Finding the right pet is an art. First, you have to, as the Greeks, said, “Know thyself.”
Some people want a high-energy dog because they have active lifestyles they want to share with a buddy. They want companions who will hike, run or play in the salty surf with them. If this is you, then kudos. Every animal shelter has, waiting just for you, several dogs who got returned because their people wanted to channel surf, leaving the exercise-craving pooch to resort to finding her own hobbies, like shoe-chewing, furniture un-upholstering or, sadly, sometimes chronic licking and other self-destructive behaviors.
If you are a reader, a dreamer, or a couch-potato, consider a low-energy friend (which doesn’t necessarily mean small). If you have lots of patience, maybe you are open to adopting a sweet-but-shy pet who might be overlooked by everyone else. These may be harder to spot at the shelter because they won’t be clamoring for attention.
If visitors keep your front door swinging, choose an outgoing breed that likes people. Consult the Petfinder dog breed list to learn the characteristics of common dog breeds.
If you aren’t home much, consider adopting a cat. Cats have incredibly unique personalities, ranging from super social to almost reclusive, but they are typically more self-sufficient than dogs, thanks to the litter box. New technologies in litter have jettisoned cat-parenting to easier and cleaner than dog parenting, a welcome change for long-time cat lovers but also cool for anyone who hasn’t yet had the joy of sharing a home with cats.
Cats do better when adopted in pairs, and you can have your pick of personalities at the shelter since cat adoptions still lag (sadly and inexplicably) behind dog adoptions. Adopting two is especially rewarding when you consider that cats are only half as likely as dogs to leave shelters alive (based on national statistics).
If you want kittens, wait for the spring and summer for the best selection at the shelter. If you are motivated by doing good, adopt an adult cat, whose fully formed personality will increase the likelihood that you’ll get a feline that fits your family.
Dogs and cats aren’t the only possibilities. Rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and other small pets make interesting companions.
If you are being pressured to get a pet by your kids, your spouse or your doctor (it really is true that pets can reduce your blood pressure and combat depression), focusing on the right personality to match your lifestyle may increase the chances that you, like most of the rest of us, will soon meet that one pet that opens your heart and hijacks it for evermore. Countless Happy Tails came to us at Petfinder describing just this phenomenon. “My husband wanted a dog and I went along with it… but now I can’t imagine life without [Buffy, Max, Pinto, Bella, and on and on].”
Each animal waiting for adoption, regardless of breed and animal type, is an individual with potential personality ranges as different as can be. So get the right pet for your family and reap the rewards of the kindest most loyal relationship of your life.