Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Critter Corner

 “Puppy Love”
By Dr. Steve Velling

People often make the mistake of going to a pet shop on a whim, or being dragged to one by their children, and the next thing you know you are in love with the cutest little ball of fluff you’ve ever seen.  I’ve seen many people come to me after initially going to the grocery store, only to run into an Adoption Day from a local shelter group and come home with a puppy instead of groceries!  That’s not a bad thing, but it really is important to consider the many different questions that go into dog ownership:

-        Do you want a big dog or little dog?  Some people love huge dogs no matter the amount of hair, drool, or amount of food fed, while others love a little one that they can hold in their arms or on their lap.  Dogs can be split up into roughly 5 sizes – 1) Toy Breeds (Maltese, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians), 2) Small breeds (Beagles, Bichons), 3) Medium Dogs (Border Collies, Bulldogs), 4) Large Breeds (Afghans, Standard Poodles, Weimaraners), and 5) Giant Breeds (Bull Mastiffs, Great Danes, Newfoundlands)

-        Do you want a lover or a loner?  Some dogs do well in family settings (like  Golden Retrievers and Labradors) and other dogs prefer quiet or single owner settings ( Pugs and Akitas).

-        Will your dog spend their lives indoors or outdoors?   People need to think about how much space they have.  You really shouldn’t get a Great Dane if you live in an apartment.   Also, some dogs are really made for either the outdoors (Rottweiliers, Huskies) or need lots of exercise (Border Collies).

-        Are allergies a factor?  This has to be one of the most common requests that I get in terms of what breed to get.  Many people want a dog that is “hypoallergenic” and doesn’t shed.  In some cases, adults or children really do have a severe allergy to dog hair, but most of the time the parents don’t want to deal with hair being all over everything, a request from my wife for our next dog.  A good website to go to is Dog Breed Info..

Now that my oldest daughter is heading off to college, my younger daughter is looking to fill the void with a puppy.  Who wouldn’t want a puppy?  But that cuteness comes at a cost – time, money, and energy are the biggest investments with successful dog ownership.  Still the payoffs are even greater – unconditional love, constant companionship, improved health to name a few.  So picking a puppy has long term effects and consequences, and it all starts with understanding your own situation beforehand.

Till next time,   Dr. Steve

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