How to choose a puppy or kitten

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Choosing to own a puppy or cat has to begin with making sure that everyone who lives in your house is on board. If one of you is not keen, the chances are that it is not going to be a happy experience, so it might be wise to shelve the idea for now.

It is also important in the case of buying a puppy, that at least one of you is around for some of the time on weekdays. Dogs are pack animals and will become anxious and unhappy if left on their own for long periods of time on a regular basis.

So assuming you have a full house of thumbs ups, it might be worth doing a bit of research into costs before you make a final decision. These costs can include:

  • Initial purchase price which can vary between breeds and pedigrees
  • Vaccinations – cats and dogs need to be vaccinated before they can go outside to avoid catching nasty diseases
  • Spaying and neutering should you decide to take this route
  • Ongoing costs of food, flea treatment and worming
  • Insurance – an absolute must to avoid expensive vet bills should your pet have an accident or develop a long term illness.

Once you have done your research and you are still keen to take the plunge, the following pointers should be taken into account. Some of these are more applicable to dogs than cats, but either way you want to make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder rather than a ‘breeding farm’.

Pointer 1 – Make sure you are confident that the person selling puppies or kittens is a responsible breeder. Ask questions such as ‘Can I meet the mother and father’, ‘Has the puppy been fully socialised?’ Ask to see photos so you can see the surroundings that they have been born into. Of course visiting is imperative and will give you a much better feel for the breeder as well.

Pointer 2 – If a puppy or kitten is being sold as a pedigree, ask to see the paper work of the parents first.

Pointer 3 – Don’t buy from a pet shop. While smaller animals might be well-cared for, larger animals may have come from trade farms and may have health and behavioural issues as a result. What’s more, you don’t want to be supporting this kind of cruel practice.

Pointer 4 – When you go to choose a puppy, be careful that your heart does not rule your head. Choose neither the timid runt of the litter, nor the gung-ho over-confident puppy. Both are likely to have behavioural issues and while these can be overcome an experienced trainer, it’s better to opt for the well-rounded middle pup if you have the choice.

Pointer 5 – Experts advise against buying two puppies at the same time, even if they are from the same litter. However cats will thrive with company, especially if you are out at work all day.

Pointer 6 – Make sure you research different breeds before making a choice. Both cats and dogs have very different temperaments and needs depending on their breed. This is more noticeable with dogs, some of whom need a lot more space and exercise than other and there are certainly differences in ease of training too.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Of course read around, but don’t become overwhelmed. Yes, it’s an important decision and yes there are certain rules you really must follow, but common sense and some research around should see you making the right choice for you.

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Name that dawg!

Name that dog 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh the minefield that is choosing name for our new puppy! Even before we had picked our new family member, we began thinking of names and it soon became clear that coming up with one that all of us felt comfortable with was NOT going to be easy.

Still, we were confident we could come up with something more inventive than Simon Cowell’s Squiddly and Diddly and numerous discussions ensued. And talking of Simon Cowell, celebrity choices seemed to be a good place to start. Kelly Osborne’s dog is called Noodles – we decided that that would make us hungry. Britney Spear’s dog is called Lucky – given her run of bad luck in years gone by, that didn’t work out too well for her!

Noah fancied ‘Mookie’ for a boy or a girl (right fielder for the Boston Red Sox – long story but we lived in the US for a few years). We all tried it out a few times and realised we would feel a bit stupid shouting that out loud, so we put the kibosh on that. What’s more, we already have Coco (named after Coco Crisp of Oakland A’s fame!). Dylan wasn’t bothered, but wanted a girl so he could liberally sprinkle his conversation with the word ‘bitch’ and then smile sweetly and ask “What’s the problem?!”. Teenagers! We went round and round in circles and then realised we’d better wait until we knew if we were getting a girl or boy.

Girl it is! We then looked at the most popular dog names for last year:

  • Bella
  • Lucy
  • Daisy
  • Luna
  • Lola
  • Sadie
  • Molly
  • Maggie
  • Bailey
  • Sophie

Some nice ones there, but actually do we really want to choose a name that everyone else has thought of? That said, it could be worse. This next list of names is one we compiled ourselves – I kid you not, there are actually people shouting these names out loud in public parks around the country:

  • Fire
  • Taxi
  • Tripod (someone had a three-legged dog!)
  • Chow Mein
  • Fuzz Butt
  • Stinkabell
  • Stinky Baby
  • Squiddly and Diddly (I know . . . I have mentioned them before, but frankly they deserve to be on this list!)

I mean, you’d steer clear wouldn’t you?! Still, it could be worse, we could be trying to name a baby and coming up with ideas like Apple, Prince Michael II, Sage Moonblood or Fifi Trixibelle (not a bad name for a dog as it happens!), but believe it or not, there are already four youngsters out there who have already been ‘blessed’ with these names.

But as we fell about laughing at some of the ridiculous names celebrities have come up with for their unsuspecting offspring, one lingered in our minds… Blue Ivy. Well, not the ‘Blue’ bit, just the ‘Ivy’ bit. Short, sweet, fun and when we said it and looked at her picture, it felt… right! I am pretty sure that’s how it goes. All of a sudden you stumble across a name and it just feels right. Though I continue to struggle with Squiddly and Diddly, neither of which names have the X Factor!

Ivy it is!

Choices! – choosing the right puppy for us

photo-1525253013412-55c1a69a5738OMG! They are all so cute. How’s a girl supposed to decide!? OK, I need to backtrack. This is not just ‘my’ dog, it’s the ‘family’ dog, so I have to take other people into account… or at least look like I am taking them into account!

Noah: “I want a dog that can come up for cuddles on the sofa” (the rule breaker)

Dylan: “I want a medium sized dog, not too big and not too small” (he secretly wants sofa cuddles too, but he’s just too old to admit it!)

Me: “Intelligent and easy to train.. oh and its poo must smells of roses” (always the optimist!)

Ollie: “Whatever makes you all happy.” (he’s the best right?!)

Coco and Sadie (the cats): Non! Nein! Nyet! Just no! NO DOG! Please.” 

There are actual books written on choosing the right puppy for you, but frankly the decision was overwhelming enough without reading a book on the subject. I got the best advice from friends who already have a dog – people who know us, our family and how we roll. In the end found a breeder who had a litter of four cockapoos ready to leave in three weeks’ time. Yikes! This is really going to happen!

We turned up at the farm expecting to be torn and wanting to take them all home. Luckily, we all fell in love with the same one. She was flat on her back legs akimbo and  fast asleep with her little round tummy providing a bouncy pillow for her wriggling brothers and sisters. What’s more, she was a delicious brown and sable colour with unusual markings. It was love at first sight and we returned home with three weeks to prepare for the arrival of our bundle of joy!

I mean, seriously! Look at this irresistible little button-nosed dumpling!

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