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!