Best friends are hard to come by.
Unlike in your school days, the at-the-ready classmate, roommate and teammate connections are no longer there. Establishing friendships requires a lot more time and effort out in the real world.
In the mean time, you’d still like the connection and acceptance a best friend can give.
What can you do? Consider adopting a pet.
It’s no secret owning a pet improves our lives. Pets help reduce stress, prevent depression, alleviate anxiety and so much more.
You’ll be amazed by the full list of benefits. It’s also no secret it’s a big commitment to take on, and one not to be made lightly.
Better yet, adopting a pet is a great way to incorporate the joys and benefits of a BFF into your life, quickly and easily.
Here are the reasons why you should do it:
1. Give your social life a boost.
The pet-owning world is big, wide and full of fun, interesting people.
As a pet owner, you’re automatically part of the group. Pet-centered clubs and organizations are everywhere in every neighborhood.
Meet-up groups, dog parks, pet expos and fun runs are all at your fingertips. You also have reliable icebreakers and conversation-starters for any social event.
2. Kick the couch potato habit.
As a pet owner, you have a reason to turn off the TV and get off the couch.
Not only will you burn calories, you’ll also get a mood boost from interacting, playing and connecting with your animal.
3. Improve your self-growth.
Caring for an animal requires you to put your pet's needs first, be open to change and roll with adversity. It hones your empathy.
It can reveal your hidden strengths, and give you the opportunity to work on your weaknesses in a safe, accepting environment. This is a skill set you can apply to other areas of your life.
4. Experience a long-term relationship.
Adopting a pet is a long-term commitment. Most animals live upward of 15 years.
The owner-pet relationship is a lifetime bond and is very special. Fostering and maintaining it requires communication, commitment, compassion and diligence.
This is good practice for future relationships.
5. Bask in unconditional love.
Had a crappy day at the office? Feeling lonely, broken or damaged? Need a hug?
Pets don’t judge.
They love you unconditionally. Not only does this help you through the hard days; it gives you a friend to enjoy the good days with as well.
Adopting a pet is exciting, momentous and life-changing.
Getting the right pet is pivotal.
If you ever wonder where to get your pet from, don't worry. There are so many options.
As you might suspect, matchmaking apps for owners and pets are out there. They’re a great place to browse and get a feel for what kind of pet you’re drawn to.
However, after swiping right on your furry friend, expect to put in some legwork.
Researching breeds, talking to pet owners and getting face-to-face with animals ensures you find your perfect match.
The process starts with a critical choice: adopt or buy.
There are numerous places to adopt or buy a pet. Most people adopt from animal shelters, as they’re known, established and regulated.
It’s also possible to adopt from friends and neighbors.
Buying purebred animals is a hot topic.
You’ll find owners with strong opinions for and against it. As with anything, there are pros and cons for adopting and buying.
Research and self-education are your responsibility. Here's a look into some of our options:
1. Adopting Through An Animal Shelter
According to ASPCA, an estimated 7.6 million animals (approximately 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats) enter United States animal shelters every year.
Approximately 2.7 million of those animals are euthanized annually.
For many pet owners to be, this is reason enough to adopt a pet via an animal shelter. Other pros include:
-A wide selection of animals
-Inexpensive adoption fees
-Free or significantly reduced spay and neuter charges
Adopting from an animal shelter also presents an opportunity to make a social contribution.
For instance, using an animal shelter keeps funds from inhumane operations, such as puppy mills. Reducing the number of euthanized animals saves cities, counties and states millions in tax dollars.
You’re also participating in and supporting local efforts surrounding the welfare and management of stray animals in your community.
Of course, adopting from animal shelters has its drawbacks.
You may not get the breed you want, you’ll have to answer a lot of personal questions, you may not qualify for the animal you want and you won’t know the animal’s complete background or breed.
Don’t let these discourage you from taking this route. As the saying goes, “Nothing worthwhile ever came easily.”
A potentially great pet is definitely worth a try.
2. Buying From A Breeder
This is the direction to go if you have your heart set on owning a specific breed. If this is the case, please dedicate time to thorough research and comprehensive due diligence.
It’s very easy to inadvertently support puppy mills and similar inhumane animal-producing organizations.
Reputable breeders are out there.
The best way to find one is through referrals. Ask around. Be prepared to visit the facility, meet the animals and have a two-way conversation about the transaction.
Ask for references and contact them. The Humane Society of the United States has a comprehensive checklist online here.
You’ll also want to put time into researching your chosen breed.
What are its characteristics? What are common health concerns? Are there prevalent inbreeding issues?
You may discover issues you didn’t know about, which could affect your choice.
Going through a breeder is expensive. Most reputable dog breeders charge $500 per puppy at a minimum. This fee usually includes the dog’s initial round of shots, but does not cover anything else.
Expect to pay for two to three rounds of additional immunizations, as well as any spay and neuter fees. Purebred cats have similar expenses.
Buying a purebred animal does have its perks. For one, it eliminates a plethora of unknowns. You know exactly where the animal is from, you know its lineage and you know its history.
You know what to expect in terms of its disposition and future health concerns. If you do have questions or concerns, you’ll have access to an expert, namely the breeder.
There are also numerous local, state and national groups specializing in specific breeds. They can provide expert information and networking opportunities.
Owning a pet is a life-changing experience.
From boosting your social life to strengthening your self-growth, your pet will enhance every aspect of your world.
Making an educated choice on what type of pet you get and where it comes from will ensure your new best friend fits both your lifestyle and your personality.
After that, it’s all about having fun and sharing experiences together.