A New Pet for the Holidays ~ Dr. Kleisch

Happy Holidays! It is that time of year, and to me December is one of the greatest times of year. Additionally, there is no better time of year to have a new companion; but what is the best pet for you or your family? Then, once you get a new companion, what do you do next? We are seeing more and more companionship coming in ways of pets in 2020, and as an industry tend to see a wave of new pets in December/January. While there is no scientific research or algorithm to follow for deciding which pet is best for your household, taking a step back and looking at lifestyle and what you want to give to the companionship can create a wonderful life-long partnership.

The initial step is identifying which pet is best for you.  Should you get a dog or a cat, should you get a small mammal (pocket pets), reptile or a bird? If a dog or cat is for you, then should you get a puppy or kitten, adopt a young animal or rescue an older animal. If a puppy or kitten –  will you use a breeder or rescue? As you can see there are a lot of decisions out of the gate! Then, if you use a breeder, which breeder should you use? As I recommend in the clinic – please complete enough research on the breeder to keep you comfortable with your decision. While you may have a breeder based on referral, it is recommended to contact several breeders to get a feel of the differences in the way they breed and care for pets. Whether getting a puppy or kitten from a breeder or adopting, puppies and kittens are busy little beings. They are funny and cute and full of promise, however, like all babies, need care and attention to fulfill their promise. While young pets do require attention, in return you get all of that promise they have to offer. Adolescent pets (8-18 months) are more mature but can also carry their own challenges. Adolescent age pets can be mature or can be full of energy, spirit, and spunk. And, then the older mature adopted pets. We all love these older guys. However, we don’t always know the past history, exposure, training, or concurrent medical ailments.

For my family, it was a choice between a puppy or kitten. Our first dog was a puppy rescue and then our second dog was a puppy from a breeder.  When we decided to expand our family from one dog to two dogs, Margaret Ann (my wife) and I knew we wanted to get a younger dog for socialization reasons – wanting to expose the dog to all aspects of life at a young age since our family was planning to have children.  Additionally, we elected for a large breed active dog – a Labrador retriever. Already having a Golden Retriever, Cooper, and we knew we wanted another large breed and having one from a rescue we wanted one from a breeder. After researching breeders we brought home our second pet, Camden, December, 2012.So, why did we choose a Labrador? And why did we choose a dog over a cat? Margaret Ann and I decided on a Labrador based on care requirements, energy level, housing arrangements, personality and temperament.  Since that December, our family has grown perfectly. While there are many different ways to decide on what would be your best fit for a new pet, hopefully you can take a moment and decide what would make a good fit for both you and your pet. After all, it is a companionship.

Cat versus dog, both are wonderful but also are different. I remember first year veterinary school our anatomy teach saying, “A cat is not a small dog”.  By now, you know for my family’s lifestyle we elected for a dog as the new companion. Fortunately, we knew the responsibility differences of a dog versus a cat, and we elected for a dog because at some point we would want to teach our children the responsibilities of pet ownership. Additionally, one day our children would want a “new pet” and we would likely look to get a cat at that time. In general, cats, unlike dogs, tend to be independent. Independence does not mean less companionship, but different. In general, cats are independent, clean, and are easily trained for a litterbox use.

If you are thinking a dog, I would advise you to look into factors of your living scenario, future family growth, and lifestyle you are interested having with your companion.


You’ll want a dog that’s a great fit for the size of your house, yard and your family. Dogs’ sizes are as varied as their human counterparts – you can find everything from toy and miniature breeds all the way up to giant breeds. Smaller breeds are great for lap companions, riding in the front seat of the car and may prefer shorter walks. Then, the medium-to-large sized breeds will love the chance to go for long walks or spend hours playing in the backyard, but also require a larger space at home and more space when traveling.

Energy Level

Dogs’ energy levels are also as varied as that of us humans. Some are very physically active and need lots of mental and physical stimulation to keep their minds and bodies occupied (and out of trouble!). Others are content to nap at your feet on a lazy Sunday. Decide whether you are seeking a hiking pal or a more soft and snuggly pup.

Personality and Temperament

When choosing a pooch who’s going to be thrust into all sorts of situations and spending lots of time with every member of the family, it’s critical to find a match for your brood’s personality and temperament. Dogs can be easy going and laid back, playful and mischievous, full of the boundless energy of a new puppy, or anywhere in between. What type of temperament will complement your family’s?

We selected a medium to large size dog that we trust in all situations with children and company, and does a great job going on family walks but does require space and attention. We felt this was a great fit for us, and we are happy to have found a companion that matches our lifestyle.

The decisions don’t stop at what companion or breed you choose. There are many decisions to still be had when you have a puppy or kitten to shape to reflect your household. We approach medicine at Shiloh in a holistic fashion, and we start with you and your new companion. We will work with you on choosing the appropriate vaccines, preventatives, and training. December is one of the greatest times of year, and a wonderful time to get a companion. From all of us, Happy Holidays.