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Choosing the pet that’s right for you

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Updated: March 25, 2013 6:11AM



Dear Ollie: I have read that whether finned, feathered or furry, pets are good for people’s health. They can lower blood pressure during times of stress and pet owners are more physically fit and tend to be less lonely or fearful than those without pets.

So, we are thinking about adopting a pet from one of our local shelters or buying one from a pet store. Actually, a dog would be nice because our family enjoys exercise.

Can you tell me how to make the right decision about acquiring a pet?

Ken, San Pierre

Dear Ken: I don’t care if you buy a fish or a bird (not exotic) from a pet store but I do care if you buy a dog or cat from one.

Pet shops are markets for puppy mills and there is no reason to breed dogs and cats while millions are killed in shelters every year.

If you want a purebred puppy, contact a reputable breeder or call a shelter. Shelters often have purebred animals, too.

Now, let’s get back to your question. Well, you’re on the right track, so to speak. If you want to get in shape or stay in shape I don’t recommend acquiring a bird, they make terrible exercise partners.

Cats are sort of nice if you’re gone a lot. But never try to bicycle with a cat scampering by your side. It just won’t work and it makes the cat very mad.

A fish is an excellent choice for you if you enjoy gazing at it through a glass container and never want it to climb in your lap or greet you at the door because it won’t. And seriously, you don’t want it to do those things.

Though cats, fish and birds can provide you with much the same kind of social support that people do and they’re always there when you need them, if you want something more, you’re right to think about getting a dog.

First, decide if you want a puppy or an older dog. Then, consider your living space and a dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children, if you have them in the household.

Consider your budget and whether you need a dog that won’t shed because someone close to you has allergies.

When visiting a shelter, don’t judge a dog by its behavior in a cage. Because a shelter is an unfamiliar place for any animal and scary for some, they may act differently.

Most shelters have bonding rooms where they allow you to play with different dogs and assess which may fit best in your home.

Ask the shelter counselors about a dog’s history and let them help you choose the perfect pet for your family.

Good luck, Ken.



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