I had a dog when I was younger.
When I was nine, my parents took her to the most wonderful farm in the world where she’s playing and frolicking with other dogs as we speak. It has large, spacious fields and it’s always sunny. Somedays she’s even visited by unicorns, my mom tells me.
I’ve lived the rest of my life without a dog. I’m doing okay. I stopped missing having someone as excited to see me upon my return home. I grew up and grew independent of the need for a canine companion.
Or so I thought.
Am I ready for a pet?
Lately, I struggle. I pine for a pet dog.
I was doing well, but then Facebook happened. Grumpy cats. Gigantic dogs who don’t understand personal space. Baby goats in pajamas. These pet memes and videos get me every time. Every. Single. Time.
Apparently, baby goats, even dressed in footie pajamas, require a special permit to keep in your yard. Plus, the city “will, under no condition, permit goats to live in a twelfth floor of a high-rise.” I live in a city with a “greenhouse” on every corner, but bring up baby goats and you’d think I plan to lend my vacuum cleaner to my neighbor.
Maybe I’m not mature enough for a pet. How does one even know they’re ready for an old, run-of-the-mill dog, cat, or fish? Are you ready for a pet of the more exotic variety, perhaps a bird or turtle?
I researched online to help me decide if I’m ready for a pet. Owning a pet is serious business today, more so than my nine-year-old self remembers. There are quizzes to take that ask such personal questions as:
- Do you expect to have children within the next fifteen years?
- Do you live in your mom’s basement?
- Are you broke?
I’m absolutely positive my parents didn’t take a quiz when they debated whether or not to buy our dog, Cindy (yes, my drag queen name would be Cindy Cloverly). I’m also certain my parents wouldn’t tell some website, even if they could, whether or not they were “broke.”
This is what you need to be ready.
While you might not need to have “perfect” answers to questions about your finances and living arrangements, you should make sure you know what you’re getting into. At the very least, here are some basics to get ready for a pet:
- Have the time and temperament to train and socialize a pet
- Make sure you’re financially prepared to care for a pet
- Commit to keeping your pet for its life
- Ensure everyone in your household wants (and isn’t allergic to) pets
- Ensure your home (apartment or homeowners association) allows for and is conducive to pets
Don’t overthink this, though, like the “responsible” parents in Idiocracy. The premise of this all-to-prescient movie is that all the responsible parents postpone having their 1.7 children until the perfect time. The “less-responsible” parents are like compounding interest and each couple has a multitude of kids at exponentially higher rates than the responsible couples.
Of course, in that movie, the president of the United States ends up being a former professional wrestler. Sigh.
A friend of mine once said, “There’s never a perfect time to have kids.” Sure, we dream of the ideal scenario, but we rarely achieve all the variables. We could work towards our fantasy, never get there, and then we never have our pet . . . or kid.
Two key questions tell if you are REALLY ready.
Determining when you’re ready for a pet, kid, or partner comes down to two questions:
- Are you ready to receive love?
- Are you ready to give love?
If you can answer yes to both of these questions, you’re prepared to give a pet the time, attention, and care it needs.
Are you perfect? No.
Will you make mistakes? Yes.
But if you’re ready to give love, you’ll learn from your mistakes and continue to make a better life for your pet. If you’re ready to give love, you’ll do your best each day to care for your pet. If you’re ready to give love, you’ll make sure your home is conducive to your pet’s needs and you’ll do your best to keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe.
If you’re ready to receive unconditional love, you’ll give love back ten times over and your pet will be your friend, companion, and family for life.
What I’ve learned from these quizzes and lists is that they are created by pet lovers with the best of intentions — and they want to make sure that you’re a pet lover with the best of intentions.
If you’re ready to receive and give love, your intentions are good.