Written by Yumitra Kannan
I’m a 90’s kid who grew up reading Famous Five and watching Clifford the Big Red Dog. It’s hardly a surprise when I tell you that I’ve always wanted a pet dog. The idea of having a furry friend who loves you unconditionally, who will guard you from danger and run around with you ⎼ matching that explosive energy of youth ⎼ all seemed like a pretty good package to a younger me. Yet, my parents could not be convinced to add a member to our family of five. We’ve had a pet dog on two different occasions and both are no longer with us – one got kidnapped while the other was sent away after getting too temperamental to handle in a house full of children. Almost a decade has passed since but the yearning and desire to be a dog owner has hardly died off. If anything, it has only gotten deeper as life passed by, showing me that everything is so fleetingly temporary and that having a pet would be a nice constant. So, I got a German Shepard Pup.
Having a pet is no easy task. In fact, until exactly a month ago, my idea of owning a pet was based on novel stories and perfectly trained pets we see on screen. It was neither realistic nor in depth and all. The unexpected truths of having an animal companion hit me hard this past few weeks, and I feel obligated to relay all these new information to as many pet pursuers as possible. Pet owners have to accept change like the very air they breathe and take all necessary measures to be thoroughly prepared for the biggest responsibility in life – a kid who will never grow up! The following applies for all kinds of pets as these are general factors that one must consider before ‘D-Day’.
Getting a pet is equivalent to having a child – your whole life changes, most importantly, the way you spend your time, your routine, schedules and priorities. You have to incorporate your pet’s routine into your own daily commitments; tasks like feeding your pet, giving them physical exercise, love and attention all become factors to consider on a daily basis. This new change of looking after your pet, especially having to keep a close eye on them during their younger years can get really exhausting ⎼ keep in mind that for your pet you are their whole world, unlike your own life which is a mesh of other elements. You are committing to bringing up another soul, it’s only right to consider carefully and adjust accordingly.
We do not realise how accustomed we are to having things run our way at home until a stranger walks in and changes things up. For a person who could not handle having guests over for too long without getting frustrated. Think about having all things not being in place or how rooms are no longer as clean as they used to be, having a pet is like having someone claim your space as their own, and you have to deal with it. Your pet’s living space, boundaries and the cage should all be pre-decided before the little one moves in. Whether you’re going to keep it inside the house or outside, its limits for exploration and how you’re going to handle the sticky floors and thin blankets of fur are all decisions you should have a clear idea about.
As hard as it is to accept, some people have allergies that can flare up dramatically within the vicinity of a furry friend. Allergies to fur are quite common among people. Hence, it is responsible to get the necessary tests done for all family members before committing to a pet. Some may just sneeze occasionally and have itchy eyes while others can suffer more seriously. Better to be safe than sorry.
The first few months of having a pet and even up to a year is similar to a confinement period where you have to be home for as long as possible in a day to look after your pet until a more stable and less dependent routine is established. The simple luxuries of life like catching up with a friend over coffee for long hours or a spontaneous outing has to be strategized to fit the new addition in the family. You could also be required to put a pin on bigger plans like travelling for a few months, depending on the pet you get and their needs. This change in lifestyle may bring you down emotionally and we encourage you to prepare for it by thoroughly researching the specialised lifestyle changes that take place when you get the pet of your choice. Note that grown pets are different from babies who need you more.
Essential, essential, essential! Some pets need to be trained and housebroken in the first few months of ownership and this requires both significant time and money so brace yourself! Professional training, lots of reading up and addressing every little issue with your pet requires a lot of effort, observance, patience and perseverance from your side.
Thoroughly research, read up and ask experienced pet owners and vets on the diet you should put your pet on as this crucial part of owning a pet can either make or break its life. Some pets tend to have sensitive digestive systems or hereditary diseases which can be prevented by meticulously monitoring their consumption and altering it to fit your pet’s requirements and nature. A lot of freehand advice will be offered but always clear it with professionals or in some scenarios, follow your instincts.
This is a no-brainer when getting a pet, so make sure that you have a few vets who are close to home who can take home calls and are experienced and certified. Be ready to spend and listen to professional advice while balancing it with the vibes and unspoken information your pets give you. Know that your pet is mortal and can fall sick. You have to be emotionally ready for such situations and must be able to deal with it with a clear head.
While there are lots of factors that need to be carefully considered before this big decision is made, don’t let all the technicalities intimidate you. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Things won’t be easy or even the same but when your furry friend loves you unconditionally, protects you and feels safe with you in return and gets excited merely at the sight of you… it’ll all be worth it.