Dr. Risser's Column: December 2007

Dr. Risser's Column: December 2007

Most everyone knows that pets make poor gifts; yet each April, many puppies (and kittens) that were so joyously greeted at the holidays get dropped off at shelters or rescues. The reasons are many: Too expensive to keep, too much energy, too destructive, too hard to train, too much shedding, too much barking. Essentially, too much puppy (or kitty).

Getting a pet should be a decision one arrives at after considerable thought & research; definitely not easy to keep in mind when faced with large-eyed faces and wagging tails at the local shelter or pet shop. There are many, many details to take into consideration. Do you live in a 3-bedroom house with a couple of fenced acres, or a 1-bedroom apartment that has a weight (or breed) restriction on what sort of dog you can have? Before you begin your breed search, have in mind a particular size and temperament of dog that you will be comfortable handling. Are you a bit of a couch potato, or do you jog or walk regularly around your neighborhood or on trails, even in inclement weather? Dogs have been bred for generations for certain characteristics, like a strong herding instinct, or chasing game for miles. Those breeds will need an outlet for the instincts that have been bred into them, like agility classes or another hobby. Have you the time & patience required to obedience and house-train a puppy, or would you prefer to adopt an older, somewhat more settled dog? Even older dogs that come from shelters or rescues will often need obedience or settling training done to resolve the problems that often send them to the shelters or rescues in the first place.

Another consideration is cost of care; itís a common euphemism in the pet care field that the most expensive years of a petís life are the first, and the last. After a puppy is selected and settled, the real care starts. Giant breeds need more food than a smaller breed with less growing to do. Puppy vaccines, training, and spay or neuter follow one upon the other for at least the first 6 months. Training should be continued and advanced as your dog gets older to keep in practice and prevent boredom.

As expensive and time-consuming puppies and kittens may be, with the proper effort as younglings we can help them become a truly pleasant companion for life. If you are considering adding a new canine or feline member to your family this holiday season, please feel free to call our office for some advice or help with choosing a breed that should work well with your situation.