Understanding Pet Parenting: Are You Ready For It?
Are you planning to have a pet? It is exactly like having a little kid. Do you know each and every responsibility of a pet parent? As a canine trainer and behaviourist, I suggest that you think about it many times and then take the final call. For years, I have been deeply committed to serving the street animals of my locality. Recently, I had a horrific experience while organizing an adoption event for the very first time in my life. I would like to share this experience with you all.
Mithai, one of my street dogs, got pregnant in the last mating season. All my stray kids are spayed and neutered. But unfortunately, I failed to spay Mithai as she disappeared for a few days and we had to face an unwanted pregnancy. She gave birth to healthy quadruplet puppies, named Marshmallow, Meringue, Toffee and Cinnamon, on 6th December 2019. Mithai and her kiddos were enjoying a cozy winter in their warm blanket at my home. But I was really scared thinking about the future of the puppies. My plan was to get them adopted after 8 weeks and I started uploading the adoption appeal posts on social media platforms. The responses started coming in.
80% of the interested people were looking for ‘cute’ purebred dogs, even when they didn’t have a clue about bloodlines, what purebred, puppy mills, illegal breeders and female animal exploitation actually meant. They thought Indie dogs are equal to street dogs and they wouldn’t want to get them home. When people started asking me are they street dogs, I said no because they were born inside my home. After that, I faced the gender discrimination issue, common to the male-dominated society. Most of the people wanted to adopt a male puppy. But it was not a big problem for me because coincidentally I had 3 male babies and just one female. Surprisingly I saw that the so-called ‘educated’ people were completely unaware of parenting responsibilities and for the interested teenagers, a strong protest came from their guardians. They wanted to adopt a pup just as a time pass or toy for their temporary pleasure.
It was then that I came across Aishika, a college girl who agreed to fulfill all the duties and adopted Toffee, the female pup, with legal agreement papers. She got a lovely family who treats her truly like a princess.
Then the tragedy started. While I thought I found two homes for Cinnamon and Marshmallow, which were quite the opposite. Marshmallow’s family got back to me saying that the puppy is very destructive and that they were not happy with the pup. The girl, who took him to home, said that she will keep the baby at her boyfriend’s home for best comfort. But later she declared that the puppy was crying the whole night and was being considered an element of disturbance to her boyfriend’s mother. Thus, it was impossible for her to keep him anymore. At last, she gave the puppy back to me.
I heard from Cinnamon’s family after a few days too. The girl who adopted him told me that she was suffering from breathing problems and her doctor diagnosed it as pet allergy. They were so frantic about it that I was scared they may throw the puppy back to the streets. I immediately asked her to return him back.
It was then that I realized that out of four puppies, I could only give one a loving home. I assumed that the girl has no pet allergy and another one also was not much disturbed by Marshmallow. Actually, both the girls adopted the puppies as living toys and not as companions for life.
However, as we all know, there is always a silver lining. I then came across Atanu, a kind soul who had already 45+ rescued dogs. He also regularly feed the dogs of his locality. I was surprised when he wanted to adopt all the three puppies. Finally, he adopted them with agreement papers. I was the happiest foster parent to place my pups in proper families. He named them as Raja, Badshah and Samrat and keeps them like the real kings. I am truly grateful to this great person, who selflessly takes care of and provides a home to these helpless innocent creatures. He is constantly in touch with me and shares videos of the pups regularly. They are enjoying their life with many more pups out there.
From these experiences, I feel that firstly we, the animal enthusiasts have to make people understand that our Indie dogs also have specific characteristics and traits which deserve some respect. People are usually not aware of the major differences between buying and adopting pets. Secondly and most importantly, irrespective of all breeds, people who think of adopting or purchasing a dog or cat should be passionate about animals and willing to give all the attention to the fur baby just as they would to a human child.
Having a human baby is considered to be a part of life but one can’t raise a pet if she/he is not an ardent animal lover. Many people get attracted to the same seeing funny dog pictures. But this is not all about clicking happy pictures and having fun with pets. Keeping a pet is a much more serious responsibility than even raising a human baby. They should do rigorous research work about all the duties, including giving proper nutrition, training and bearing expensive vet bills for at least 12-14 years, along with providing proper pet parenting skills. Many people purchase pets without knowing anything about the details of raising a fur kid. As a result, the dogs have to suffer.
Sometimes people enjoy the ‘puppyhood cuteness’ and after that their interest disappears. It results in abandonment, which is the worst thing a pet parent can do. But most people are not interested to gather knowledge about pet parenting. If you have decided that you’re going to get a pet, please be prepared to be a parent mentally, emotionally, physically and financially, just like would-be parents get prepared for their human babies. I am sharing this from personal experience as many people laugh at me when I call my Beagle fur baby Poushali my own daughter because she is not a human being, not my biological child. But believe me, it is not really funny. If you are ready to compromise your ‘me time’ a little bit and able to keep that baby by your side and as the top priority in all life situations, only then think about having a furry child.
So, are you ready for this beautiful journey of parenthood of raising a dog or any other pet as one of your own?
PS: Sohini is a Kolkata-based Canine Behaviourist and Trainer, who gives consultation regarding dog training, behavioural issues and pet parenting. If you wish to connect with her, please feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9748237896.