Category Archives: Pet Parent Prompt

Choosing “The One”

So, it’s time. You know you have the essentials to get a pet, and you know the importance of adopting vs. buying. Now, it’s time to consider what kind of pet is perfect for you – size, temperament, activity, and all! (Side note: since dogs are the most popular pet, we will focus this post on choosing the right dog.)

Just like with searching for a spouse, or claiming someone as our best friend over another person, we look at what kind of person they are. Their personality, behavior, and interests are all factors we consider in other people; and the same goes for dogs too. We all want our dogs to mesh with our lives, to be just another (albeit four-legged) member of the family. And with this desire, comes much to think about.

Size: Choosing a dog based on the space you live in is important. If you live in an apartment, it would not be ideal, for you or the dog, to adopt a large breed – such as a Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Bernese Mountain Dog, etc. These dogs require ample space to both move around and feel comfortable, and for you as well. For people living in apartments or smaller condos/town homes, small to medium-sized dogs are more ideal. So, depending on where you call home, the size of your living conditions should factor in what size dog you should adopt.

Size does matter! (Photo Via:

Size does matter!
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Temperament: While it’s nice to think that we would all be unbiased when it comes to choosing a dog, especially breed, realistically that’s not possible. Each individual dog has their own individual personality, and it’s important to know what kind of personality best suits you. First thing’s first, erase your brain of all those Pit Bull stereotypes. For a temperament test performed by the American Canine Temperament Testing Society, Pit Bulls passed with flying colors with a score of 83.9%. They even surpassed the Golden Retriever (83.2%) and the Beagle (78.2%), and highly out-did the average passing score of 77% for all breeds. While this can not be said for all Pit Bulls (there are bad eggs in all families), the owner is usually the problem. With gentle, loving, and proper leadership, Pit Bulls make great family pets. So, don’t exclude them just because of their bad rap!

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Some dogs however, no matter the breed, may just have a bad temperament. Maybe they suffered from a traumatic past experience, or have lost trust in certain humans (some dogs even relate better to women than men, or vice versa). Whatever it is, there are ways to test out a dog’s temperament before adopting them. Most shelters already know a dog’s personality, and will inform you before adopting, however, if you are curious for yourself, there are some things you can test out on your potential future dog. Calmly and gently touch their feet, ears, and tail. These are sensitive spots for dogs, and if a dog shows signs of aggression when you touch them (i.e. barred teeth, growling, nervous retreating), these are things to consider, especially if you know your dog will be around young children. Another useful tip is knowing how a dog reacts around other people and animals. Most shelters allow you to walk the dog you are considering. Seeing how they react while on leash and on the street around other people and animals is a great indicator of a dog’s behavior. And lastly, make sure to have the entire family present when considering a dog. Making sure the dog meets each family member before adoption is important not only to determine behavior, but is also part of the bonding process.

Breed plays a role in a dog's character, but it doesn't determine their whole, often complex, personality. (Photo Via:

Breed plays a role in a dog’s character, but it doesn’t determine their whole, often complex, personality.
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Activity: Just like with a human partner, we also look for common interests when it comes to our pets. Do you enjoy running, or are you more of a couch potato? Are you outdoorsy, or do you prefer to snuggle up inside? Activity is determined mostly by breed. Highly active breeds include Beagles, Fox Terriers, and German Shepherds. So, if you are looking for a running buddy, or someone to play fetch with on a daily basis, these may be the breeds for you. However, if you enjoy watching TV marathons, or live a less active lifestyle, Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, and the Bullmastiff may fit better in your family. Age and health is also a factor in the activity level of a dog. Older dogs (which need just as much love!) are more suited for a calmer, less-active lifestyle. On the other hand, puppies and young adults, given they don’t have any health restrictions, need ample exercise and play time. To see a more detailed list of the activity levels of certain breeds, visit Happy Healthy Puppy.

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While this may seem like a lot of information, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Factoring in all of the above, and adding requirements of your own, is important when deciding which dog is best for you and your family. Make sure to do your research. Adopting a dog should not happen on a whim, and “love at first sight” doesn’t always determine a healthy, happy relationship.

Knowing what you want and need in your life, and meeting many different dogs, is key in choosing “the one”. So get out there a mingle! There are many adoptable dogs searching for you as well!

*Note: The above article was written by ©Kalie Lyn, 2014*

Adopting vs. Buying

For the first installment of “Pet Parent Prompt”, we talked about whether or not to become a pet parent. If you are willing to give up both your time and money to become the perfect pet parent, then it’s time to move on to the next big question: adopting or buying.

Here at Animal Culture, there is only one simple answer to this: adopt. However, many future pet parents have concerns about adopting.

I want a pure bred.

I want a puppy/kitten.

What if my newly adopted dog has behavioral issues? 

These are some of the main reasons future pet parents decide to buy rather than adopt. However, each of these worries can be addressed.

Pure Bred: Did you know, according to the estimation by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, that 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred? If you are set on adopting a pure bred dog, there are options. There are specific breed rescues and shelters out there, so whatever breed you are looking for, a quick Google search with “(enter breed here) rescue” can help you find the perfect pure bred for you in your area. Also, many rescues and shelters have waiting lists for people who are looking for a specific breed, so ask your local shelter if they do the same. And if you do decide that maybe the adorable Shepherd/Lab mix you found at a rescue is the perfect fit for your family, there’s nothing wrong with that! Mixes and mutts are just as lovable as purebreds, and with proper training, love, and affection (just like with any dog) can make the perfect family pet.

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Puppies & Kittens: Everyone loves babies – especially animal babies. What with their fluffy fur, cute faces, and tiny paws, raising a pet from an infant can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. But, it is also a lot of work. Potty training, feeding every few hours, training and being able to properly discipline (non-physically, of course) can be hard. However, if you are willing to put even extra time and money into raising a puppy or kitten, there are many in need of homes. Most animals end up in shelters because they are found on the street or people give them up. There are many instances when a pregnant or new mother dog/cat is delivered to a shelter with babies. Those babies then need homes. Ask your local shelter about the puppies and kittens available for adoption. You may have to wait, but make sure you let the rescue know you are keen on adopting a baby. However, if age does not matter to you, there are an abundant amount of young adult and senior dogs in shelters. They too need homes (if not more since people are more likely to want a puppy or kitten ) and being able to adopt an older dog is very rewarding as you will make the rest of their lives comfortable and stable – especially since most of their lives have not been.

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Behavioral Issues: Finally, many people have concerns that adopting a pet from a shelter may come with a temperament. While it is true that some animals from shelters have had brutal pasts – abuse, mistreatment, neglect – shelters and rescues are very careful when adopting these kinds of pets out, and usually don’t unless they know the animal will do no harm. Usually, shelters work with these animals, getting them used to being around humans again. Shelters also use experienced foster parents, people who take in pets until they are found homes, to work with the animals, and see how they act around other pets and in a home environment. Many shelters and rescues also make up a behavioral chart about each adoptable pet. These charts let future pet parents know whether the animal is good with children, other animals, likes affection, is territorial, etc. If you are not ready to take on a pet with behavioral issues, don’t worry. There are many lovable and sweet dogs and cats who don’t have bad pasts, and these pets may be the best option for inexperienced pet parents.

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Homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1. These are animals who have been abandoned, unwanted or unable to be cared for. 3 to 4 million of these adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year because either the shelter is too full or there are not enough homes for them all. Adopting helps both the animals and shelters. You will be giving a home to a pet who needs one, and allowing more room and the possibility of a home for another animal who takes their place.

Buying, on the other hand, is detrimental to the ever-growing dog and cat population. When you buy from a pet store, and even some breeders, you are unintentionally supporting puppy mills. Puppy mills, which are breeding operations, put making a profit ahead of the animals’ needs. Female dogs and cats are bred over and over again until they no longer can, at which point they are usually killed. The animals are stored in small cages, neglected, and many are abused. Only the “fit” ones reach the pet stores, and when people buy from them, the puppy mill process continues.

The only way to end puppy mills is to adopt. When that time comes, make sure you have done some research. Check out The Dog Guide for some important questions to ask your local shelter or rescue before you adopt.

And, once again, to reiterate its importance, NEVER BUY, ALWAYS ADOPT!

Adopt, save a life, and gain a new family member.


Money & Time: Can I Give Both?

Adopting a pet is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Pets, whether it be a dog, cat, fish, gerbil, etc., are lifelong commitments – “lifelong” in terms of your pet’s life – and is a commitment that needs to be completely thought out beforehand.

A pet needs food, water, training, shelter, medical, and lots and lots of love. Basically, a pet is a four-legged child, and when it comes to your child’s well being, nothing can stand in the way. So, before deciding whether or not you are ready for that grande commitment, there are two important factors you must consider.

Money: Most importantly, are you financially able to support another living, breathing life? The amount you would spend on vet bills alone can determine that. Be prepared to pay a few (a few meaning 3) hundred a year, and this amount usually only factors in the annual physical exam vet visit, including vaccines and tests. Add spaying and neutering, minor – (diarrhea, vomiting, infections) or major (broken bones, injuries needing surgery) complications, and that $300 can tripple in the blink of an eye. Granted, this information mainly concerns dog parenting; cats, rodents, fish, etc. are much less expensive in terms of medical expenses, though it is important to keep up-to-date on all pet types’ vaccines. Aside from the medical bills, potential pet parents must also add in adoption fees, food, bedding, grooming, toys, hygienic tools (kitty litter and boxes, pee pads), etc., and you can rack up an estimated $700-$3,000 a year.

Time: Kennels and doggie daycare were created for the busy pet parent. But, with the amount you spend on a pet, why have one in the first place if you will not be able to enjoy its company? If you travel or work a lot, it may be the wrong choice to adopt a dog. Cats or rodents though, since they are less maintenance and can be left alone for longer periods of time (with sufficient food and water of course), may be the perfect companion for you. However, cats and rodents need care and love too, so if you are sure you would not be able to provide that on the schedule you have, stick with fish.

Of course there is much more to consider when deciding whether to be a pet parent or not, but money and time are the two most important.

Do I have the money to give a pet everything it needs and wants?

Do I have the time to give a pet everything it needs and wants?

If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then maybe you should consider looking at your local shelters for an animal who needs a home.

However, if you answered “no” to one, or especially both, of those questions, maybe it is best if you just stick with a Tamagotchi.

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And remember, ALWAYS ADOPT!