There are a number of reasons why we choose to adopt a pet: to get some company, to take care of it, to make physical activity, because it can help us reaching a specific goal (e.g. hunting, assisted intervention, rescuing…).
But at the moment of the adoption, or rather before deciding whether to adopt the pet or not, we should stop and consider all the different needs we will have to be able to satisfy once it becomes a member of our family.
First of all we have to choose a species: dog, cat, bird, rodent, reptile, fish or other animal species.
Too often people think that an animal who lives in tank or a cage is less demanding and “less social”.
Rabbits, Peruvian guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters or birds like parakeets or parrots need to go out of their cage and explore the environment they live in. They are also able to create a social relationship with the people in the family and they can be taught some skills or games to solve.
Another wrong commonplace is that a cat is less demanding than a dog. If we stay out many hours a day for work, we cannot think a cat feels good in isolation; it needs social interaction, attention and time too.
For some cats it is fundamental to explore the outside environment and be able to hunt: does the environment we live in satisfy this need?
environment we live in satisfy this need?
After choosing a type of animal, we can choose a race, evaluating the different needs in terms of food, environment, physiologic features, hygiene, etc. There is a clear difference between a poodle and a Great Dane, but are we sure that the poodle, though smaller, is less demanding? A very small chinchilla, for example, needs to be brushed on a daily basis.
When we decide to bring a pet into our family, we should first of all be aware that this creature has needs and that it is our responsibility to satisfy them. This implies costs in terms of time, energy and money. Are we ready to invest in these terms?
The whole family will have to agree upon it. And we will have to plan its holidays too; knowing if we’ll bring it with us or if we’ll have to entrust it to a kennel.
After considering all of these aspects, we can adopt our new friend.
Before we introduce it in the house, we must get the environment ready: provide the right food, contact the vet doctor for the preventive plan, decide the place it will rest in, enrich the environment with appropriate objects and toys (environmental enrichment).
If other pets are in the house, the inclusion will have to be gradual and safe.
Children will have to be involved, taught how to interact correctly with the new family member and empowered in taking care of it, depending on their age.
Once the pet has been adopted and included in the family, it will be our responsibility to assure a long and peaceful cohabitation and not let it lack anything, neither attentions and cuddles, nor care, hygiene and health. Just like any other family member..