gmhTODAY 24 gmhTODAY Feb March 2019 - Page 50

Choosing the Right Pet P Written By Crystal Han ets can provide years of love and joy, but finding the right pet for you requires some matchmaking. Every animal has different needs. Just because you like a certain animal or breed doesn’t always mean that animal is the right fit for you. Often, you have to look beyond what you like and consider your lifestyle. How much space do you have in your home? How much time and money are you willing to spend on care? Do you have enough saved up to spend on sudden medical emergencies? Are you alright with dog hair in your home, or wear and tear, such as chewed power cords or scratched furniture? There are countless animals you can choose from to find a pet, but here’s a bit of information on some of the more common animal companions: Small Animals Most people think that small pets like hamsters and chinchillas would be great for kids, but these animals are nocturnal, which means that they’ll be snoozing when your kids want to play and active when your kids are sleeping. Gerbils and mice are quick and agile, meaning they’re difficult for children to handle without squeezing them too hard or accidentally letting them loose in the house. Surprisingly, rats make very loving pets due to their social and intelligent nature. All of these animals require their bedding to be changed regularly and they need toys and the occasional cage redecoration to keep them stimulated. Aside from chinchillas, which live about ten to fifteen years, the average lifespan of these animals is about two to three years. Puppies/Dogs Dogs are very social and affectionate animals. They love to be with you, which means they’re not very happy with being left alone or chained in the backyard for long periods of time. If you want a puppy, be especially prepared for a lot of time and work. Puppies need to be taught proper house training skills and basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” They also need more supervision than older dogs. Always do your research if you’re thinking about getting a specific breed of dog. Some are more energetic than others, and some are better suited for families with small children than others. The typical lifespan of a dog is about ten years or more, so be prepared for a long-term commitment. Rabbits Rabbits have a tendency to be skittish and do best in gentle, peaceful environments. A household with small, rambunctious children and a lot going on would not be the best fit. The larger rabbit breeds are typically more affectionate than the smaller ones. Rabbits need time to wander in an open environment and they usually live for seven to ten years. Kittens/Cats Contrary to popular belief, cats can be social and loving too. Although cats don’t require as much attention as dogs, they still need to be played with and loved, especially kittens. Kittens tend to get into everything, so be prepared to “child proof” your house for a while. Like dogs, different cat breeds have different temperaments. Some breeds are more social and need more attention from their owners, while others are more easygoing. Cats like a clean litter box and they might go to the bathroom elsewhere if it’s too dirty. They also need to scratch, so it helps to get scratching posts and put double-sided tape on your furniture until they learn where they can and can’t scratch. Never declaw your cat. It is traumatizing and often leads to other undesirable behaviors like biting. Cats are also a long-term commitment, with a lifespan upwards of ten to twenty years. 50 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Birds Little birds are cute and fun to watch, but they require a lot of care. They’re flock animals, which means they do better in pairs, and they’re used to having an expansive territory. They’re happiest with a spacious cage and a room that they can fly around in safely. Their cage will also need to be changed regularly. Chickens are known to be friendly and funny companions. They also provide fresh eggs that are far better than store- bought eggs, and you can always sell the excess eggs. You need a permit to own chickens and they can be a bit messy. Their coop will need changing monthly and they need access to food, water, and other nutrients at all times. No matter which pet you choose for yourself, if it’s a labor of love then all the time and money you spend on them will be worth it. Rescue animals are especially in need of love, so consider adopting your pet from a local shelter. Sources: “Choosing a Pet”, Best Friends.org “Finding the Right Pet”, BlueCross, bluecross.org.uk february/march 2019 gmhtoday.com