Many of life’s milestones have been achieved – financial independence, a house, a car and maybe even marriage and a family.
So, what could possibly be necessary to complete this picture? For many, the answer to that question is a pet, of either canine or feline sort.
While the idea of the ecstatic greetings of a fluffy friend whenever one returns home is enchanting, in reality, pets are a serious investment that needs much thought.
Adopting one on a whim is easy enough, but taking care of them for years after is a different matter altogether.
Here are five things to be considered before heading out to the shelter to adopt a pet:
While some dogs and cats are quite comfortable without human interaction for a couple of hours, others do not take being left alone well.
Pet owners need to spend a lot of time taking care of their pets’ needs, which can be very taxing for those with many other commitments such as children or work.
A dog owner needs to set aside some time each day to feed the dog, take him out for a walk and play with him.
With a full-time office job, the amount of time that can be spent with a dog or cat is limited on most days.
And be prepared to be late for work occasionally because a pile of vomit must be cleaned after the pet threw up on the carpet.
An oft-forgotten facet of having pets is just how much money they cost to take care of. From food expenditure to medical bills, one must be willing to set aside a good chunk of the income to care for them.
While a packet of pet food may seem cheap at first glance, the cost of feeding adds up over the years. More so if one loves one’s pet so much only branded or natural pet food will do.
Don’t forget that when heading off for a vacation, the pet will need to be temporarily housed and cared for, another expense.
Just because a person is quite comfortable living in a shoebox apartment, does not mean a pet will find the new home to its liking.
Dogs and cats are generally curious and adventurous animals that like large spaces to run about and play in.
This applies especially to large dog breeds that may be highly energetic and require constant activity to stay entertained.
Adventurous cats, on the other hand, may yearn to discover what exists beyond the four walls, slipping out at any opportunity.
Confining a large, restless animal in a small space is more or less akin to putting a bull in a china shop besides bordering on cruel.
If there is anything a dog or cat will bring into the house apart from loads of joy, it is endless tufts of fur and dander.
Animals shed fur on a daily basis, which could be detrimental to people who have breathing difficulties, particularly asthma.
People who unknowingly have pet allergies are also in for a nasty shock when symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing fits start kicking in.
On the upside, having a pet may also encourage an individual to practise a healthy lifestyle as taking care of a pet helps one stay active.
Pets are also known to help reduce the stress levels of their owners — just having a pet greet one after a long day of work is sure to bring a smile to the face.
5. Emotional investment
The relationship that pet owners develop with their furry friends is built on attachment and genuine love. So, at the end of their lives it does feel bittersweet when a once bouncy and active pet is plodding along breathing heavily.
For those fortunate enough, their aged pet will die peacefully in their sleep while dreaming of bones to bury and rats to catch.
But many others will have to make the difficult decision to spare their pet from the pain of end-of-life diseases.
But even if saying goodbye is difficult, it is good to know that the joy a pet brings throughout its life will always be worth the inevitable farewell.