Not ready for a full-time Fido?

Sometimes the best way to love a dog is not to get one

So you love dogs, but you’ve realized you’re not quite ready to become a full-time dog-owner?

Thank you for being honest with yourself. You can breathe a sigh of relief because you’ve saved yourself the misery and guilt that many people feel when they jump into dog ownership and then realize they it’s just not working—for them or for Fido.

But don’t fret! There are still lots of ways to have animal companionship in your life. Consider these alternatives to full-time dog ownership:

Temporary Fidos

  • Dog-sit for neighbours, family, or friends who are travelling or just want a break
  • Borrow a friend’s dog for a walk; maybe even set a regular walking date every few days or once a week
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter. Many humane societies and SPCAs have dog-walking and cat-playing programs
  • Foster a dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. This can be an extremely rewarding way to help a dog for a few weeks to a few months at a time. Most shelter and rescue groups cover the cost of food, medicine, and vet visits for your fosterlings, so it won’t cost you a dime.

How about Fluffy?

tabby portraitMeow. Want to know why dogs drool, and cats rule?

First of all, we don’t pant. And we’re more capable of taking care of ourselves than our canine counterparts. I do my business discretely in a litter box, without any training or supervision needed, thank you very much.

But contrary to popular belief, I’m not totally “independent” and aloof. In fact, I need:

  • Your companionship. I can be happy enough alone during the day, but please don’t leave me alone every evening too! I crave time with you to cuddle, play, or just help you read your newspaper.
  • Regular play sessions to keep me mentally stimulated and fit.
  • Toys, a play structure to keep me fit, or a window I can look out of will keep me amused when you’re not home.
  • If you don’t want me to scratch your furniture, then I’m going to need a few scratching posts.
  • Occasional grooming. I do my best to keep myself clean, but I’ll need to be brushed regularly too.
  • Regular cleaning of my litter box, every day. I’ll cover my “business” up, but you’ll have to change the litter!
  • Food, bedding, toys, supplies, and health care. (Yes, I do need regular vet care, just like Fido!) Please budget for $500 to $1,500 a year, and $1,000 to $2,000 during the first year if I’m a kitten.
  • Your promise to care for me as long as I’m around, which if we’re lucky could be 20 years or more!”

Interested in a cat? Check out Where to get a cat? (from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies)

…Or another furry friend?

hamsterRabbits, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs… yes, that’s right, rodents can be pets too—and we’re not just for kids!

While we usually require less time, work, or money than a dog or cat, taking us home is still a commitment. Here’s what we need:



  • A clean cage with space to run around and play structures to keep us fit, like wheels and other toys
  • Regular handling and interaction with people. Many of us like cuddling too!
  • Food, bedding, toys, supplies, and health care. (Yes, we do need regular vet care!) Please budget for about $400 to $600 a year, and $700 to $850 during the first year if I’m a baby.
  • Your promise to care for us as long as we’re around, which could be 3 years or more.”

Interested in a small furry friend? Learn more from these fact sheets on pet gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, and rabbits.

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