Text by Sheila Guenther
Part two of lifestyle pets will focus on what animal fits in with where you live. Whether you live in an apartment, a condo, on a farm, or own your own home, you will have to consider what kind of animal fits in with your accommodations. Many apartments and condos have ‘no pet’ rules, but they generally do not include fish. So if you are living in an apartment then you would go with something smaller like a fish tank, provided you are careful and do not let the whole thing come crashing down on your floor. If that happens you risk facing the wrath of the apartment manager. I must admit I struggle with the idea that someone can tell you what you can or cannot have in regards to pets in an owned condo, but the rules are set out when you buy, so either abide by them or find another place.
If you own your own home there is generally no one to say what you can or cannot have; this is where common sense comes in. You have to work out how much time you have to give to your pet, how big it is…etc. If you have a small yard and small house, then a 150 pound mastiff would not be the dog for you. They need room to move around since their long tails tend to whip things and they cut themselves. Are you home enough to look after it, give it the attention it needs, or the training that is necessary? If not then maybe you need a cat, or a small dog like a Cocker Spaniel or a Shih Tzu. Please do not think I am recommending these dogs as better than other ones, they just came to my mind while writing. As far as I am concerned all dogs can be great pets; it is the owners who generally need more guidance in training them to be the wonderful pets they can be.
If you are on a farm, then the role of your dog changes and it becomes a part of the workings of the farm, not just a pet any longer. A farm dog has a dual role as protector and pet. The dog that warns you when strangers enter your property also alerts you to skunks, or chases them away. Traditionally a farm dog doesn’t live inside the house, but will have its own accommodations outside. This is not cruel; it is what is best for the dog, and helps him to perform his job. Is the dog neglected? No! On the contrary, it generally goes with their owners everywhere — to the field, checking the cows, making its master’s job much easier.
Cats also play an important role on a farm; they protect and keep the mouse population under control. Often farm cats are not spayed because one cat alone will not be able to do the job, whereas the dog may be spayed or neutered so it is not distracted by things in spring, and wandering off to neighbouring farms. Generally a farm dog will be of the bigger variety, i.e. Border collies, which need to work, or suffer if it does not get the exercise it needs. German Shepherds are also working dogs and can herd with the best of them. These are both thinking dogs, and need roles to play, it is what they were bred for.
Fish are of no real value to a farm, in regards to the workings of it. Can a fish attack a strange animal that has invaded the yard? A fish is nothing more than a pet, plain and simple, same with a budgie, a parrot, or any other exotic pet. A person has to look at the differences in roles an animal can play in their lives, working animals and pets. Both are loved and cared for, both have roles to play. The farm animal works, protects and loves; the house pet can play the same role, except it is done within the house, as opposed to living outside.
In the end a person has to consider what the animal was particularly bred for. Working dogs work, Sporting dogs hunt, Terriers dig and hunt mice and skunks. In fact any vermin that comes into the yard will fall prey to a terrier. To take these dogs and not give them something to do will often create problems within a home, usually a destructive personality. They are active animals and must have their minds stimulated. On the other hand try to make a Maltese or a Shih-Tzu a herding dog, while they may be able to perform some parts of farm life they are not suited to the rugged lifestyle that would be required, and their coats would never hold up, it would be a matted mess in a few days.
More dogs end up in the pound due to the fact that their owners did not think things through enough before buying the animal, and end up thinking the animal was just bad to begin with. Did you know that dog movie trainers often go to pounds in search of dogs that have been misunderstood? What had been taken for brainless often times turned out to be just a frustrated dog that was given nothing to do and turned destructive. These dogs needed to do something, and often once a trainer gets them they turn out to be extraordinary, wonderful performers, smart and willing to please.
Whatever choice you make in a pet, research it well, and learn what the breed was bred to do. Ask yourself, can I deal with this; will I be able to spend the necessary time with it? Success is in your hands; you will make or break the animal you choose, so choose carefully.