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Columns : The Pet Pages - Kim Aranha Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

To Buy, or Not to Buy
By Kim Aranha
Nov 12, 2007 - 5:19:34 PM

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The holiday season is almost upon us and we are all going over our Christmas lists, or should be, in preparation of the Christmas rush. We all want to get that perfect gift and especially, we want to give our children something that will light up their little eyes and make them jump up and down in pure and utter joy!


So we all know that the kids have been begging for a pet: Was it a puppy, kitten, a pair of turtles or a fish, perhaps a bird, hamster, or gerbil? STOP right now!

Do you really want to have a pet, or another pet, in the house?


There are a few questions that you will have to ask yourself before even deciding on anything:


  1. How old is your child?
  2. Is your child old enough to take care of the pet on his or her own?
  3. Do you have any other pets at home already?
  4. Do you want another pet?
  5. What kind of pet does you child want?
  6. Do you like that kind of animal?
  7. Can you afford this entire exercise?
  8. Do you want the added responsibility?


When you have honestly answered those eight questions then you can start to make a few decisions.


A Puppy / dog is adorable, fun, cute and irresistible BUT (there is always a but isn’t there?) they are lots of work, they grow bigger, they DO chew things (no matter what toys you give them), they require attention, they cannot be left alone at home all the time, they need regular medical visits, and they live for at least 12 years. If you are getting a dog you MUST be prepared to make it part of the family, and commit to be there for it during its entire lifetime.


A kitten / cat is much like a puppy / dog it is adorable, fun, cute and irresistible but the same medical and commitment issues apply here too. A cat is more independent though, and can be left alone at home much more easily. They can be trained to use the litter box and will be quite content to curl up on the sofa and await your return home.


Birds live in cages so they are more easily contained, but they do require daily cleaning of their cages and fresh water. Birds enjoy some human companionship but are no where near as demanding as the dog or cat. Small children need to be constantly cautioned not to fiddle with the cage door!


Hamster, gerbil, pet rat, etc…. They are very popular if you like rodents. Easily handled. Beware, they have been known to bite. When they escape they are hard to find. Some of those small furry creatures are nocturnal, which means that they sleep all day and play all night! The cleaning of cages, fresh water daily, etc. applies here too!


Fish of all types; Beta, gold fish, exotic, etc. Easier to care for, but the tank water must be kept clean, the tank light bulb must not burn out, they need to be fed daily, they can get sick and need to be watched. They are not too fussed with human companionship, they are fun to watch, and they cannot be handled!


Baby turtles: This is a great favourite! They are sweet and cute, small and defenseless, but do you know that they grow to the size of dinner plates! Where are you going to put that! Turtles need lots of attention if they are to be cared for properly. Their tanks must be kept scrupulously clean, they can develop various diseases and they need to be constantly monitored. Those dreadful little blue lagoon dish type holding tanks that people sell along with the small terrapin are adequate and not at all appropriate! You need proper turtle tanks, with swimming space. Turtles live a very long time, so think twice before you get yourself into a very long tern commitment!


Snakes, lizards, other reptiles: Many need live food, can you stomach that?


Bottom line is that ALL pets require lots of attention, and should only be purchased if you intend to see them through their entire lives. Do not buy a pet and think when they get bigger I’ll find them another home! That way of thinking is totally unacceptable and very irresponsible indeed.


Animals give their owners their all, the least we can do back is to ensure that they live safe and secure lives with us.


As far as buying pets for other people is concerned! That is a HUGE no no! Never, under any circumstances buy somebody a pet as a gift unless you already know that they want that particular animal.


If you want the pet, your kid wants the pet, then there is no more wonderful gift to give your child. Just be sure that you want it as much as they do, because, for sure, you will be most certainly involved.


About the author: Kim Aranha grew up in the Berry Islands with her first dog, a beloved potcake named “Friendly” (who was anything but!).  First educated at home, and then in boarding school in Switzerland, Kim moved to Rome, Italy in 1974 to pursue a career in the dramatic arts and ended up working as an interpreter.  She moved back to The Bahamas in 1980, and now lives in Nassau with her husband Paul, and their two teenaged sons.  Kim has 4 dogs, 5 fish (1 Beta, 4 Goldfish), 10 turtles (6 babies, 4 adolescents), 1 Asian box turtle and 4 Budgerigars. Her idea of relaxing is being home to take care of all her pets. Kim is a member of the board of the Bahamas Humane Society. Kim can be contacted at kimvba@coralwave.com

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