Often you’ll see the CUTEST dog on the streets, or hanging its head out of someone’s car, and you’ll think ‘Awwwwwwwww! Cute! I want one!’ But as soon as the car drives out of sight, the thought goes along with it. If you have an especially soft spot for animals, driving through Westlands and especially alongside the malls is a heart wrenching moment when you want to take all the pets on sale home with you.

Pets are a handful, especially in the younger ages. They literally are like children. You have to get them, and part them from their mom, making their suffering seem like cruelty. Then you have to housetrain them, and then live with them for the rest of yours and their lives.

Many a person has succumbed to the cuteness of a young animal, only to realize when it grows up that it is NOTHING like what they wanted. The puppy you got on the streets was not a terrier, but a Japanese Spitz, bigger and more playful than you imagined. That German shepherd has a streak of Rottweiler in it, and seems tougher than you wanted it to be. Or the Labrador that you mistook for a German shepherd is more laid back.

The first rule in getting a pet is to examine your need for a pet. Why do you want a pet?

Most people get a pet at a whim – that aww factor. Just because it looks cute doesn’t mean it will do so for the rest of its life. And just because it’s easier to handle a puppy or kitten, and have fun with it playing, doesn’t mean it will be the same later. So resist that factor, and when you drive by the Westgate and feel like you should do something for the animals, drive on to the KSPCA and make a donation for the animals already sheltered there. Your guilt will be somewhat assuaged, if just for a moment.

The other reason that people get pets is for work, and dogs are often the most pets that are picked for this reason. Security is in high demand in the urban areas, especially for those who live in unguarded compounds. The feeling of having a dog barking to warn you of intruders, or attacking possibly dangerous persons is a necessity in some people’s lives. So they get a dog that will hopefully be kali enough to do damage to intruders. Others get cats to hound mice and other pests, donkeys to haul heavy stuff, horses to ride and work, chicken to lay eggs and so forth.

My advice? Get a pet that fits your family and/or lifestyle, and only get it if you’re ready to care for it.

Every one of us had different lifestyles and families, and routines. There’s the full family – with children and parents resident at home all the time. There’s the couple without children. And there’s the single person.

In a household where the members are rarely at home, it’s ill advised to get a pet. If you’re single and never at home, a fish might be the best choice – it can go a day without food, and a week or two without cleaning the tank, depending on the size of the tank and the number of fish in it. and fish don’t go beyond their given space, therefore cleaning around them is easy – they will not mess up your apartment. On the other hand, a couple who has one person always in and around the home is also ideal. In this case, a dog or cat might be easy to keep.

The ultimate setting for a pet is a full house with multiple members. This constantly keeps the pet attended and with human contact if necessary. In addition, most households like these have spacious homes where the pets can run around and exercise in safety, as well as enjoy the outdoors.

The other factor that we often ignore is the cost of keeping a pet. From feeding, grooming and treating a sick/injured pet, this will sometimes set you back a pretty penny. I have a great vet who, after a lasting relationship between him, my pets and I, has always agreed to treat my pets first and settle the bills later. Trust me; sometimes you will be side-slapped by a bill bigger than your monthly entertainment budget. Then you will have to rework your financial priorities!


The main questions to ask yourself are:

  • Why do you want a pet? Do you want it’s company, or because it’s cute, or because the kids asked for a dog? Are you rescuing an animal, and will you be able to keep it?
  • How much time do you have to spend with the pet? Are you constantly at home, or is someone else there? Do you have time to train the pet to live in a human household? Do you have time to just be with the pet and give it the affection it needs?
  • Where will you keep the pet? Do you have space for a dog, who needs to run around, or do you just have enough space to clear papers off your desk for a fishbowl?
  • Can you afford the pet? Pet food is expensive, and not all pets can eat human food. You have to be prepared to feed them what THEY require for good health, not what you think they should eat. Forget about giving the dogs the scraps off your table, and asking them to go rummage for more in the dumpster. If your dog is in the dumpster, you shouldn’t be allowed to keep one!
  • Do you love animals? That is the ultimate question. If you cannot stand cats and their purring, for heaven’s sake, don’t get one. If you don’t like dogs and think their barking drives you insane, then tell the kids that dogs cannot be allowed into the home. If you’re allergic to their fur, then find a furless pet, if you can stand the sight of it. Or keep a reptile.

Take your time before you get that dog, a Great Dane who will fill up your living room without even standing up to his full height, knocking off things with his wagging tail. Or that cat who you can’t leave home alone for the two weeks you go traveling. Figure out exactly what your routine is and if you can rework it around your pet.

Sounds like a lot of work and effort to keep a pet, right? RIGHT!