Dear Karen Kaye,
I am a 27-year-old single male who lives alone. I know I would like a pet, but I do not know if I am ready for that responsibility. Help me with this decision.
The ‘dog days of summer’ is a great time to adopt a pet and make them part of your family, while your schedule may be a little lighter. There are many factors to consider. Do you have the time, money, and space for a pet? If not, are you ready to create this possibility?
At age 27, learning about responsibilities outside the ones for your self, is a good reality check and “dry run” to someday be a partner and have a family (if those are wants of yours). For single people, pets not only fill the home, giving you a reason to come home; they also fill your heart, ridding you of some of your loneliness. For couples and families, they add to the home environment, entertainment and fun. Children can also be taught responsibility while caring for their pets. Pets give so much more than they require: unconditional love, exercise, and they force their owners to create some structure in their lives.
From a health and healing perspective, pets can help lower blood pressure and improve your overall mental health; a best friend that is always there, just for you. Animals are Zen Masters, naturally, who teach us how to just “be.” From a consciousness perspective, pets are beings that are helpless and need our support. As the economy worsens, more pets will need good homes. I would suggest that you ask yourself if you have the ability and are ready to give and to be counted upon; based on your need to stretch and grow. Remember, as with any relationship, there will be challenges as well as victories. If you go in with the right intentions, the rewards will by far outweigh any cost. Be prepared though for an adjustment period for a few weeks or months.
From a practical perspective, there are pet walkers, pet sitters and pet insurance. You could start a pet co-op where neighbors could help each other care for their pets. Some people prefer to own two pets, so the pets can keep each other company when no one else is home. If you are still unsure about getting a pet, you can offer to care for a friend’s pet and/or volunteer at a local animal shelter to see what caring for a pet truly entails.
Karen L. Kaye, LMHC