I wrote this piece, having the military family and the lifestyle that goes along with it, in mind. Here it goes; I would like to say a couple lines about pet adoptions.
This is not meant as criticism of people but more as a reminder what to look for. I know from experience there is nothing greater than having a fury companion, or to see your children growing up with one. Pets bring so much to a family and can teach important things like responsibility and compassion.
BUT before you decide to add a furry companion to your family you should really sit down and list the pros and cons of taking that next step. If you are a fan of this page, you are very likely a military member stationed in Germany, so the first question on your check list has to be: will I have the money to ship my pet, or board it in case of family emergencies?
The ASPCA estimates first year costs for a dog or cat will total over 1000$, while costs for a guinea pig could reach 700$. Expenses for Fish or birds could top 200$.
You should count on putting aside, to be save, about 2k in transport costs (you may have to board the pet somewhere, if they aren’t allowed to fly with you because of the heat or something).
Next point, you are in Europe!!! The best and probably only time you get to explore the old world!!! Are you willing to board your pet when you take trips? Be aware that some pets like reptiles, fish or birds can’t be transported back to the states, and you will have to find them a new home before going back! Leaving an animal behind is a crime in Germany and if you are caught, they will fine you. Then the family question, do you have small kids or plan on having kids soon? Please remember if your already stressed and busy with kids, a pet will only add to that. Dogs will need walks, and it’s against housing regs and German law to just lock them on the yard or balcony. A cat, if outdoors needs to be current on all her shots and receive frequent worm treatments and may need vet visits for getting into cat fight; indoor cats need their litter boxes (1 per cat at least) in a save place, cleaned.
I know a lot of parents think it’s special for a baby to grow up with a puppy, but in all reality, that kiddo won’t remember a thing and unless you are really committed and up for challenge, don’t like a good night sleep or have a second adult around at all times to help, save yourself the trouble. Of course, it’s doable… everything really is, but more often than not – the parents get too stressed with the situation and the pet gets the shorter end of the stick.
Also, Toddlers do NOT understand compassion or that loving can kill a pet! So, if you are not sure how your toddler will be around pets, visit someone who has pets and see how they act, do that a couple times and you can get a pretty good idea.
Once you cleared all those points then you can decide on a pet: Count about 150 euros or dollars a year just in vet costs for vaccines and checkups, older animals may be more costly. Pets should be chipped and registered on the German and U.S. side (Vet on base and Tasso)
What kind pet is up to you, some prefer dogs… some cats, but cats do require a lot less time and commitment then dogs. If you decide to adopt a “used” pet spend the time to get to know the pet, visit them and let them visit you. what I seen over and over that people go pick up pets after seeing a picture and then the pets are back for adoption again within weeks, since the pet did not match the family’s needs at all.
Not just that it means broken kids’ hearts, it really sucks for the pet and makes issues it may have already had worse! You should never TRY having a pet or get a pet, and see how it goes. If you decide to adopt from one of the many rescue groups, I can’t stress enough, don’t adopt an adult wild dog (most of those dogs lived in wild packs until they were captured) unless you are an experienced dog handler that has the time and money to invest into that dog.
Don’t gift pets or take pets home, in the hopes your better half will love it when they see it, they may already know the responsibility of having a pet and decided against it, because of that. If you decide on a pup, be aware they are just as demanding as a baby during the first 3 month. They need to go out about once an hour, maybe more in smaller breeds, they need lots of sleep and can’t do long walks yet. They may need to be carried up and down the stairs because of their joints the first few weeks, are you able to do that? They may need special food and booster shots.
Cats are much easier, but they too need things like cat/scratch trees. Declawing is against the law here so, do not count on it when you decide on a cat, also if you do not get them fixed there can be marking issues and believe me when I tell you there is nothing more annoying than a cat in heat. Even adding a new cat to your existing cat can cause your older cat to start marking!
Or the kitty does not like the new place, or is aggravated by outdoor cats in the neighborhood and starts messing in the house.
The last I would like to add, don’t choose a cat or dog by its looks! Even in cats, breed’s tempers vary wildly and cats like a Bengal will not lay around lazily all day, but will be racing through the house. They can turn aggressive, if their energy is not used up in play or exercise. Same with dogs…. yes, Huskies are pretty, but unless you’re training for cross country sledding or running, don’t get one. Terrier breeds, even though small (and many think perfect small apartment dogs) used to be bread for hunting and chasing, they are HIGH energy breeds that are very intelligent and love challenges.
I like to remind folks that owning a dog while growing up is quite different then owning one yourself.
Be sure to do your research, visit the breeders ask ALL the questions, reputable breeders will be happy to answer. And if you’re not sure…. wait! Please let’s try to match your family with that perfect pet, even if it means to wait!
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