For the newly single, being alone at home can be devastating. No matter how enjoyable it is going out with friends, when you arrive back at your home, you feel the full brunt of being alone.
A pet, joyous to see you, can make all the difference in how you feel about being “home alone.” Think about your needs and the needs of various animals then select the one that best fits your lifestyle.
Dogs are fine companions. They’re social creatures, very happy when they’re with their favorite person. They LIKE and NEED to be around people. They make good watchdogs, regardless of their size.
Dogs require interaction with their human companions. That’s what makes them so good with singles. That also makes them a bad choice for singles on the go all the time. You’ll need to spend “quality time” with Phideaux every day for walks (good way to meet other singles), grooming, and play.
Dogs can be jealous of intruders into “their” home. You might find a date being shredded for no apparent reason other than a harmless hug appeared to Fido as an attack on you.
Don’t plan on leaving a dog home alone for a lengthy period of time. Dogs don’t understand being alone. Some dogs will become very destructive, even though they don’t really mean to be. If you have to leave your pet alone, have a friend stop by every day to check on him.
Not everyone likes dogs. If you have one, try to pick dates who are receptive to animals.
Cats are the opposite of dogs. Independent and self-assured, most cats seem not to notice if you live in the same house with them. This is just an act. They do notice but they’ve got the independence routine to perfection. It’s an act singles could take lessons from. Think about it — the more a cat draws away in seeming non-concern, the more you want to get close.
Cats are probably the perfect singles pet. Cats understand being alone. They can be very happy without you around as long as you keep the food dish full and the water topped off. One cat might get lonely. So get another one and they’ll keep each other company and provide you with warm fuzzy companionship whenever you’re at home. If they want to.
Some people absolutely don’t like cats. If you like cats and the person you just met HATES CATS, dump him or her. (Perhaps that’s a bit harsh. You find a way to introduce them to your cat-hating cousin.)
Fish are a hobby. It isn’t practical to try to hold them or cuddle them although some larger fish such as Oscars can develop “cute” personalities and it’s easy to think of them as more than cold-blooded creatures. If you decide to take up fish as a hobby, expect to spend a good bit of time cleaning tanks and performing other chores. The larger the aquarium, the more time and expense you’ll have. Fish hobbiests think it’s worth it.
One friend started with a Siamese fighting fish in a glass jar then progressed to a 20-gallon freshwater aquarium which housed an assortment of large fish. The aquarium was converted to saltwater to house a pair of giant seahorses. Two smaller aquariums – one freshwater and one saltwater – were set up as holding tanks for the live food the seahorses required. Ultimately the aquariums were turned into terrariums.
Birds can be quite huggable, just ask the person who owns a personality-plus parrot. Birds are intelligent, messy if left unattended, and, depending upon the breed, loud of voice. If you’re expecting to travel or spend very much time away from home, think twice about having a large bird as a pet – they don’t like being left alone! Talk to bird owners before you make this kind of time and money investment. (A good way to meet singles!)
Rabbits are sweet, cute, furry. Rabbits have been the preferred pet of apartment dwellers because they don’t mind being caged. They will be thrilled to see you, particularly if you’re bringing carrots or other fresh vegetables. They will gnaw on your favorite wooden things (your antique chair), and poop in places you wish they wouldn’t. It’s best to keep them caged. Rabbits require very little from their owners other than a clean cage, fresh food and water and periodic trips to the vet. Who couldn’t love a bunny?
Any creature can be a pet, just ask the person who owns a tarantula or a hermit crab. Snakes, lizards, and other reptiles are also popular.
If you just don’t know what type of pet you’d like, make it a topic of conversation when you meet new people (it can be a good opening when you meet someone you’d like to know better.) Visit area pet stores. Visit the local humane society. Read the “free to good home” ads in the newspaper. This also presents the opportunity to visit pet shows and talk to owners.
Acquiring a pet is not something to rush into. Take your time. You will be making emotional, time, and financial commitments. Be sure you’re ready for the responsibility.
The right pet will make all the difference in being home “alone.”
© Pat Gaudette