The Allure (and the Reality) of Young Pets

Pet care & safety

Daily one of my clients asks, “What kind of puppy should I get?" My answer, “Have you ever thought of a 1 to 2 year old dog? They are so much easier.” They’re usually house-broken and you'll know a lot more about the dog’s personality. There are so many dogs and cats that need homes. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get a great pet and a friend for life.

But, lots of people still want a puppy. I must admit, there is nothing cuter than a puppy. They see wonder in everything. They love life. I would love to spend 10 minutes being puppy, just to know what true happiness is. And, with a puppy or kitten, you get the chance to watch them grow and develop, forming a lifelong bond. Which is probably why I didn’t take my own advice and now I find myself raising a puppy. Two months ago we “rescued” C.C. (right), a mini Labradoodle, who was being offered in a live auction at a fundraiser. (You don’t auction off a puppy at a fundraiser! As the auction proceeded I scanned the crowd, of well served possible puppy owners I might add, and came to the conclusion that C.C. had to come home with me and my wife.) I am reminded of why puppyhood is a trying time! I always say having a puppy is a good primer to see if you want kids. She is cute, but she is testing us. We are trying to follow all the suggestions I give my clients, but if you don’t watch her for a minute she is chewing on one of my wife’s boots (BTW, why does my wife need five pairs of black boots?) or pooping on the rug.

Remember, a puppy is training you at the same time you are training them. If you think they can’t eat something, think again. Whenever I wonder if I'm ready to trust CC I think back to one particular client, her 4 year old daughter, and a wide-eyed 4 month old, 35 lb. lab. I asked the little girl why she brought her puppy in and she said, “He ate 3 of my daddy’s golf balls” I told her that a puppy that size could not have eaten 3 golf balls. To convince her, I took an x-ray and, sure enough, 3 golf balls! I still do not know how that dog could have swallowed a golf ball. What’s more, I really can’t believe that it was such a pleasant experience that he want to do it two more times. Oh, the thought processes of a lab puppy. They will try to eat anything.

Now, kittens, compared to puppies, are a piece of cake. If you get one kitten, you should consider getting two. Then you can cancel your cable and watch them instead. Kittens love to knock things off counters and tables just because they can. They seem to relish in your dismay when they do it again and again. Kittens too will try to eat things they shouldn’t, though. They are smart enough not to try to eat a golf ball, but they love anything that looks like a string. Hair ties, dental floss, bag ties, sewing thread (along with the needle)...the list goes on. This sort of thing will cause a mess when the intestines try to move it down the tract, getting caught up and plicating the intestines up into a ball. It will always require surgery, and quickly.

Of course, I’m a big proponent of pet parenthood. Your life will be fuller with a pet. You will see what true happiness and love is, but think about what you are getting into when you bring a young pet into your home.

P.S. Remember, shelters and rescues don’t just have adult pets, but tons of puppies and kittens too. Just check out this litter of Rottweilers that need a home through R.E.A.L. Rottweiler Rescue.

Dr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.