Page 22 - Alaska Parent Spring 2019
P. 22

 ask the expert: the middle years
Q
   These are excellent questions which require A your serious consideration prior to bringing a
dog home; pets are not disposable, property or possessions. They become our responsibility like the well-being of every family member, and they’ll need our dedication, care and commitment over their entire lifetime.
Even if your child is going to be charged with the day- to-day care of your pet, parents need to factor into their decision the lifetime expenses associated with owning a dog to ensure the animal’s quality of life will not suffer. Dogs require food, treats, toys, accessories (i.e. leash, collar, boots, coat). There are vet bills, emergency vet bills, illnesses, training expenses, pet sitter fees, senior pet care expenses and the list goes on. If finances and a lifetime commitment are non-issue for the parents, then you can move forward.
Age is relative; two 8-year-old children can have
two significantly different levels of commitment and responsibility. If you’re uncertain that your child “can go the distance,” make a deal and test his resolve by having him contact a local veterinarian’s office to see if they have any odd jobs he can volunteer for. The education he could obtain there would be priceless! He can also volunteer at a shelter or a rescue organization, or maybe there’s a dog in
Our 8-year-old wants a pet and promises he will care for it. We know his intentions are good, but are afraid that after a few months and a busy schedule, he may lose interest in those tasks. Any tips for choosing the right pet for our child and is he old enough for a pet?
your neighborhood he can offer his free services to walk and feed. Let your friends and family know he is available to pet sit for them, and if he still wants a dog after caring for them for several months, you’ll know he is making an educated informed decision and understands the responsibility.
Be sure to give your son the “tools” he will need to properly care for the animals. When it comes to choosing the right pet, unfortunately all too often people select a dog based on its looks, when we should be matching an animal’s lifestyle to our own. The secret to living a long and happy life together begins with thoughtful and serious assessment of your needs. Consider your family’s schedule and exercise level, and then target a breed that complements your situation.
There are seven different dog breed groupings; you can find an excellent breakdown by grouping, along with the breeds within each group, on the American Kennel Club website: akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/what-are- breed-groups.
 {Terry McCoy is a certified animal behaviorist and trainer. She’s the owner } of Pawsitively Loved located in the valley providing care, boarding, training and healing therapy to domestic and farm animals alike.
Visit pawsitivelyloved.com.
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