Are you ready for a new housemate? Is this a passing desire because you’ve had a great time playing with someone else’s adorable, house-trained, and well-socialized pet for an afternoon? And how will you cope with the responsibility of cleaning up the messes, preparing the food, exercising, training, and generally caring for an animal?
Furthermore, do your living circumstances lend themselves to including a dog or cat, or bird or rabbit for that matter? Adjustments may have to be made to social schedules and living spaces, and everybody needs to be on board with that.
So before you take the plunge into pet ownership, it’s best to test the waters first.
Try looking after someone else’s pet.
Offering to take care of neighbors’ or relatives’ pets is a good place to start. It will help that you are already familiar with the animals, and if you can feel comfortable with feeding, cleaning up after, and walking them for a week or so, you’ll learn a bit about what it means to have a pet full-time.
Still not sure? Fostering could be the next step. Fostering shelter animals for short periods takes that concept of a trial period a step further, without having to make a permanent commitment. To foster an animal from the APSCA, someone needs to be the one to register and attend the information session and generally take responsibility for the animal.
But if you are willing to pitch in to help your kids gain a closer understanding of what it means to care for animals, even for a limited time, contact your state branch of the APSCA and register for their foster programs.
Volunteering to help at a rescue center or shelter is another way for you to learn the responsibilities of caring for animals but, unfortunately, there are very limited opportunities. For instance, After the three-month commitment is fulfilled, additional volunteer opportunities, such as socializing our cats, walking our dogs, and aiding with adoption tours and matchmaking, may be available with further training. If you are interested in helping in other ways, we also encourage you to consider fostering a shelter animal in your home.
Where is it best to test the waters?
Perhaps the more informal path of offering to walk neighbors’ dogs, feed their cats, and getting to know the local canines — with their owner’s permission — at the nearest leash-free dog park would be a good start.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.