The Pet Ownership Test

Owning pets is a more demanding responsibility than many people realize. Before you get a dog or cat, take time to review the questions in this pet ownership test.

| March/April 1983

For years, the domestic canine has been referred to as "man's best friend," a phrase that sums up how the millions of dog owners in this country feel about their chosen animal companions. There are, however, other folks who'd take exception to this accolade and argue that the family cat, or horse, or even snake or rat is more entitled to be called the king (or queen) of pets.

Actually, it doesn't really matter which critter you think is Numero Uno in the animal kingdom, because the fact is that a pet — any pet — can have a very positive impact on you and upon your personal health. Recent studies have shown that stroking a dog or a cat, or even simply watching fish cruise about an aquarium, can lower a person's blood pressure. (Of course, pet petting is merely a transitory way of reducing blood pressure. It's by no means a substitute for such healthful practices as a good diet and exercise!)

In addition to providing this sort of soothing effect, pets have been used in programs of therapy for schizophrenics, handicapped folks, and the elderly. In essence, however, such "new" medical announcements are only documenting what humankind has instinctively known all along: Pets are more than a luxury. To many people, they're downright necessary for happiness and wellbeing.

Because of all the benefits that animals have to offer, I believe every family should have a pet of some kind. Unfortunately, though, not every household deserves one. In order to avoid people/pet mismatches — and to give the unwary some idea of the financial, emotional, and time commitments required by a four-footed (more or less) friend — I've devised a "pet ownership test." Imagine a prospective new resident in your home asking these questions. If your household flunks the test, perhaps you should wait awhile before getting an animal, or consider one of the less demanding beasts.

Questions and Answers

1. Will I have a comfortable bed?

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