Archive | November, 2017

Bringing Home a New Pet

The holidays are a popular time to bring home new pets. If you are considering bringing a new pet into your home this holiday season, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Always research a pet before getting it. Whether it is a certain breed of dog, a mutt from the shelter, or something different like a snake or a bird, do plenty of research before bringing the animal home. Every animal has it’s own unique set of needs that need to be met, and some of those needs might be very expensive. Make sure that you can meet those needs BEFORE bringing the animal home. Sometimes when our animals are older, or if we’ve just lost an animal, we forget what it was like to introduce an animal into our homes. It can be a long, messy process so you have to be prepared for and willing to deal with the worst aspects of pet ownership (accidents in the house, destroyed furniture, chewed shoes, loud vocalizations, behavioral issues, emergency vet trips, etc.).
  • If you have done all the research and mentally prepared yourself for all the highs and lows of bringing a new pet into your home, the next step is to prepare your house for the pet’s arrival before getting it. Get all the supplies, decide on what rules you and your family will implement, know which veterinarian you will bring your pet to, make a plan for who will stop home for potty breaks in the middle of the day, and pet proof your house.
  • Now that your house is ready, it’s time to bring the pet home. This is a very exciting time, and you and your family can’t wait to start bonding with your new pet but remember that coming to a new home can be stressful. Give them time to acclimate and don’t overwhelm them right away. If you have kids, teach them to be calm, quiet, and gentle with the new pet, and to respect their need for space.
  • If you have other pets in the home, it is best to keep them separated while your new pet adjusts. Let them explore the new environment on their own first, and then gradually introduce new and old pets once the new pet feels confident and comfortable.
    • If you are bringing a dog home to another dog, chances are you have already done dog-to-dog introductions and know the dogs get along well. However, bringing a new dog into the home is a very different experience for your current dog. It might have been all fun and games when they met before, but now this dog is on their territory, using their favorite items and getting attention from their owners. Make sure each dog has their own set of toys, bowls, and beds, and give your current dog plenty of attention while the new dog is settling in.
    • If you are bringing a cat home, keep the cat in a single room for about a week. When cats are moved to new houses their first instinct is to hide. Giving them a small, secure place helps them acclimate faster to the smells and sounds of your house, and also helps you to know where they are. If you are introducing two cats, make the introduction very slow! Introducing two cats properly can take up to a month. Putting them together right away and saying “they will work it out” will not go well and could lead to those cats always having a bad relationship. Most shelters give you plenty of instruction on how to introduce cats to other pets. Listen to their instructions because they will work!

Recognize that as your pet gets more comfortable their behavior will change, especially if you adopted them from a shelter. It can take shelter animals up to two months to feel fully comfortable in a new home. As they become more comfortable they will start to show you more and more of their personality. It may not be what you expected, but learn to love that animal for who they are and adjust accordingly. Bringing home a new pet is a very rewarding experience, especially as you begin to build a bond with them. The staff at TGDS is very knowledgeable about bringing new pets home and doing pet introductions, so please ask us any questions as you consider bringing a new pet into your home.

How to take care of your animal family members: estate planning for pets

Written by Kathryn Wakefield , mom to Bailey the Golden Doodle! (kwakefield@bulkley.com)

You love your pet and devote your time and money to caring for your pet’s happiness and well-being.  So, what do you do if you become incapacitated or die while your pet is living.  You have two choices: find a friend or family member who, on an informal basis, will agree to take care of your pet; or make a more formal plan as part of your estate planning.

An informal arrangement is just that, a handshake understanding of what is to happen in a specific set of circumstances.  The benefit of an informal arrangement is that it doesn’t cost anything to set up and you can change your mind at any time at no cost.  Unfortunately, it is not enforceable and can’t be monitored. 

If you decide to make a formal plan as part of your estate planning, one option is to say in your will who you want to have care for your pet and, if you wish, provide money or property to help with that care.  You can name one person or include a list of alternates.   

To deal with what happens if you become incapacitated and your pet needs a place to go, have a written emergency care plan that says where your pet should go immediately, and if different, where your pet should go for a longer term or even permanently.  While this written care plan cannot be part of your will and does not need to be formally drafted by an attorney, keeping a copy with your important documents is a good idea. 

In any case, you should check with those who you charge with your pet’s care before including them in your plan.

If you would like to fund the care of your pet during your incapacity or after your death, Massachusetts now allows you to create a trust for your pet (separately or in your will) as you would for a human family member.  Under this arrangement, a trustee would be responsible for investment of the trust fund and making distributions, and the person you named to care for your pet would provide care.   

The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that 6.5 million animals are left to shelters every year.  Having a plan for your pet is vital, so consider consulting your estate planning attorney about creating a properly documented arrangement.