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July 29, 2015

First House, First Pet

Many renters and apartment dwellers can’t wait to move into their first house for one important reason…they’re excited to have a pet! It’s true – many landlords enforce a strict “no pets” policy that makes it impossible for animal lovers to bring a friend home from a store, shelter or reputable breeder. If you’re a first time homeowner who is eager to welcome a pet (or two, or maybe more!) into your home, how do you know which friend is the best choice for you? Here are some handy hints and guidelines that can help you choose: Dogs Generally speaking (and in a very general way – remember the exception only proves the rule!) dogs are usually among the messiest pets. If you’re dirt-phobic, hate smudges and stains on your carpets or furniture and value your shoes, think twice about a bouncy young puppy. If you’re loving the idea of a dog, consider adopting an older animal or go with a breed known for its lazy temperament, like a chow chow, bulldog or lhasa apso, all known for their couch potato tendencies. You must remember to keep your dog’s nails trimmed if you have hardwood floors. Thick, sharp nails can gouge and damage the finish. Dogs also love sitting on your furniture, so be prepared to be constantly vigilant in barking (pun intended!) “Sam, get off the sofa!” Or option number two…sturdy furniture covers or bright, colorful throw blankets that double as washable protectors and decorative touches. And remember – the larger your dog is, the more space he or she will take up if you share your seating. Chewing is problem for some dogs, so consider avoiding open storage areas. Shelves, baskets and open racks might look nice, but the contents are sometimes tempting to Fido. Consider full door cabinets or fauxdenzas. (Yes, this is a word. And a really cool idea, too!) Cats While usually tidier than dogs, there are some special concerns when you’re thinking about adopting a feline companion. Scratching tends to be the most common complaint among cat owners. There are some tricks and hints that can help – and we never suggest declawing a cat. It’s similar to removing the end of a finger, which is painful and disabling. Distraction and aversion techniques work best. Many cat owners have luck with Soft Paws, a colorful claw covering that prevents your cat from destroying your upholstery and rugs. Velvety furniture is a slick solution – the nap on velvet is almost impossible for a cat to catch with her claws, making scratching on it frustrating and unsatisfying for your furry buddy. Sisal ropes are a great tool for cat-proofing your home. Take a length of rope, and loop it around furniture legs, pipes (that don’t get hot!) or basement or roof supports. Kitty will gravitate toward this lovely scratching area, and when the rope becomes worn and frayed, you can simply replace it. Litterboxes and accompanying tracking of litter and ahem…”aroma” is also a big concern. There are quite a few high-tech litterboxes available now that don’t look like litter boxes or smell like litterboxes. The Modkat is one, or you can try CatGenie. You can also get handy pieces of furniture that hide kitty’s toilet stylishly and functionally. Fish and Birds Make sure you have a temperature-regulated area of your home away from windows for the size fish tank you’re considering or for a bird cage. These animals are sensitive to temperature changes brought about by strong sunlight or cold winter window glass. Small Mammals Easy to care for, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits and rats (yes, rats!) make excellent pets. They take up very little room, and since they spend most of their time in cages, they have few opportunities to take over your home. If you like these little critters, they’re a great choice. For All Free-Range Pets: Consider indoor/outdoor carpeting for your entire home. Newer fibers have made these options much softer and more comfortable to walk on in your bare feet, and they’re much easier to clean. Stick to darker colors with small patterns that help hide pet hair. Speaking of pet hair…try to match your pet to the colors of your home. If your décor is deep, rich, dark colors, a black or dark brown pet is best. The opposite is also true – light colored rugs and furniture go best with white or tan pets. If you have a pet with a multi-color coat, go with bold patterns and get a great pet-friendly vacuum!  
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