You enjoy spending time watching cute dog videos online. You visit and play with your friends’ dogs whenever they let you. Or your children just can’t stop begging you to get a dog every single day. Until a point which you think the idea of having a dog in your life seems….so right and perfect! Hold on! Assess how ready you are before your are screwing the life of an animal and yours!
1. Can you commit and allocate time for your pet?
– I can feed and play with the dog.
– I will make time to walk the dog twice a day. Or I cannot walk the dog twice a day, but I can get someone else to do it on my behalf.
– I can stay with the dog at least 15 hours a day or someone else at home can do that.
– I am prepared to research thoroughly on pet care knowledge and dog behaviour.
– I am prepared to help my new dog get used to a new environment and embrace any of his or her unexpected and seemingly undesirable behaviour in the first few months.
– I am willing to sacrifice some “going out late with friends” time and instead spend time with my dog.
The more “yes” you say to the above, the more ready you are to embrace a new and rewarding life with a dog. Please recognise the fact that dogs are social animals who need a lot of our attention, much more than any other pets. Most people underestimate the time needed to care for a dog until the dog develops behavioural problems or separation anxiety which the dog gets unjustly blamed for.
2. Will the pet you want fit your lifestyle?
Here we are talking about energy level, habit and etc. Yours and your potential furry companion’s. Are you an active type who often go run and hike? And do you want a dog whom you can do these outdoor activities with? Or do you actually want your dog of mellow character to chill with?
3. Research, research and research
Do you marry someone without knowing his or her lifestyle and personality? Do you get a car without knowing its horsepower? Getting a dog is a lifetime commitment of at least ten years, you’ve got to know as much as possible e.g. energy level of the dog breed, breed-specific disease predisposition and etc. For example, if you are severely allergic to dust and dog hair, it’s natural for you to choose a type of dog who sheds the least.
Don’t be tempted to just choose a pet based on appearance. The best way to get to know an animal is to meet and interact with the dog first but without jumping to a judgment too soon (because the dog might get a bit too nervous at the first encounter with you or in a new environment). Many animal shelters host adoption days everywhere and have their doors open for you to come meet the lovely animals waiting for a home. These give you opportunities to know the dogs before getting the one.
4. Are you financially ready? Are you willing to get yourself ready in the near future?
Time commitment, checked! Effort, checked! It’s time to talk about money. Some people say four million Hong Kong dollars required to raise a child, it can sound a bit of an exaggeration as children will grow up and start earning money to support themselves. As for pets, no, they won’t go out and earn money!
Beside the usual pet supplies, food and grooming your dog needs repeatedly, health-related expense is not something you should take lightly. For example, vaccinations are needed at an early stage of a pet’s life at around $1,500+ in total, followed by vaccination booster each year. An annual body check with blood test (around $1,200 – $1,800) shall be carried out usually after 6 or 7 years old. If a surgery is involved, usually the cost starts from $25,000 but vary depending on the complexity of the surgery, what diagnostic tests need to run, whether hospital stay and blood transfusion ($6,000+) needed.
To have yourself financially ready for unforeseeable (but really foreseeable) expenses, you can opt for saving up and put money in a “fund”, and/or buy pet insurance, and take preventative measure against possible health issues.
Suggested reading: Where can I adopt a dog in Hong Kong?
Suggested reading: 5 must-have items before bringing your new dog home
Suggested reading: Proper vaccinations help keep your cost down