Take time to plan for a new pet

By Dr. Florian Ledermann

Spring is finally here, and that stimulates us to put into action all our winter plans. Perhaps it means getting that pet your child has been bugging you about for months.
Owning a pet can be an enjoyable experience, but if we want to develop a long-lasting, responsible relationship with this new family member, there are things we should consider before we take action.
Too often, pets are acquired with little or no pre-planning and after the initial excitement wears off, the animal ends up in a pet shelter or tragically abandoned.
To illustrate what I believe is an excellent pre-pet acquisition plan, let me relate the story of 8-year-old Ali and her quest for a dog.
Ali was an animal lover from the beginning. She had all kinds of stuffed animals as companions during her early years, but now she wanted a “real” dog. After months of begging, Mom and Dad finally relented and under the Christmas tree in 2012 was a promissory note in the mouth of a stuffed puppy that read, “You will be getting your wish as soon as Spring arrives.” (Note the good planning).
This was one excited girl who loved planning for her new friend. The prep was this:
1 In February, watch the Westminter Dog Show on TV with the family to research breeds and their features.
2 Ali and Grandpa narrow down the choices – big, small, short or long hair, shed or not, active or docile, sporting or hound, house or outside, etc.
3 Consider Purebred, Crossbred, mixed, adopt from a shelter. (Any can be a good choice, but knowing a pedigree back generations is often predictable).
4 Visit the shelter and a good breeder’s kennel.
5 Decide on the age of the pup (hard to teach an old pup new tricks concept).
6 Design a facility plan. Where will the future dog sleep, play, excercize?
7 Formulate a training and care plan. Who feeds and cleans? Professional trainer or self-educate?
8 Where do we go for the health plan? Puppy’s personal veterinarian?
9 Mom and Dad privately discuss purchase price, food, health/supply costs and guide final decision with Ali.
10 BIG DAY arrives. A 6-week Bernedoodle named Oscar (Bernese Mountain Dog and Standard Poodle cross).
One year update: Dog and Ali are doing just great!

Dr. Florian Ledermann retired after 43 years of veterinary practice. He enjoys innkeeping, grape growing/wine making and spending time with his 13 grandchildren.

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