"Mom, can we get a Dalmatian?" Your six-year-old wants a dog. The younger one would rather have a kitten. As a parent, you know that pets can teach children important lessons about responsibility and compassion. But what kind of pet should you get the kids? Is it better to get a puppy or grown dog? Male or female? Mixed breed or pedigree?
Experts urge parents to take their time in selecting a pet for the family. There are many issues you need to thing through carefully. Keep in mind, too that the pet you bring home could be around for may years.
First, consider your children's ages and personalities, as well as the pet's maintenance requirements. Some dogs require daily grooming. Others need a lot of exercise.
If your children are young and boisterous, you won't want a delicate small dog, and you should probably rule out a kitten. Next, be realistic about your lifestyle and time constraints. Will you be the one to walk the dog, take him to the vet's and instill some training? If you barely have enough time as it is, a cat might be a better choice.
A good idea is to visit one of the many dog and cat shows that frequent Southern California. Look around, ask questions. And talk to your neighborhood vet and other families with pets. Animal shelters are also a good place to look for a pet. If you do decide on a purebred dog, the best choice is through a reputable breeder. But before making that final choice, observe the animal carefully. Whether cat or dog, a healthy pet should be alert, active and responsive, with clear bright eyes and a glossy coat.