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Are You Really Ready to Adopt a Pet?

It always happens. Every time you see the picture of a cute little pup or furry little kitten, you ‘awww’ and ‘oooh’ and you just want one! You can’t help but pet each dog that comes your way while walking on the street and you bring tasty treats for your friend’s pets when you go visiting.

Every time a pup licks you or a cat rubs against your leg, you think it’s a sign telling you to get your own. But hold your horses! (or doggies, or kitties, as you might prefer). Adopting a pet is about a lot more than signs or gut feelings or even desires.

We’re not discounting desire as a factor in bringing home a pet – it is important – but there are other factors that are much more important. Many owners have fallen prey to the misconception that the ‘I-just-saw-him-and-fell-head-over-heels-in-love’ feeling will see them through the 15 odd years they will spend with their pets. Adopting a pet is quite a happy thought. However, it needs to be turned into reality. You need to give owning a pet a lot of thought.

The following points make it easier for you to judge if your decision is really sound, read it through and answer each point honestly to reach a conclusion.

What's your reason for adopting?

Adopt for a reason that will last, since that will determine how healthy and enjoyable your relationship will be. Reasons like momentary loneliness, boredom, or curiosity might not be ideal, since these conditions will pass. You need a reason that will keep for many, many years to come.

Do you have time?

Having a pet in your house requires a good investment of time, and it can't be put on a schedule of maybe one hour a day. When your pup is young, you will have to spend a lot of time with him, training him and getting him used to your home. When he falls sick, you’ll have to be by his side. And, you should give them this time gladly, not just out of obligation.

Adorable KittenCan you afford it?

Adopting doesn't just involve the cost of adoption fees. Taking care of a pet comes along with a series of expenses – good food, grooming, hygiene, toys, changes to your house, regular vet visits, medication, and what not.

What is you lifestyle?

Do you live in a place where you can share space comfortably with a pet? If you live in a condo you might feel cramped and your neighbors or landlord might object. Also, if you work late nights, have a baby, travel a lot or have an erratic schedule, a pet might not fit well into your scheme of things.

What happens if something goes wrong?

Feathers DelightWhat if you get sick or you have to leave the pet alone? Do you have someone you can count on to help you out? Becoming solely responsible for another life is a big decision. You will need some kind of help (friends, relatives, friendly neighbors) or at least the financial means to hire such help.

Will you commit?

The most important question: Do you think you can love, cherish and take care of your pet for as long as he lives? I repeat – as long as he lives. This is quite a responsibility. If you’re going to adopt a pet, you will need to promise yourself that you will take care of him to the best of your ability. And taking care of a pet is quite a task.

If most of these questions make you reconsider your decision, don’t lose heart. It’s all for the best. Visit any animal shelter and you will notice that most of the animals are there because their owners didn’t think of all these questions, got carried away by their feelings and took the animal home, only to realize a year later that they couldn’t handle it. It is a highly insensitive act – to willingly welcome someone into your home and then turn them out – especially someone as helpless and innocent as a poor little dog or cat.

All these factors are just as important if not more as what ‘kind’ of a pet you want to have. For instance, dogs require exercise, some, at least an hour every day. If you live in an apartment in the city and you don't like to walk, this becomes unfeasible. Even a tiny and active little terrier is more suited with owners who have the time to give it exercise and play with it.  But don't think a cat is any easier... well it is, since you don't have to walk them, but they do need play time, and attention, and although they have this reputation of being independent, they crave company and they need it to be healthy and happy.

Welcoming a pet into your house and your life can be one of the most enriching experiences you ever have. However, thinking it through is very important. When you bring a pet home, it's just as having a baby – every decision you make thereon affects you and your pet in equal measure. It's a living being who you will share a good part of your life with... but oh, what a fulfilling life it will be.