Fido or Fluffy? Choosing the Pet that’s Right for You

In the last year, my household has gone down from 4 pets (2 senior cats and 2 guinea pigs) to 2 pets (the guineas).  After owning the cats for almost 20 years, it’s quite weird not having them around anymore.  Do we get another cat?  Or do we venture into the realm of dog ownership (something I’m not as excited about as my husband and son are).  It doesn’t help that recently I’ve been reading articles about how over-run rescue shelters are with kittens and puppies this spring, with the warm weather increasing the breeding cycle of animals. And who can forget about the influx of unwanted bunnies now that Easter is over?

 If , like me, you’re considering opening your home to a new pet, it’s a great idea to do some research before you take the plunge.  Not every animal is a good fit for every household.  If you’re interested in a dog, a title like the World Atlas of Dog Breeds will provide you with information to make a better informed decision.  The Original Dog Bible contains information about how to decide if a dog is a good pet for you and how to choose a breed that’s a good match.  If you have dog allergies, don’t despair!  Sneeze-free Dog Breeds identifies those breeds that are better for those with allergies.

If you’re not a dog person, there are plenty of books on other pets.  If you’re considering a cat, then you might want to check out  The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Cats, Cat Breeds and Cat Care.  Different breeds of cats have varying dispositions, and require different levels of care.  An Animal Planet DVD called Cats 101 also provides great information on cat behavior, breeds, etc.  And The Sneeze-free Cat Owner discusses breeds that might work out if you have allergies to these furry creatures.

There are also many smaller animals that might be a  great match for you.  We’re guinea pig owners, and just love these little guys.  In fact, when a friend recently told me that the Humane Society had 2 guinea pigs there, I had to visit the site daily to see if they had been adopted.  I even phoned to ask if they would be euthanized if no-one adopted them (apparently they don’t euthanize small animals).  Mike and Ike are no longer on the site, so hopefully they’ve found a great home.  The Barron’s book entitled Guinea Pigs will provide you with lots of good information about how to care for these pets.  And if you do decide to purchase guinea pigs (purchase 2 as one gets lonely!), then you can train them with the help of this book.  Yes, you can apparently use clickr training on guinea pigs.  (And no, I haven’t tried that yet with my own piggies).

Other small animals that might be a great match for you are hamsters and gerbils.  If you don’t want your hamster to die within 1 week like mine did when I was a kid, then you’d best do some reading first!  Hamsters: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition and Behavior would be a great place to start.  Hamsters for Dummies is another good title for prospective hamster owners.  If you’re interested in getting a gerbil, the book Gerbils: The Complete Book of Gerbil Care would be a good read.  I had a gerbil when I was a child, but it kept escaping from its cage.  My solution?  Give it to my sister so that when it escaped in the middle of the night I could wake her up and tell her to go look for her gerbil.

Rabbits also make interesting pets.  There are many breeds of rabbit, including lop-eared varieties, rex breeds, dwarfs and many others.  The Mini Encyclopedia of Rabbit Breeds and Care provides excellent information to help you decide if you’d make a good rabbit owner.  If you’re in the market for something a bit more exotic, how about a hedgehog?  Hedgehogs: Everything about Purchase, Care and Nutrition will let you know what’s involved in caring for this unique pet.  There are also books on caring for ferrets, turtles, snakes and reptiles.

If you do some research before you welcome a pet into your home, then you’ll likely end up with a pet that will be a great fit for your household.  And when you do adopt a new pet, feel free to check out these titles to help you choose a name.  Just promise me that you won’t use the name Zummo!


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