Finding The Best Pet
We are currently looking for the best pet for our family. I’ve wanted a pet
for the kids for several years.
I grew up with pets. I’ve had practically every kind of pet. Dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, chickens, a lizard and even a couple of yabbies called Cherax and Destructor.
Having a pet is a hugely rewarding experience. For me it is that relationship and bond that makes having a pet worthwhile. There’s something really special about being able to communicate and connect with animals.
What We Want In A Pet
- A pet that can form a loving bond with our family
- Somewhat clean and low maintenance
- Affordable – not just the initial purchase, but ongoing costs need to be considered
- Rental property friendly
- Safe FOR the children
- Safe FROM the children
And most importantly for me is a pet that we can provide it a home for the remainder of it’s whole life. It’s a commitment I take very seriously.
So, here are all the animals we’ve considered and why they do or don’t fit our family. I also asked our readers about their pets and why they’re the right pet for their family, and I’ve quoted a few of them in this article.
I’m actually fairly allergic to cats, so they’re not really on our list of potential pets, but I thought they still deserve a mention. I’m a bit envious of people who do have cats, because they tick so many of our boxes. Most cats are pretty clean once they’re trained to use a litter box, and generally aren’t as demanding as dogs – plus you don’t have to walk them. When I did have a couple of cats it felt more like having an affectionate, furry housemate than a pet. They were so low maintenance, but with all the benefits of having someone furry to cuddle on the couch at night.
“Our cat is still very much a kitten, and he’s an indoor former stray. His prey drive is strong, so stalks anything (including hair still attached to little girl’s heads). He sits on command and waits to eat his food (just like his canine brother). He is very loving when things are quiet, but doesn’t like loud sounds.”
My first choice for a family pet would be a dog. If it was entirely up to me, money wasn’t a fact and I could throw caution to the wind – I would rush out and buy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are my absolute favourite breed of dog for SO many reasons.
One of the reasons that I don’t even consider it an option though is my partner very firmly against dogs being inside. At all. Ever.
So I’ve spent a lot of time researching dogs that are capable of living outdoors, and also make good family pets – but here’s the catch; dogs who love being part of a family generally don’t do so well mentally and emotionally if they’re then locked outside all the time. The advice I keep reading is essentially if you want a dog who’s going to be a member of your family, then they need to be allowed to at least sleep inside.
“We have a Murray River Retriever puppy. Up sides, Adorable, cutest ears ever, make us exercise, very sweet, loves cuddles, and swimming, adores our son, which is mutual, he is super easy going and loves everyone.”
My partner’s number one concern when it comes to choosing a pet is how much mess it will make, which is why he has a strong preference for a fish. Though, fun fact, fishes are the messiest pet we’ve ever owned. My partner had a 4 foot tropical tank which was his pride and joy… but while we were still setting it up the seal one on corner burst open and dumped a hundred litres of water on the carpet
NOT SO CLEAN ARE THEY NOW! HUH!?!?!
Fish also don’t at all meet any of the emotional, bonding, connection type requirements. So – moving on.
“We have some gold fish. they are nice and therapeutic, but take up heaps of time. Much more effort than we expected.”
Rabbits/Guinea Pigs/Mice/Rats – etc
This is the type of pet I’ve put the most thought into. Rodents that can live indoor in a cage. That solves the problem of banishing a pet to the backyard, while limiting their mess to a confined space. Their cages still require REGULAR cleaning, or else they start to stink, but a well maintained cage generally doesn’t stink up too badly.
Mice and Rats
Mice and rats are a little too fragile for my kids – at this stage. I also wouldn’t get them until my kids are old enough to be responsible for getting them back in their cage without help when they end up escaping and hiding somewhere in the house (from experience – it’s usually up inside the couch)
“We have pet rats! Well, we have 1, the other 2 died, which is one of the best part about rats (from a parent perspective) is they have a short life span (2-3 years) so aren’t a life long commitment (but then you have to deal with child sadness), they are easy to care for and are hilariously funny and friendly, and full of personality, they are happy to sit on your shoulder or climb all over you. Love them.”
Guinea Pigs are okay. They’re a little less breakable, and also not quite as good at being escape artists, but I don’t really think of them as much more than furry potatoes, and I think generally the most you can expect out of a relationship with a Guinea Pig is that they can tolerate you.
“Guinea Pigs – the only good thing about them is that they teach kids about life and death. Most underwhelming pets ever.”
I really love rabbits. A rabbit is up pretty high on the list of pets that would suit our family. Especially if I could convince my partner that it’s okay to let the rabbit hop around the house, as I have had a house trained rabbit (you can teach them to use a litter box). They do make pretty amazing pets. As tempting as the sweet little dwarf and miniature rabbits are – for our family with younger children I would opt for a full sized rabbit. Bigger rabbits also are generally a little less nervous and you can really cuddle them.
“We have a free range house and garden rabbit who is delightful. Eats kitchen scraps, is toilet trained, hops up for cuddles obeys basic instructions.”
Chickens can be fantastic family pets. Growing up we had a chicken run, which was established by our parents for the purpose of producing eggs. Those layer chickens were purchased as pullets (almost adults) and never really formed any kind of connection with us. However, I was also given a couple of day old chicks to raise during the summer holidays when I was twelve. At the end of the holidays they went outside with the adult chickens, but they were permanently bonded to me. Be aware if you just want them for eggs they will live on for years after they stop laying.
“Chickens are great pets if you have space. They are easy to care for, love your kitchen scraps, and reward you with eggs. They can be very tame, follow you around, and aren’t adverse to a cuddle.”
The first thing to decide when choosing a bird is do you want a pet that you can get out of their cage and play with, or do you prefer one that can live quite happily if you leave them alone. Birds like finches, canaries and lovebirds can be kept in pairs and don’t necessarily need to be handled.
If you’re looking for a more tamable bird parrots are generally a good choice. Budgies and cockatiels are inexpensive and don’t need as much space as some of the bigger parrots. Though they are a little fragile and can be nervous, so they need lots of gentle – well supervised – handling.
“[We have] a budgie. Sings a lot. Not hand tamed thus will nip. Girls love changing the seed.”
At this stage we haven’t made a final decision, but we *may* have found a sweet one year old cockatiel that we’d like to adopt. I will definitely update if and when we make a decision about what is the best pet for our family!