Get the right pet, with the right fit, for the right reason

By Gisele Gamble
Special to The Examiner

As a pet sitter I encounter all kinds of situations with people and animals. Sometimes we see people who are in tough situations due to the pets they have chosen. One hot-button issue for me is people getting a pet on a whim.

People who suddenly get a pet without thinking about the future are setting themselves and the animal up for failure. Pets are a lifetime commitment. Never get a pet on a whim. Do your research, and be sure you are ready to commit to the pet.

Baby animals are so cute, but sadly they are victims of many of these spontaneous adoptions or purchases. Puppies are just like children; they need to be taught what they can and cannot do. Unfortunately, some people believe these puppies should come housebroken and automatically know how to act in the home and around children. When we used to take shelter dogs to PetsMart so they could be adopted, people would ask us if the dogs were housebroken.

Some parents think it would be a good idea to get a puppy for their children. It is not. Puppies are not toys for children. Parents cannot expect children to take care of the puppy, so that is one more thing they must do. Parents also need to teach children how to behave toward the puppy. They automatically expect that the children and puppy will get along and when they do not the puppy goes out the door. Puppies cannot be expected to tolerate ear and tail pulling, being laid on, or having children get in their face and be exceptionally loud. This is a losing situation, and the family and puppy will suffer.

I am writing about this because I have recently seen it. A young couple with five kids working long hours got two puppies for their children. One did not work out with the children, so they traded it for another one. I cried over this because I know the puppy that was taken away has an uncertain future. I am hoping they will allow me to help find it a good home. This puppy will be a large dog, and I do not want it to end up chained in someone’s back yard.

Animals are not inanimate objects. When you get a pet, you do not just throw it out like an old chair! They are very much like us; they can be damaged emotionally. Many people who rescue animals must work for weeks or even months to bring an emotionally scarred animal out of its shell. Sure, dogs will forgive what humans do to them, but they do not forget, and they do not deserve such horrible treatment.

We all need to learn how to treat and care for animals. Before we get a pet, we need to do some research. If an article states that golden retrievers are good with children, we cannot expect them to automatically adapt to a screaming child. Just because a certain breed is said to be good with children, it does not mean all dogs of that breed will be this way. Dogs are as individual as humans. We have seen golden retrievers act out in an aggressive manner.

Education and training are the keys to a successful life for dogs and families. Puppies and children are not a good mix unless the parents are training the children as well as the puppy. There is a wealth of books and online resources on different breeds and training.

Getting a new pet should be a positive experience. People should do their research and get a dog that suits their lifestyle. Parents with children should be sure they know what they are in for before getting a pet, especially a puppy.