Step one: See cute animal. Step two: Bring home cute animal.  Step three: Suddenly realize that you’re responsible for the life of a whole other living creature, and PANIC!

Goldie, adopted 2017, demonstrating her best “oh, no!” face

Sound familiar? Even if you’re sure that you’re ready to bring home a new pet, it’s very common to have a moment (or more) of panic or self-doubt in the first week or two. After all, it’s a big decision! Here’s what we at the SPCA would like for you to know, if you’re currently feeling this type of panic:

Firstly, we’ve all been there! Yes, the staff and volunteers at the SPCA can all be classified as “crazy animal people,” but even we recognize that bringing home a new animal, whether cat, dog, or other, is a big deal. How will they integrate with our family? Will they settle into the routine and be comfortable? Can we really handle the specific needs (financial or otherwise) of this animal? It’s ok to experience some self-questioning about these things. We would even argue that the fact that you’re having this concern means that you care about what’s best for the animal you’re adding to your family.

Sometimes this panic is our mind’s way of letting us know that something isn’t working right. Maybe you’re realizing that this dog needs far more exercise than you can provide, or that your current cat really didn’t want a feline companion. We want to make sure you know that you are not on your own if you’re concerned. This is one reason all of our dogs go home on a foster-to-adopt basis, and even cats in some circumstances. The purpose of that foster period (typically 2 weeks) is to give you time to make a decision about whether this pet is right for your home.

Animals often show different behavior in a home than they do at the shelter. Not only that, for the first week (and often more!), they are so busy trying to adjust to a new environment that they still may not show their true personality! Dogs may still be working on getting their housetraining back on track, and cats may still spend a lot of time under the couch. What we hope that you’ll consider in these first two weeks is that the animal you’re welcoming into your home is trying as hard as they can to adjust – just like you are. Typically these first two weeks are the hardest out of the entire rest of your new pet’s lifetime.

We have lots of tips right here on the 4-Paw Post to help you and your household adjust during these first two weeks – and beyond. Keep in mind that we post three times a week, and you can use the search function at the bottom of the page to find articles relevant to you.

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember most of all: don’t panic! We’ve all been there when we bring home a new animal. Whether you’re looking for ideas to help your new pet settle in, a little bit of reassurance, or a second opinion about whether things are working out as they should, we’re here for you. You can call us, send a Facebook message, or email us.