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Questions To Ask before Purchasing Living Things

Over the course of a lifetime, you will have many occasions to purchase living things. If you own a home, there will be landscaping that might require plants. Wherever you live, you might want houseplants. Perhaps you want a pet, whether that means a dog or a canary or a horse. If you know your way around a nursery or you have had a lot of experience with animals, it may be easy for you to make your purchasing decisions because you will know what to expect. If you are entering the market for living things, both plants and pets, you need to be your own investigative journalist and ask some important questions before you buy.

How Big Will It Get? Both plants and animals grow. If you want a small shrub and you purchase a plant that will grown into a large shrub, you may find yourself replacing it after a year or two. If you want a dog that you can carry easily and you purchase a dog that will weigh seventy pounds, you will find yourself quickly caring for something for which you did not necessarily want or have the energy to provide care.

The size of a plant or an animal will also likely be a measure of the cost to care for it. If you purchase a big dog, expect to pay a lot more for food than you would pay if you bought a Yorkie. If you plant a tree that will grow to be over sixty feet tall, trimming it will cost you a lot more when it outgrows your ladders.

What Will It Cost To Trim It? If you purchase a long haired pet, the cost of a trim will be much more than a short haired pet. If you are not able to do all of the grooming yourself, you will find that larger dogs also cost more to be washed and otherwise groomed.
The same holds true for trees. If you plant a tree that you know will require trimming, as is the case with the palm trees that are all over the state of Florida, the taller tree the tree gets, the more it will cost to trim it. For example, I bought a house with three palm trees in the front yard. At the time, the tallest tree was about fifteen feet tall. Now the tallest tree is about thirty-five feet tall and all three require professional trimming. It is not an inexpensive proposition.

What Will It Cost To Feed It? Size matters. Just as with grooming, big dogs cost much more to feed than small dogs. In the case of plants, size is not as important as species. Learn about the fertilizers that you will need before you make the purchase.
Who Wants it? Why are you buying a pet? Do the adults in the household want a pet? If you answer “No” to that question, you need to make sure that the children in the household really want a pet and are ready to care for it. Don’t start with a dog or other higher mammal. Start with a goldfish and let your kids work their way up to the more time consuming and costly pets.

In the case of plants, determine the time and effort that it will take to care for the plant before buying it and then determine who will be responsible for it. A neglected plant will become an eyesore, a waste of money, or both.

How Practical Is It? If you purchase a pet even though you know that you will be travelling a lot, you are purchasing the cost of having it kenneled while you are away unless you have a caregiver who will watch. Any living thing that is not given care will sooner or later die. That is both cruel and a waste of money. If you cannot commit to being around to care for your pet or your plants, don’t buy them.

How Long Will It Live? The purchase of goldfish is a two year commitment. The purchase of a parrot might be a seventy year commitment. There is a big difference in cost between two years of goldfish food and a lifetime of parrot food.

After you have assessed all of the factors that go into buying a living thing, and you may very well have several other questions to ask before you do, you then need to determine the cost of care over the lifetime. Then you can determine whether you are ready for the cost and expense?

What do you consider before you purchase a plant or an animal? What could we add to the list I have offered?

6 thoughts on “Questions To Ask before Purchasing Living Things

  1. As someone who has an enormous long haired dog (Bernese Mountain Dog), I can attest to the fact that they cost more. He destroyed our back storm door, broke my desk and thanks to his constant shedding I’m on my second Roomba …

    Another issue to check out is health issues with certain breeds. Some breeds are more prone to certain diseases, joint problems, etc. Although some of these can be prevented with good exercise and healthy diets. And plan for the unexpected. As a puppy, my Brodie had lyme disease and other issues. Just the other day he ate a frog … but that seems to have digested fine.

    I would also recommend you have a plan for how you will handle issues like will you be willing to pay $5,000 for cancer treatments.

  2. I have always wanted a lizard, until I found out they require you to buy clean vitamin injected crickets to eat. I just don’t like the idea of being stuck constantly buying a living thing to feed a bigger living thing. I know its stupid, because, hey – OMNIVORE here, but its a point.

  3. You may want to re-check your stats on the goldfish. My son won our goldfish “spot” at the state fair. She lived 7 years. The pet books state that goldfish can live up to 18 years or more.

  4. Good advice, David. SO many people do not stop and consider the future consequences of their decisions, thus leading them into major problems all because they did not stop and think it out properly.
    I am sure that this will be of help to many that read it.

  5. I bought 2 guppies about 7 years ago…. they reproduced….in biblical proportions…we had to upgrade the bowl to a tank, then luckily someone gave me a WAY bigger tank (for free, filter included, yay!)… I now care for a whole school of fish (at last count, we had 62…that was over a year ago…I’ve since given up counting them!)…I have had to buy new filters 2x….not to mention I have had to buy a couple other fish to introduce some genetic variety!

  6. Yes, I totally agree on all counts particulary you should consider the vet bills. I now have my vet on speed dial and I have learned more about what a dog can digest and what they can’t then I ever really want to know.

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