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SPAZ- Society for the Protection of Stray Animals SINCE 1987

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT COMPANION ANIMAL

spaz_animals_1First, consider your accommodation. If you live in an apartment, a small or medium size dog would be more suitable than a large dog. But whatever size dog you choose, it needs to be walked a minimum of twice a day. All dogs need exercise. Unwalked dogs have excess energy that can get directed to less acceptable habits within the home.
 

Do you work all day and will the dog be alone all day, 5 days a week? If so, you should really re-think getting a dog. Dogs are sociable animals and it is not fair to them to be home alone for so many hours. AND in their lonliness and frustration, they can develop destructive habits, chewing things or barking for hours, for instance. Better to get a cat, who actually likes to be alone.
 

Perhaps the best way to choose the right dog for you is simply to visit the dog or foster a dog for a limited time. Spend some time with it, go for walks, introduce the dog to all your family and friends. Find out as much as you can about this dog. Then think about it. If you home a dog from SPAZ, we will vaccinate it, de-worm it and spay or neuter it before it is homed. If the dog is too young to be neutered, it can be done at a later date.
 

If you have a house with a protected garden, this will good for a dog, small or large, but certainly for a large dog. Have a proper house for it, in or near a shady area. A dog can spend a lot of time in a garden BUT unfortunately, many dogs are simply tied up on a short lead and forgotten in gardens, left to eat, drink, sleep, urinate, defecate in a small area and given no personal attention or never taken for a walk. THIS IS NOT A LIFE FOR A DOG! A tired up dog is not even a good guard dog. How can he protect anything when he is tied up? A constantly tied-up dog is an unhappy, bored, frustrated and sometimes aggressive dog who barks a lot. To be tied up for a few hours each day is another situation of course and is more acceptable. But we do not home dogs to people who just want to tie it up for its whole life. This is no life for a dog and we cannot stress this enough.
 

This brings us to balconies. A balcony is not a substitute for a walk. Dogs are not meant to live out their lives on balconies. They become bored, frustrated, bark a lot and are miserable. If you are thinking of getting a dog and letting it live on your balcony, we recommend very strongly that you do not get a dog.
 

Have you been thinking of getting a special breed? We have nothing against pure bred dogs and, as a matter of fact, have rescued many of them. This brings up the point that each breed (and each dog) has its positive and negative traits. And if the animal comes from a puppy mill (or kitten mill) it was probably born to an unhealthy mother in unsatisfactory conditions and may need really special care to nurture it to good health. Over-breeding also encourages genetic defects to be passed down from generation to generation. Of course, pure bred animals still deserve good homes, just like any cat or dog, but please don’t buy one from a store! If you really want a special breed and think that you will not find it from a shelter or animal welfare group, think again. Abandoned dogs and stray dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colours and breeds, from small poodles to large German shepherds. Pure bred animals are regularly abandoned no matter how much they may have cost. There are many others of mixed breed parentage as well, and in their favour, we find them often to be the most sociable and balanced of dogs, even the healthiest.
 

You may worry that a dog who has lived on the street, perhaps been born on the street, or lived with a family and been abandoned and then rescued, or kept in a dog shelter, will be a damaged dog and difficult dog. BUT we find that the opposite is true. Dogs live in the moment; they don’t dwell in the past; they don’t seem to hold grudges; they are willing to give humans the benefit of a doubt –“Maybe this person will take me home. I will jump up and down and lick their hands and maybe they will like me”. Dogs are eternally hopeful. That is not to say that some have behavioural problems that stem from being abused by humans. But patience, discipline and love are great healers.
If you want a dog to join you and your family, it should be a part of your family, a member of your family, a friend to your family. The love of a dog is unbounded and will enrich your family life in so many ways. People need dogs. They give us unconditional love, unconditional devotion, unconditional friendship, more than you will ever get from anyone else.
 

Choosing the right cat may be easier, although not necessarily so. As with dogs, breeds have certain advantages and disadvantages (long haired cats need grooming for instance). Cats have different characters than dogs; they don’t respond to the same training; loud meows are anything like loud barking; they can be confined to an apt without daily walks; they like company when they like company and don’t mind being left alone. They will choose to sit on your lap when they feel like it. Some cats are more people friendly than other. Some are quite feral and better as garden cats. People seem to either be cat-people or dog-people, although some people like both and often cats and dogs can get along very well together.