I always wondered how to pick a pet. Right now my husband and I have two cats, and we didn’t pick either of them. One was given to me by an employee who couldn’t keep it in her apartment and the second was found on the street and brought to our door.
What do the experts say? Veterinarian Paul Johnson drew a picture for me of what people see when they look at a group of puppies.
“People see three types of dogs when they look at a group of puppies,” says Dr. Johnson. “The number one group runs to the front, jumps up and licks your face. You think ‘Oh, this puppy loves me.’”
“The second group hangs out in the middle. They are not sure if your visit is a good or bad thing. And that third group hides in the back. They are the scared group. And you think that maybe the poor puppy in the back, who is scared, could work out.”
Who should you pick? Dr. Johnson says that the number one group that is coming to you is telling you that he will be the boss. He is the dominant personality and will want to be upfront all the time.
The dogs in the third group, those in the back of the pack, will turn out to be fearful. Every time he is in a new situation he may bite out of fear. His behavior becomes unpredictable. According to Dr. Johnson, toddlers in particular are most likely to be bitten. They are on eye level with the puppy, and they are not trained to understand signals the dog sends, like when his ears flap back. The toddler doesn’t understand when they should back off from the dog.
Families should pick those dogs in the middle who have a healthy skepticism of a new environment. This is the type of dog who checks out the scene before he comes to you.
Dogs you have to walk and feed at regular time. But in general we think cats are easier to care for. After all a cat is self-reliant. And we can be gone for 48 hrs and they won’t mind. But we forget that different from dogs, cat can invade in our environment. Cats will climb on that Christmas tree you have in the living room.
SMALL CAGED PETS
Hamster, guinea pig or gerbils. The smaller the pet less likely it is to be cuddly. You may consider getting a rabbit which can become part of the family. With small caged animals the plastic balls in the cage work well for exercise and you don’t have to walk them. They do have shorter lifespan 3-5 years, so there is no long time commitment.
Fish are not social and are easy to care for.
Many birds are bright and social, but they can be messy. If you buy a bird be sure to place the cage in active part of home. Birds are social and they want to be part of the family, and they want to be included in the family activities.
Dr. Johnson told me that when he visited child care centers, many times he would bring a rat to show the kids. They kids loved them. It was the teachers who stood there in horror. Rates can be great pets and they can be social. They just have a bad reputation.
Many thanks to Dr. Paul Johnson, veterinarian with the Animal Health Center in Middletown for sharing his expertise.