Practical - Index > To Do - Index > Education > Teaching Children

COMPANION ANIMALS
 
Many people have a pet of some sort, but not everyone knows
how to care for them properly.
 
First of all we need to understand that animals do not belong to us.  It is very important that we look after them and ensure that their needs are met, but we must remember that we do not own them.  We can be their friends, their guardians or their companions, but we should never call ourselves their owners.  Similarly, we should not call the animals who share our lives with us “our pets” because that sounds as if we are making them belong to us. Instead of calling them pets we should call them companion animals. 
 
 
Cats and Dogs. 
Cats and dogs are definitely the most popular companion animals in Australia. 

If you are thinking of sharing your home with a dog or cat NEVER purchase one from a pet shop.  There are thousands of unwanted animals that end up in shelters all over the country because there are not enough homes for them.  Many of them have been neglected and treated cruelly and are waiting for a caring family to adopt them.  If you buy one from a pet shop you will only be encouraging people to keep breeding more animals for money. 
When you  have adopted your companion, he or she should be desexed.  This is an operation that the vet performs to prevent cats and dogs from having puppies and kittens.  Although puppies and kittens are cute and fluffy, they grow up to be adults and often end up unwanted in shelters. 

In some states of Australia, cats and dogs must be registered with the council.  This means that the council has a record of him or her and can help you find them if they become lost. 

  
Birds. 
It’s not really a good idea to keep birds in small cages as they have a natural urge to fly around and socialise with other birds.  If you already have a caged bird  don’t set it free outside as it will no longer be able to fend for itself in the wild. You can make his or her life happier by putting interesting objects in the cage such as twigs or small toys. 

If you like birds, it would be kinder to hang seed holders in your garden, to encourage wild birds, but not in a place where cats can pounce on them. 

  
Fish. 
Fish have similar problems to birds.  Being confined to a small tank or bowl can be very boring so try to make things more interesting for them by providing them with places to hide and some water plants to munch on.  They will need to be fed regularly but only very tiny amounts.  Many people kill their fish by feeding them too much!   
10 rules for looking after your companions. 
 
As long as you choose carefully, care for them properly and remember that they are your companions and not your property, you can have some wonderful friends to share your life with. 
1. Make sure your friend is fed  a proper diet regularly.  

2. Always make sure that they have clean drinking water available at all times. 

3. Provide a cosy dry sleeping area. 

4. Exercise dogs regularly and  provide regular family contact. 

5. Look after their health by fleaing and worming them regularly. 

6. Make sure they are registered (if this is required in the state in which you live) and have an identification tag in case they get lost. 

7. Make sure that dogs cannot escape onto the road and cats are  kept indoors at night. 

8. Train dogs so that they do not attack or annoy people. 

9. Desex all companion animals 

10. Make sure that someone reliable can care for your friend while you are away on holidays. 

 
Remember that caring for any animal is a big responsibility and you should only do so if you have a suitable place for them to stay and are able to spend enough time with them.