Happy Pet.
 by Laurie Buckley!

Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley

Do your research before adopting a pet.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, a young couple rushed their 9-month-old Basset Hound pup to the veterinarian. The pup was diagnosed with parvo, a highly contagious virus that affects the intestines. While often fatal, it can be prevented through vaccines.


The couple had purchased the dog through a breeder who told them that the dog " had all its' shots". What wasn't explained or understood was that puppies get a series of vaccinations to prevent deadly diseases. This puppy had been given the first round of vaccinations, but had never received the subsequent shots needed over the first four months.

His owners didn't know he needed them. So, now he had parvo. The story has a happy ending, in that the veteranarian was able to save this dog's life. And the owners received a very emotionally and financially expensive lesson.


The incident was noteworthy because it emphasizes how often puppies and kittens are purchased by owners who have the best of intentions but are unprepared and uniformed about the care needed for these baby animals. How many of us make a major purchase such as an automobile or appliance without first doing our research? My suggestion in that we do the same before purchasing or adopting a pet.


While I hope and trust that shelters are doing a good job at screening and educating the potential adopters, the same cannot always be said for the sales clerk at the pet store, or some of the less reputable breeders.


During the holiday season, when the impulse may be to purchase a pet as a gift, I thought it might be helpful to discuss the thinking that should happen before getting a pet. Future articles will go a step or two further to include choosing the right pet and bringing your new pet home. I am also offering free consolations to anyone who is thinking about getting a pet, would like help choosing a pet, or has recently gotten a pet and would like some guidance.


Here are a few questions to ask yourself before getting a pet.


Why do you want a pet, and does everyone in the household want one? Take my word for it, talking your spouse into a pet he truly does not want is not sound thinking. Getting a pet under the delusion that your children are going to take care of it also is not wise. Sure kids can help take care of a pet, but who is going to be up in the middle of the night when the puppy has to potty? Who is going to clean up when puppy throws up after ingesting one of their favorite toys? The answer is probably Mom, and maybe Dad, but most often Mom. And most Moms I know are pretty maxed out already with work, home, school activities, ect.


The right answer to this question is that you or you and your family want and have time for a companion for the next 10 to 20 years. However else this pet may serve you, whether as a guard dog or mouse catcher, his purpose is to be your best friend.


How would describe your lifestyle? Honestly. Not the way you wish your life was, but realistically. If you are a couch potato, admit it. If you’re workaholic, fess up. If you'd like to exercise more, but have not done so in the past 20 years, that’s probably not going to change. And these are all important things to consider before deciding to get a pet.


The amount of free time you have and how you like to spend that time has direct bearing on the type of pet you should choose. For some, a high-energy puppy may fit in great. For others, a goldfish or a plant may be the smartest choice.


Can you financially afford a pet? Shelters are seeing an increase in the number of pets being relinquished due to tough economic times. On average, dogs are more expensive than cats and young animals more expensive than an adult animal. The American Kennel Club (AKX) estimates that the average one-time costs of getting a puppy are $2,100. The annual cost of a dog ownership is $2,500 (food grooming, vet care, treats, ect.). Take a good look at how much disposable income you have. I am sure I am not the only pet owner that is spending the large majority of her limited extra cash on the dog these days. Contact a few local vets to get an estimate on medical cost. Visit Red Bones Dog Bakery on Eighth Street to discuss the high quality foods they offer and the associated costs. Call local groomers and find out how much it will cost if your pet has to be groomed regularly. These are all cost that add up over the course of a year.


Next month, we'll discuss how the answers to these questions play into choosing the pet that is right for you.


Laurie Buckley is the owner/Operator of A Passion 4 Pooches Pet Spa, 1881 South 14th Street, Suite 3. The spa offers grooming, massage and training. She resides in Fernandina Beach with 12-year-old Border Collie mix Mae. Send your questions on basic pet care, training and behavior challenges to passion4pooches@yahoo.com or call 491-1767.