Dear Lisa: My brother wants to give our 70-year-old father, who lives alone, a dog. Dad is very active and plays golf several times a week. However, he likes to travel during the winter months to warmer locales. I'm worried about what might happen to the dog when he travels south for several months. Is there a way to work this out? --Silver Lining Solution
Studies have shown that people who have pets live longer, happier, more productive lives. However, before you go out and grab the first "bowzer" that comes along, there are questions your family should consider, and you should bring your father into the decision making process.
How active are you?
Before you decide on what breed of dog, ask yourself what your physical capabilities are. Can you withstand the rigors of twice daily extended walks and playtime or are you more likely to take a leisurely stroll with your dog for short durations.
What are your favorite activities?
Every dog was bred to do a certain job with humans. If you are the outdoors type, a sporting or herding breed that thrives on outdoor work sounds like a good match. If you are the indoors type, a smaller, smooth-coated breed which enjoys the shelter of your home and constant companionship is the dog for you.
Where do you live?
Is your home on the farm or in a tiny city apartment? Try to match the breed's needs with your living space. A Border Collie that thrives on herding may not do well in a small city abode when he'd rather be home on the range.
How much do you travel?
And if you travel, what happens to the dog when you are away from home? Many times dogs can depend on different humans in different locations and be very happy with the transition.
Are financial resources available?
While the purchase price or adoption fee is a one-time expense, yearly maintenance with food, vets bills and toys can add up to several hundred dollars a year. Know that you have the ability to financially care for your pet before you get a dog.
If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.