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Having Pets

It may start with a "he's so cute!" but don't jump into owning your first pet until you have carefully thought through the implications. After all, having a pet involves another's life -- even if it is an animal.

To begin with, caring for a pet is a full time obligation. Unlike children or animals in the wild, you will need to look after your pet from the first day you take ownership until the day they die. That means, you'll have to secure food from them (whether its canned food for a dog or a live mouse for a snake), provide it to them, provide a place for them to live, see to their health, and, depending on where you live, they type of pet, and where your pet lives, you may need to take them out for exercise and bathroom breaks and clean up after them. Children can care for pets, but a responsible adult needs to oversee the care to ensure the child is caring for the animal properly. Finally, anytime you are going to be away, you'll need to have someone else come by to perform your duties for you.

That said, pets of all kinds can be a great source of learning, companionship, and may serve some practical purposes (such as a guard dog). Some couples thinking about having families have even started with a pet as a trial run to having children (with the thinking that if it doesn't work out, giving the pet away has a lot fewer emotional and legal hurdles).

Pets can be as small as ants in an ant farm or fish in a fish tank and as large as horses. Pets.come in all species, although some places ban certain species of pets as being hazardous to yourself, children, or the community at large, or to protect the animal itself. In general, the bigger a pet, the more they eat, and thus the more to keep them.

So, before you bring home a pet because he's "so cute," think through what type of relationship you want, the effort it takes to keep him, the change he will impose on your life, and the cost to care for him. Having a pet is a major commitment, so go forward carefully.

Here are some additional tips on pets:

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