After having dogs or cats, I have come to the conclusion that most of the time you do not own your pets, they own you. And it is wonderful. But having a pet (any pet) is a big decision and one that deserves a reality check.

This is about cats and dogs, but really for any animal of any size, it is the same basic deal. Being a pet owner is a big deal. First of all, puppies and kittens are stinking cute. They really are, but once you decided to bring them home they are now yours to protect and care for. This is a commitment. You have decided to accept responsibly for this little life. I hear you saying “Oh Renee, they are a pet- not a baby!” Hey, accepting responsibility to care for another life is a big deal, no matter the species. There are the considerations of time, money and the desire to be a pet parent.

Pets take time. That cute little fur ball needs to be properly trained to grow up to be a well-behaved cat or dog. They will need to be house trained, learn how to interact with you and other humans and, in the case of dogs, how to act with other dogs and walking on the leash. You will need to take time every day to devote to their needs. Dogs will need to be exercised, cats will need their litter boxes cleaned and both will need food and water. Dogs and cats need a safe place to stay when you are away. For the rather independent cats, it can be a less than a dog, but still, you are their owner, they need your attention to meet their basic needs.

Pets cost money. The cost of getting the pet is easy. But now you are looking at their lifetime of care. Their food, vet care, outside training that may be needed, grooming and the fun stuff like a few toys. We are talking about 10 to 12 to 14 years of paying for your pet. Personally, I budget about $50 a month for ShadowDog’s care. Let me spell it out. Dog food $35 a bag that last about 6-8 weeks, grooming every three months $35, once a month daycare $22, vet care and routine shots and meds $400-500 a year. And the fun stuff like a new dog toy, treats and leashes and collars. Cats will come with similar cost categories, but because of their size will probably be a little less. Dog or cat, it still adds up.

You can have all the time to give and all the money to spend but, unless you have the desire to be a pet parent, maybe it is not right for you. You have to want to spend time with your pet because they are companion animals and they want to spend time with you. Even cats may seem aloof, but they do desire the attention of their humans. No matter how beloved our pets, they are still animals and still see the world that way, when they make a mistake, we need to understand and forgive. If it is an issue that needs resolving it goes back to time AND the attention to help them.

Geez, as I write it all out it sounds like such a hassle. But for me, it has been the greatest thing in my life. My dogs have been nothing but pure love and acceptance. My old CoffeeDog was my sweet dog that helped me through my divorce, depression and some big life changes. On really bad days, he was the reason I HAD to get up and make it through the day. CoffeeDog and now ShadowDog have given comfort to others in physical pain and just have been there as a caring being. For me, it is all worth it, my life would not be complete without a pet.