Nothing says, "We're a couple," like making the decision to bring a "baby" into the picture. And by "baby," I definitely mean an adorable, furry, non-human baby that will make all of your pet-owning dreams come true. Taking the plunge and getting a pet with your partner, while totally exciting, is one step below having a kid. And similar to a having a kid, it's important to make sure your relationship is the point where it can handle the pressures of having to essentially care for another life. Though some of you may scoff at the comparison, as someone who is co-parenting sweet little kitty, bringing an animal into the picture is no joke.
So many couples decide to get a pet on a whim, without taking the time to ask themselves the important questions: Where do you and your partner see yourselves living in five years? With your current work schedules, could you walk a dog at least three times a day? If that were to change, could you afford to pay someone to walk your dog three times a day? Who's in charge of training it? The list of potential questions goes on and on. Instead of putting off the conversations until after getting a pet, only to find out that you aren't on the same page, it's a good idea to bite the bullet and hash things out before, so you can go into the commitment as prepared as possible. Here are some things you should discuss.
1. The Expenses
Animals are expensive AF, no matter which way you slice it. Are you both financially in the place where you can afford to shell out however much is needed in food, maintenance, and vet bills? TBH, this could easily end up being seriously expensive, even for a healthy pet, much less a pet who gets seriously ill.
2. The Responsibility
Cost aside, pets also require a ton of time and energy, especially puppies. Not to mention, if you and your partner plan on traveling basically anywhere and at any point in time, a pet is a whole extra life you're going to need to make arrangements for. Consider if you both have a support system of people who would be able to look after a pet if an emergency were to arise. As a cat owner, finding someone trustworthy to watch my furry friend while my partner and I are away is always in the back of my mind.
You and your partner should also talk through who's responsible for which aspects of daily care. Who will purchase food? Who will bathe the pet? Who will take it on walks? Who will make sure to change out its food and water? Who will take it to the vet regularly? Will all of these responsibilities be split evenly? If so, make sure your partner is on the same page with the nitty-gritty details.
3. Any Cons You Could Possibly Think Of
Before bringing another being into your and your partner's life, it's important to examine all of the positives and the negatives. For example, could you live with the fact that, if your partner travels for work a ton, much of the responsibility is going to fall on you? Is anyone in your family allergic? If so, then they probably won't be able to sleep at your place. If one of you is struggling with money, how would the other feel if they had to cover pet costs on their own for a month or two?
These possibilities might seem trivial now, but talking about them and having a plan of action in place now is way less awkward than trying to tackle a problem once it's already a big issue.
4. What Would Happen If You Break Up
OK, so this obviously doesn't have to be a wildly detailed conversation between you and your partner, because of course, talking about a breakup when you're in love and thinking about adding a new addition to the fam seems very unnecessary. But breakups happen all the time, and duking it out over a pet could definitely get ugly. Either way, talk about it and come up with a plan for who the pet would stay with, whether that's one person (where the other has visitation rights, if they want them) or whether you switch over from week to week.
5. If You're Both Ready To Be Pet Parents
Pets like reptiles and hamsters can be lumped into the low-maintenance category for the most part. However, if you and your partner have got your hearts set on a higher maintenance pet, then it's going to require some level of sacrifice. Sleepless nights taking the puppy out until they're trained, the long process of actually training them, and taking care of them for the next 12+ years — these are all things that are going to be required of you and your partner. If you're both actually ready, then this is something that could be an amazing bonding experience and "test" of your teamwork. If you're not, then it could cause a lot of stress for everyone involved, your pet included.
While wandering into the pet store on a whim might seem enticing, getting a pet is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Taking the time to think it through and talk about the possibilities will ensure that there is much less of a chance you'll regret your decision later down the line.
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