25 years ago, I was just born. No, seriously! I was young and single at the time and living in an apartment. A friend of mine was nice enough to remind me that I “needed” a pet. This person had a giant dog — and I knew I wasn’t going to pay the pet deposit — so I needed a companion who was a little less conspicuous. It was then I started my journey of adopting pets and seeing the “dividends” that were to come.
Another friend helped me find someone with a litter of kittens. They were all white and so cuddly and I couldn’t just take one — so I adopted two. Zsa Zsa Glamour Kittie and Prettie Lil Ava quickly became my very best friends. They loved being pampered and aged along with me to the ripe old cat age of 15. They met my husband and he also loved them dearly, spoiling them even more so than I did. And one day they were gone, one right after the other.
Loss and life — part of the experience of pet ownership
That was one of the saddest times I have ever lived through; anyone who has a lost a pet knows exactly what I’m talking about. Sadly, they were never able to meet my daughter, MacKenzie. I wanted to share that experience of loving a pet with her. We waited until she was about 4, and suggested fish. Even at that young age, she knew what she wanted, declaring also that fish were boring: “What about a turtle, Mommy?” A swimmingly clever idea, I told her (see what I did there?)
Sometimes, your pet chooses you
Let’s get one thing clear: I go into every situation with a budget. Little did I know that a red-footed turtle was $150 at the time (and has since gone up in value… er, cost.) In any case, it was out of our budget and I talked her out of it; this time turtles were not in the picture. At the same time, I remembered a certain short-lived pet turtle of my own: Hector. Somehow this inspired me to think of all the pets out there waiting to be rescued. Not sure how good ol’ H gave me that idea — but bless him for it.
We drove straight to the SPCA office and found 2 perfect white kittens, who also had a brother (in another location.) They chose us. We drove home to tell my husband the good news, and he went back with us to pick them up… including their brother, which got me “the look.” Three cats later – Chuck Finley, Chancy Ray, and Angel Grizzabella – we’re all one big happy family. Well, sometimes. Other times they lick each other and then slap each other, but it’s all out of love, right?
Being a fur parent is a huge commitment
My Magic 8 Ball says “get to the point.” The key here is that while taking on the responsibility of a new pet can be one of the best decisions of your life, it’s also a huge commitment. There’s lots to consider if it’s your first time adopting a pet on your own, both emotionally and financially.
Your first pet: 6 things to consider right away
- The time you must devote: it’s a long-term commitment!
- Are you living on your own, with family, or with roommates? Who will be taking on each responsibility, e.g. cleanup, feeding, etc.?
- What kind of pet is practical; an example would be that a 100 lb. dog is not sensible for a small apartment!
- Are their any allergies or other medical concerns in your family?
- Will the pet need training, and do you have the time?
- Are you planning any travel, and how will you ensure your pet is cared for during these times?
Financial considerations of adopting your first pet
- What is the up-front cost, and is it within your budget?
- What are the ongoing costs, such as litter, food, supplies, housing, and toys? How will this fit into your budget?
- Are you prepared for eventual veterinarian bills? (They will come.) And of any specific health concerns of the pet you’re looking to adopt?
- If something happens to you, who will care for your pet? Consider including your pet in your will or estate planning.
Pets will cost you money, but it’s an investment worth making
Of course, you can be like some people I know who buy a car just for the dog to be comfortable in, or endlessly spoil them with doggie day cares and outings. The moral of the story is – whether you go basic or lavish them with luxury – it’s worth it.
I can honestly say that having pets has been a rewarding experience throughout my life and has helped me grow as a person. Not all dividends in life are financial. I hope my daughter is having an equally enriching experience with our three cats — and I think they are — since right now they are all fast asleep in her bed. Her foot is resting on Chuck and her hand on Chancy while Angel is laying on her face. This explains a lot, and the Magic 8 Ball agrees…”You May Rely On It.”