Something’s missing, and you can’t tell what it is.
You go to check the corner of your house, leaning over the couch to peek at the open space beyond it. You open all the bedroom doors. You pace, digging deeply into your brain to figure out what you should be hearing, and finally the answer springs into consciousness like kid on a Christmas-Day trampoline.
But are you sure it’s the right time? And if it is, where should you go? You might even be freaking out, wondering how you’re even going to keep a creature living and breathing once you bring it home.
Relax. We’re going to go through the whole checklist of new pet questions: when to get one, where to get it, and how to keep it healthy once you’ve got it.
When Should You Get a Pet?
Let’s start with when you should definitely NOT get a pet.
You should not go out and get a pet on a whim. If you’re in the “one day I want one, one day I don’t” camp, you probably should wait. Pets are a responsibility, although a rewarding one to be sure.
Many people don’t fully appreciate the responsibility of being the sole caretaker of a living creature. With a pet, you have to be conscious of its eating and bathroom schedule, and if you want to leave town you either have to bring it or make arrangements for someone to take care of it. Your housing options (if you’re renting) will also be much more limited.
On the other hand, if you’re prepared, you can give yourself the green light. Here’s how to know you’re ready for a pet:
- You know how you want to train your pet (if it needs training)
- You know (relatively) how much being a pet owner will cost you
- You have a plan for who will take care of your pet when you leave or are unable to fulfill its basic needs on a given day
Those are only a few small things, but if you have them in place, you can move ahead and bring in a new family member with very little reservation.
Generally, people get pets because they have something to give (love, affection, energy, etc.). This is a good way to look at the whole thing: if you feel “filled up” in some sense, a pet can be a great recipient of that overfill, but if you’re looking for the pet to fill something in you, you may potentially be disappointed in the cost of owning a pet versus the rewards—down the line, if not at first.
Where to Get a Pet in Florida
There are an abundance of rescues in Florida. Of course, there are plenty of other ways to get pets: pet stores, neighbors and friends, etc. We’re going to focus on rescues here because
- There’s a genuine need for pet adoption in our state (and everywhere).
- Many pet adoption websites and services are very well-organized and can help you find exactly the type of pet you’re looking for.
RescueMe.org is a great composite site for adoptable pets across the country, and you can narrow your search down to the state level. If you’re looking for dogs, you can even search by breed and sign up for email alerts when a dog of that breed is added to the site.
There are so many other pet rescue organizations in the state. Check these out:
- Florida Little Dog Rescue Group
- UnderDog Rescue of Florida
- JaxAnimals (North Florida)
- Pet Rescue by Judy
- Save a Life Pet Rescue
Parallels Between Your Health and Your Pet’s
Once you’ve decided on a pet to bring home, you’ll have to deal with keeping it healthy. There are the typical neutering or spaying procedures, but beyond that there are several things you can do to maintain good health in your pet—and they’re not so different from the way you maintain your own good health.
Find a vet or clinic that you trust and bring your pet in for preemptive check-ups at least annually.
Not only is exercise incredibly healthy for pets, it also may be the single most important ingredient for training dogs, followed by discipline and affection.
Specifically with dogs, if you don’t have the discipline to take them out for regular walks or runs, going to dog parks is a great way to hack the exercise problem. You and your dog enter a fenced-in area where other dogs are playing, and you let your pet loose. It’s very fulfilling to watch them run around and enjoy the company of other dogs, and you can even get a few things done as you sit and watch.
As sad as your wallet may be, the cheapest pet food available is simply not going to be the best for their health. Ask your vet for suggestions on healthy food options.
Pets are incredible additions to the family, but they don’t come without responsibility. If you’re looking to bring an animal home on impulse, it’s probably better for the both of you that you reconsider.
However, if you’re up for the challenge, if you have a lot to give, and if you have a plan in place for how to take care of the critter, you should be able to lay aside your hesitation, go out, and get it. Try out the rescues we’ve listed here and save a life.
Then once you’ve found the perfect pet, treat its health similar to how you would treat your own. Get it regularly checked, feed it well, and take it out to exercise.
May your halls be filled with happy barks, meows, chirps, and scuttles.
By: Ryan Drawdy
May 10, 2017