Finding that new ‘best friend’

Whether it’s a first-time relationship or a replacement for a dearly beloved four-legged friend, the first step is doing your homework. Books, breeders, veterinarians, humane societies and the internet can help you in your search.

Whether you’re choosing your first pet, or looking for a new companion after the passing of an older four-legged friend, it pays to do your homework. Ask yourself:

  • What it is, exactly, I’m looking for in this new pal.
  • Should I adopt an older pet who may be housebroken, well trained or perhaps somewhat sedentary? This may work out well if the pet fits your personality and lifestyle — and as long as it remains healthy.
  • Can I cope with added expenses if the animal ends up with a problem requiring veterinary care?

Speak to a veterinarian. If you’re considering a dog, check with a local trainer. The idea is to match up with a pet whose temperament suits your stage of life.

“The younger dog is going to keep you more active,” says Dr. Dave Cartledge, of Edmonton’s Bonnie Doon Veterinary Clinic, “so that’s healthier, even if it’s sometimes more frustrating. It’s more inclined to wake y up in the morning and get you going,” he says. “You have to walk them around the block twice a day. The exercise is excellent for you and the dog.”

Other information sources

  • Books are a good source for learning about the traits of the various breeds of dogs and cats, or any other type of pet you may be considering. Reputable breeders stand behind their animals and are willing to help a new owner and pet establish a good relationship.
  • Check with your local humane society if you prefer a non-pedigreed pet. Sadly, Statistics Canada reports there are almost 40,000 animals left at shelters or humane organizations each year.
  • One pet food and pet supply retailer, PETsMART Canada, has a Luv-A-Pet Adoption Centre in each of its stores in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. The stores don’t sell dogs or cats, but provide the centres to local humane organizations to encourage the adoption of homeless animals. Over 5,000 animals have been adopted since the centres opened. Discounts are offered on in-store obedience classes, for both puppy and adult adoptees.