Pets often make wonderful additions to a household. Parents not only love pets because animals bring smiles to their children’s faces, but also because pets teach kids about responsibility.
It’s about balance and choosing what’s right for you and your family.
Some pets require more attention than others, so heads of a family should consider just how much time they have to devote to pet ownership. Dogs tend to need the most attention among the more popular household pets, so families whose schedules are already
full may find that pets who don’t need so much attention fit their lifestyle better. For example, cats don’t need to go for daily walks and tend to be more independent than canines, making them ideal pets for on-the-go families.
When deciding if a pet is right for your family, give heavy consideration to how much time your family spends at home, and if you decide to adopt a pet, choose one that won’t be negatively affected by your schedules.
“As much as I would like to say it’s all about routine and following through, it’s just not that easy,” said Hannah Perry, owner of the Giggling Pig Art Studio in Shelton and mom of two. “It’s about being a super mom and juggling 10 things at once. It’s about choosing which battle is worth the fight. Is it easier for you to just walk the dog after cooking dinner or forcing your teen to do it?”
Once the routine is set of who has to take care of the animals, it’s time to set the limits of what is or isn’t acceptable.
Jaimie Kassheimer, owner of Jaimie’s Daycare in Ansonia says you need to set boundaries and stick with them. The mother to a two-and-a-half-year old boy, Zachary, has a house full of children under the age of three on a daily basis — and two dogs. The dogs, Beaumont, a Boxer, and Cody, a Shih tzu, hang out with the kids while they play, do art or whatever’s going on.
“Have pets go lay down quietly when the kids are eating, and in return, the children are not allowed to bother the dogs when they eat,” said Kassheimer. “Lead by example and always supervise, so you can step in if you feel like the animal is beginning to become stressed.”
Kassheimer has a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She recently opened her licensed daycare and has incorporated her entire family with the new job.
“I don’t allow pets on my furniture, but for toddlers, my best furniture advice is don’t allow food on couches,” she said.
Most importantly: “Own a steam cleaner!” Kassheimer said.
What to consider
Damian Battersby is a veterinarian at Fairfield County’s Park Animal Hospital in Darien and Norwalk. He said the first thing to consider before getting a pet.
“First and most important of all is your current living situation,” he said. “Do you and your family live on a rural farm or in a small apartment in the city? Are you a retired couple with grown children, versus a large family with young kids? Are there other pets in the home?”
Many owners of two or more pets know sometimes bringing a new friend into the home doesn’t work out well. From poop on the floor to fighting and flat out ignoring, it’s a tough proposition.
“Another thing to consider is the future cost of your pet,” said Battersby. There is food, grooming, training, veterinary care, beds, toys and — sometimes —replacing and covering scratched furniture.
Families who tend to travel a lot also must consider the cost of sheltering the animal when they are out of town, while renters should determine if bringing a pet into a home will incur a higher rental deposit or if the animal is likely to cause damage, as puppies and kittens tend to do, that will ultimately cost them money when they move out of their rental.
In your home, you “should also spend time to ‘animal proof’ before brining any new pet home,” said Battersby. “This involves securing and preventing access to things like chemicals, cleaners, garbage or anything potentially breakable.”
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