By Diane Pomerance, Ph.D.
"Pet Parenthood: Adopting the Right Animal Companion for You" is a book that belongs in every pet lover's library. It is an invaluable resource for those interested in adopting a pet, but who aren't quite certain as to which one is appropriate for them. It assists them in making an intelligent and compassionate decision which will ultimately have profound emotional and spiritual ramifications.
As guardians or stewards of our animal companions, we are their "parents" and caregivers. Once we have carefully thought about and made the decision to adopt an animal companion, we share a sacred contract with them and a lifetime commitment to provide the highest quality of life we can for these loving and loyal creatures who ultimately become our best friends, devoted companions and beloved family members.
Before we adopt an animal companion, we must conduct research and learn as much about the type of animal we are thinking of bringing into our homes and family lives. What are our responsibilities to them? What obligations do we have to them? Are we flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate their needs for appropriate shelter, a sound and nutritional diet, regular exercise, and plenty of tender loving care and attention? Do we have adequate space in our hearts, homes and lives for them? Do we travel frequently? Do we work long hours away from home? And will they be "latch-key"pets - alone most of the time and waiting for us to return to them? Can we cope with destructive behaviors such as chewing, clawing, tearing, peeing and pooping, vomiting, etc. in our homes? Do we have the financial capabilities to provide spaying or neutering, vaccinations and proper veterinary care to ensure the health and well being of these animals? Most importantly, do we have the desire and ability to love, nurture, provide care for and interact with them daily? Are we willing to care for them for the duration of their lives - no matter how old and feeble and frail they may grow and how much veterinary care they may require?
Our animal companions come into our lives for many reasons. They truly are our friends, teachers, healers and guides. They offer unconditional love and acceptance. They teach us patience and loyalty, devotion and forgiveness and so much more! They are there for us no matter what! Far too many pet owners all too readily discard and disregard their older and ailing pets giving little thought and consideration to the beauty, nobility and significance of the lives entrusted to our care.
Our animal companions are pure of heart and vulnerable. They are the most loyal and devoted and steadfast of our friends and companions, teachers and guides. They share our daily lives our deepest secrets and feelings and many of our most meaningful and memorable moments and life experiences. Through our relationship with them, we learn so much about ourselves as well as life and death.
Pet Parenthood requires us to examine the meaning and magnitude of our decision to adopt a pet and to carefully consider the significance and relationships with the animal companions with whom we choose to spend our lives. It asks us to make a responsible choice, and if we do,decide to adopt a pet, to give it the deepest love and affection and the best care we can possibly provide."
Adding a pet companion into your family is not a decision to be made lightly or without serious thought put behind it. Pet Parenthood is a wonderful book that should be mandatory reading before someone runs down to the local animal shelter or pet store and picks up the cute little puppy in the window. Animals are not disposable property, but living beings that deserve all the same respect that is required to make the decision to adopt a two-legged child. Having been a part of animal welfare for over fifteen years, it breaks my heart to see the neglect and abandonment of so many family pets because their human parents are unable to cope with other parts of their life, or made an impulsive decision without consideration of all the time and effort required to raise a four-legged family member. A must-read for all pet lovers and for those wanting to find the right pet that will fit into their lifestyle and family.