Finding the Perfect Pet

There are cat people, and there are dog people—or so the stereotype goes. But different breeds, different households, and individual pet personalities blur the line. Cats normally are known for their independence and aloof attitude, but most people have met at least one “dog” cat that loves to be petted and fussed over.

Finding the right pet for your family is seldom just about a favorite breed. It is a match of individual characteristics of the animal, common breed traits, the amount of care it requires, and the needs and desires of the owner.

Amber Braun, Customer Service Lead at the Animal Humane Society, states, “Some people have their heart set on a certain breed they haven’t done their research on, or they haven’t thought about the long-term needs in their household. I would definitely say that the breed choice is the number-one mistake.”

If you were raised in a family that only had dogs or cats, but you think your current household may be suited to a different kind of animal, a few Web sites that have especially helpful quizzes.

Animal Planet’s quiz is very thorough, at I took the quiz myself, and was told I should consider owning a ferret. I currently own three lovely rats, so they weren’t far off the mark.

According to Braun, rabbits often are adopted to be a child’s companion animal, but may not be the best choice.

Braun warns, “Rabbits don’t like to be handled very much, and they’re pretty independent. Most kids want something they can interact with.”

If you’re set on a dog, and are looking for a suitable breed, <> can pinpoint a few that may fit in well with your lifestyle.

Braun points out that knowledge about a specific breed, while helpful, does not guarantee a good match.

In Braun’s words, “German Shepherds are usually barkers, but we sometimes get German Shepherds that are just big, dopey dogs that like to roll around. Actually coming in and meeting with different dogs is going to give you a better idea if that dog is a good fit or not.”

Of course, there’s not a warm-hearted animal lover whose heart doesn’t melt at the sight of a cute puppy or a kitten, but Braun recommends considering the benefits of an older pet.

As Braun explains, “Puppies are a lot of work. It’s nicer to get an older dog, 2 or 3, or even older, that already has their personality, and you can tell what that animal will be like, and what they would be a good fit for.”

However, visiting a dog or cat at a shelter can be a different kind of trap, because some people assume the animal is suffering, and adopt out of pity.

Braun relates, “They’re very well taken care of [here], and once an animal is on the adoption floor, as long as their health and behavior stays OK, they remain on the adoption floor.”

The average dog only has to wait between five and seven days to find its next home.

For those who prefer to find their pet at a pet store or a breeder, Braun suggests asking questions about an animal’s upbringing and pedigree.

If allergies are a concern in your household, a breeder may be a good choice, because breed purity is not always guaranteed with dogs surrendered to a shelter.

Braun states that pet store shoppers should try to avoid buying dogs from puppy mills, which often display health problems down the road.

Many different kinds of companion animals are out there. After you’ve figured out which one may work out best in your home, sometimes, it’s best to meet as many animals you can, and let the magic happen.

As Braun puts it, “There’s no good way to explain it, but you just know when you’ve found an animal that’s good with your family.”

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