they do with their dogs to impart responsibility. To learn more, visit http://www.akc.org/events/responsible-dog-ownership-days/.
Dogs are fun, dogs are loyal, and dogs are a major responsibility. Sadly, many people ignore that fact and treat their dog like a commodity instead of living, breathing being. That's why we have so many dogs in shelters, thousands of which are killed every day in those facilities. Pet ownership irresponsibility is also why there are so many animal rescue organizations that try to find new homes for abused, unloved, unwanted animals. People need to realize and recognize not everyone needs to, or is cut out to, have a pet. If you can't/won't take care of a dog or cat properly, which means providing it not just food, water and shelter, but also love, loyalty, and attention, then DON'T GET ONE! Get a plant or a pet rock instead.
I have had pets since I was seven years old. I didn't always understand the major responsibility it took to have a pet, but as an adult I learned that responsibility, and I love and appreciate the animals in my care. They bring me joy, companionship, and devotion; they lift my spirits, comfort me when I'm sick, and stick by me when I've felt alone and abandoned by human beings. I am thankful, so very thankful, for my pets!
I enjoy sharing the lessons dogs (and cats) can teach us, and I share many of those lessons (of life and faith) in the books I write and the presentations I give. Dogs and cats have served humankind for thousands of years, from rodent control to family and property protector. Native Americans and other cultures used dogs to transport loads (prior to tribes getting the horse). Still today, dogs serve people in a variety of ways: herding and protecting flocks; finding fowl in the field; guiding the blind; assisting wheel-chair bound individuals; rescuing lost children; and bringing smiles to those in hospital beds. And, still people mistreat, maim, and kill these precious living creatures out of evil, spike, and sometimes just a lack of knowledge. Education and empathy are keys to stopping the cruelty and neglect people still inflict upon dogs and cats, and other animals.
May those of us who cherish and appreciate dogs take time to do something to honor and celebrate canines this month. May we also take time to educate others, especially children, to be kinder to animals and to be responsible pet owners. Consider attending a special event near you for Dog Ownership Responsibility Day and take family members and friends. And may we all do our part to help animals in need by helping rescue groups and shelters in our communities. National Dog Week and Responsible Dog Ownership Days can be the catalyst for positive change in how our society views and treats animals.