Getting a pet is a serious commitment. Whether it’s a dog, a cat, or even a fish, getting a pet requires a long term commitment to them. Why is that? Because they are reliant on you for survival. Different types of pets require differing levels of commitment. A cat can be left alone for a weekend. A dog that lives indoors, maybe eight hours. 24 if you don’t mind cleaning up a mess. A fish, probably longer. But eventually, they’ll need your help too.

Whatever type of pet you’re interested in, you need to understand this level of commitment and how long that commitment will be. Cats can live into their mid-teens without much issue. Large dogs may go 8-12 years. Smaller dogs live longer.

Understanding the time period requires serious thought about where you are in life. A larger dog takes a lot of resources and if they live for a decade you better have a good feeling about where you’ll be in ten years. If job changes, military work, having kids, or anything else may make having such a dog difficult, then reconsider getting one.

I’ve entered a point in life where many people I know well have had pets for many years.  And now, through job transfers or just getting married and having kids, they’re getting rid of these pets.  Cats and dogs alike.  I’d hardly call this an epidemic, but it’s common enough to be a problem.

When The Sheconomist got our dog, it was partially over my objection.  Growing up with cats, I liked the relatively lower responsibility.  I also knew we were entering a period in our lives in which having 75 pounds of dog that needed regular attention would be difficult and expensive.  Things I didn’t want to divert resources to.  This included moving many states over, changing jobs, and a host of other uncertainties.  Sure enough, this dog has been expensive, and a burden on many occasions.  A simple weekend trip requires coordination of what to do with the dog, which could mean finding a sitter or sending him to “camp”.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  He’s a great dog.

However, even if I hated him and all he represents from a financial or time perspective, I wouldn’t get rid of him.  If he’s happy, it’s a part of our commitment to keep him happy.  So simply because life demands our attention elsewhere, too bad.  He deserves some too, because we made a commitment to him.

So please, if you’re considering getting a pet, think long an hard about your level of commitment.  If it’s pretty easy to make the decision to get rid of a pet, you never should have had them in the first place.

Oh, and spay/neuter.  PLEASE.  You aren’t a breeder and your pet doesn’t have to pay for themselves.

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