Callie's Question Corner

Choosing a Pet

Because of the work I've done in dog rescue, I'd rather see someone get the RIGHT pet -- rather than something that won't "fit" their family for the long haul of 'real life.' When I saw Sarah's post on Allpets, this was my first email back to her: -

Hi, I saw your posting on www.allpets.com.

Please please think about this one thing BEFORE you try really hard to get any pet. I work a LOT in animal rescue. I see all kinds of animals ALL the time that come from homes where someone got an animal that they couldn't keep. The ANIMAL is the one who suffers. Please don't forget that. They have feelings -- they get attached to their human and feel bad when they are gotten "rid of".

Practical suggestions: Chinchillas tend to be pretty nasty little critturs. In fact, anything like that, including ferrets, tend to only be "nice" while they are babies -- they bite A LOT and don't bond to humans very well. And their cages get to be pretty stinky. Trust me .. a bad kitty box smells GOOD in comparison! UGH!!!

A couple of small animals that can be a LOT of fun are rabbits and guinea pigs. Now, bunnies are soft and cute, and if you get a baby, they are trainable -- you do want one young enough to bond with you. If you're patient they can be litter-trained or you can keep them caged. Do get JUST ONE. If the bunny has YOU for company, it won't need to mate. BUT (and this is a big one!) some people are VERY allergic to rabbits and if allergies are a problem in your house, then no bunny! Hamsters aren't a favorite of mine. They are really pretty stupid and they're pretty delicate. It's hard to play with them and not hurt them. And boy they get lost so easily! But, you can get pretty neat guinea pigs. If you get one, JUST GET ONE! Else you'll be swimming in guinea pigs and once they have a mate, they won't bond well with you either! There are short-haired guinea pigs and long-haired angora ones - big enough to be able to pet and play with, yet not as elusive and easily lost as something small.

You know, Allpets have a great section they call Parade of Breeds. It divides dogs into the normal "categories" (have you ever watched the Westminster Dog Show on tv???) like working dogs, herding dogs, sporting dogs, etc. For example, a sheltie is a "herding dog" because originally they were bred in Scotland to herd sheep. A retriever is a hunting dog. They have pics of all the dogs and they list the personality traits. Check out the search feature too .. I wonder what you'd get if you searched for guinea pig?

I don't like cats very much, but I came so close yesterday to getting a little kitten. I was at my grandma's house when we were going to tear down this wooden formation/platform thing. My uncle came inside saying it was a home to some racoons or something. I went outside with him and saw the mother cat jump over the fence. I moved a couple of wooden planks and saw the cutest little black and white kittens. They were too young to even know to try and bite me, and I held them all. When the mother didn't come back, we kept them in a box and tried to give them some milk. That's when we realized I couldn't have one because they were so young they hadn't been weaned yet. We left the box by the fence for the mom, and later, she came and took them away. They were soooooo cute and sweet!
Glad you left all those babies for the mommy cat. They always seem to come back after the kits. Teeny kittens are hard to raise like that.
I get a puppy for my birthday!!!

I need your advice on getting a small, short-haired puppy that rarely barks, won't mind being left at home until I get back from school, is not notorious for health problems, etc.
By "small, short-haired" I'm assuming you mean that it will stay "smaller" after fully grown? And what's the reasoning behind "short-haired"? So it hopefully won't shed?

Very, very often (and some of this is a training issue) small dogs have a reputation for being barky and noisey ("yappy" is the word most often used). Because they are smaller their vocal chords are shorter and the sound they make is therefore higher pitched (which some people find really annoying)! BUT this CAN be something that you make a big priority in training.

Now, the absolute BEST BEST BEST thing about a small dog is that they tend to live MUCH longer, Sarah. A big, big dog like a great dane or a St. Bernard -- these dogs have a life span of only about 7-8 years!! However, a small dog very very often doesn't get "old" until they are 14 or better. In fact, I had a little part pekingese/part pomeranian who lived to be 21 years old!!

I'm going to take breed and hair together -- because hair is an issue that is SO breed specific. I'm assuming that your parents want an animal that doesn't shed, right??? Short-haired dogs DO shed, Sarah. Make sure they realize that!!!

Small (or toy) breeds that "shed less" include poodles, Bichon Frise, Jack Russell Terrier, Welsh Corgi, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Chihuahua. Now, be aware -- some of these breeds can be quite "high strung".

My personal "favorite" of that whole bunch is the Papillon.

BEST suggestion: I would NOT suggest that you get a purebred dog. Aside from the initial cost of a purebred dog (which can be several HUNDRED dollars!), a mixed breed is OFTEN much, much healthier than a purebred one! Don't think of a mutt as something "inferior". Most commonly, you'll find mixes are simply the BEST PARTS of whatever they are!!!
Thank you so much for all the advice! I would love a jack russell terrier if they didn't dig. My mother was informed that pug dogs are ugly, but adorably sweet and wonderful dogs. I was thinking either that or a little mutt.
Jack Russells are cute, but BY NATURE they are diggers! Their whole purpose in breeding for hundreds of years was to lead their owners to rat holes and dig them out!!! Pugs are 100% one of my favorite all time dogs! However, be aware -- pugs are VERY prone to respiratory problems!
How do you feel about welsh corgis? They seem like another good option. Don't shed much, sweet, intelligent, willing to please, easily trained, and CUTE.
It's a good breed. But not really common. At this point, you probably should make a list of breeds that are totally UNacceptable!! in other words -- you don't want a dog that's even PART: Labrador, Golden Retriever, Setter, Dalmatian, Doberman, Rottweiler, Shepherd (police dog) and of course Great Dane or Mastiff -- all BIG dogs and their offspring will be bigger than your folks are comfortable with.
How do you feel about dachshunds? I like them a lot, and welsh corgis, and mutts, and pugs... Whatever I find first that seems sweet, healthy, and trainable!
I'd recommend the dachshunds the LEAST. They tend to have snippy, barkey personalities and they are ALSO big diggers!!
Today, I'm going to check out this lady who lives on a farm with a litter of corgis! YEA!!! I'm so excited. She LOVES corgis and told me a whole bunch about them over the phone. They sound soooo sweet! Plus, she's a good dog raiser.

I'm starting to really like corgis! Apparently corgis are "big dogs in little bodies". They're supposed to be supersweet, easy to train, little grooming, good with people, but only moderately active, which is perfect.
The corgi probably would be 'better' than the dachshund. Corgis are much easier to get along with. More apt to be "submissive". They're "playful". They ARE strongly territorial -- meaning they're gonna be alert as to what goes on outside the house -- if you train it to TELL YOU when something's up -- it's a heck of a watchdog! But -- in "defending its territory" YOU will have to be alert -- if someone messes with its food or if kids come into your yard unannounced it's probably gonna act really aggressive. This isn't a BAD thing -- it's just a WATCH OUT FOR IT thing.
Well, I'm getting one. They are SOOOOO sweet! There are 3 in the 7 week litter: Luke, Dane, and some girl. The girl's been sold. Luke (*italic*) might be sold, she doesn't know for sure yet. He's the SWEEEETEST puppy, calm, will sit in my lap for the longest time, but can still romp around the grass with the best of them. Supersweet pup!!!

There was also Dane, who was originally the one she wanted to sell, but then said she wanted to keep him in memory of his mom, who was a really nice corgi she bonded with that got run over by a truck (:<) . That's okay with me, because Dane only liked her and growled at me when I tried to pick him up.

They're the corgis that start with P, not cardigans. I researched and they aren't very different. Nothing I'm going to REALLY worry about.. The only grooming they need is some brushing because they LOVE to be brushed :) I can't wait. They are SOOOOO sweet and fluffy and healthy and playful and wonderful and cute and calm. Can you tell I'm excited? LOL So well-behaved, I could tell them no and they would stop, even though they barely know me! He would come when I called him, let me pick him up.
My husband David is Scottish. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and part of Ireland) that is all governed by Queen Elizabeth. Pembroke Corgis are the national "pets of the Royals". David wanted me to warn you that what I said about them being territorial is VERY VERY VERY true!! They can be trained to be quite vicious!! So be careful!

This URL will give you a list of the differences between Pembrokes and Cardigans. cardigancorgis.com. It's the Pembroke that is the "royal" dog.
I get Luke, the 7 week old!!!!!! YEEEEEEAAAAA!!!! That means I get him supersoon!!!!!!!!!!!!! YYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Happy!!!
Now really dearheart -- you GOTTA work up just BIT of enthusiasm here! I mean -- how would I know you were at ALL excited? I'm so darned happy for you!!! I'm glad it's a pup that someone has taken time with and begun their training. Now the REAL work begins.

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