Sure, they are cute, can provide sometimes-needed companionship and offer a conversation piece among other young professionals at the local dog park, but are you ready to become a pet parent? Don’t be so quick to decide until considering the following factors…
Make sure you want a pet for the right reasons
Sadly, some people do end up pet-owners for the wrong reasons. Though we would like to think such behaviour is reserved for yappy dog-obsessed high school girls with parents willing to take it over once the shine wears off, don’t buy an animal because you think it is trendy or will be better for your image. Yes, we have seen it happen. We have also seen young professional couples get animals almost as a “baby with training wheels” to test out the idea of becoming “parents.” While this theoretically may seem like a good idea (and we know you know at least one couple guilty of this) we have seen the animal tossed to the side to the homes of parents or siblings once a human baby is born and the burden of both becomes too much to handle.
Be realistic with your schedule and time commitment
Pets require time for walks and other exercise as well as quality time spent with their owners. If you can’t commit to being home twice a day for appropriately spaced walks (or a reliable dog walker), you may want to consider a cat over a dog, which requires less maintenance. If you travel frequently for work or play, make sure you have the appropriate plans in place to accommodate this before your pet arrives. This can range from a pet-loving network of friends and family members eager to take your dog or cat for a week or weekend, to a healthy bank account to afford dog-sitters or boarding facilities for the duration of your trip. In terms of commitment, remember that you are making a life decision, with the average life of cats between 15-18 years and the average life of dogs 12-13 years.
Pets cost a lot of money, and it isn’t just in pet food, obedience school and dog walkers. In the event that your dog or cat gets sick, we have seen hefty veterinary bills financially drain loving YP pet owners. In terms of a pet, then, it is imperative that you indeed have those rainy day savings set aside in the unfortunate occurrence that your pet ends up with a sickness or medical emergency. Again, think in terms of long-term financial stability and factors that affect this. If you plan to return to school in a few years (and to the resulting student budget), perhaps it’s best to wait.
Make sure your place is pet-friendly
Although it should go without saying, if you are a renter, first and foremost make sure that pets are allowed in your unit…and don’t try to pull any fast ones on your landlord either or you might end up having to part with your new furry friend. As obsolete as your landlord may seem, if you have a pet, odds are that he or she will quickly find out no matter how sneaky you are in concealing it. This issue aside, even if the biggest and most dog-friendly parks in the city surround your tiny condo unit, make sure you have enough physical space within your living quarters for an animal. If you and your SO are already practically living on top of each other (not in that way) then a mid-sized or large dog (and dog bed and feeding station to scale) is not going to help. Finally, know necessary adjustments to make your place more pet-friendly. If your collection of shoes resides at your front door, you are going to have to make a habit of locking them away in a closet if you ever want to wear them in one piece and bite mark free again.
Do your research
Be very clear in the type of animal that best suits your life. Get an animal that reflects your energy level. If you are super laid back, maybe a high-energy dog like a mixed lab isn’t for you and you may want a more relaxed dog like a Beagle. If your new companion is also going to be jetsetting along with you, get a smaller dog (with a smaller carrier) that is easier to transport. Make sure to check the dog’s health thoroughly, no matter if you get it from a pet store, breeder or animal adoption service. Check for joint issues and decaying teeth and make sure that the animal has a healthy-feeling coat with bright and shiny eyes. Trust us, this will save in vet bills and heartache down the road.