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Long Distance Love: Long distance pets

Alison McGee | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 13th, 2012

Having a pet with your long distance love can be all at once a great source of comfort and a great source of stress. Believe me, I speak from experience.

As in any relationship, getting a pet together is a big step; it is saying something about the level of commitment you have for one another and for the relationship. On top of that, it's committing yourself to take care of a living thing. Having a pet with your partner while you are living separately carries its own set of challenges above and beyond the normal call of duty that most pet owners face, so here are some tips to help you navigate this cute, furry and tricky situation:

- Don't get a pet if you can't take care of it. This may seem like simple advice, but it can be easy to forget how much work a pet can be when you're lost in the cuteness of them. For example, if you're a hardcore student who spends long hours every day and parts of your weekend at school, a dog probably isn't the best choice. Figure out how much time you have to commit to a pet and decide which, if any, is the right type for you.

- Before adopting a pet, figure out whom it will live with. When bringing a new pet home — especially a young pet like a puppy or a kitten — you must give them a stable environment. That means that you can't keep the dog for two weeks then pass it off to your partner for the next two weeks. Make sure you figure this out beforehand, though, as it can be overwhelming to bring a new pet home and you'll want to have all the logistics planned out before you're chasing a new puppy around your living room.

- Understand that whether the pet lives with you or your partner, you will be missing out on things. If your significant other ends up taking the pet to live with them you will, of course, be missing time with the animal, but you may also be missing bonding time. If you have a small puppy and it grows up rarely seeing you, it may take longer to bond with you when it's fully grown. Alternatively, if your new addition lives with you, you will be the sole caregiver. That means if you have a puppy, even if you're tired or not feeling well, it's up to you to take it for a walk. As long as you understand the compromises before bringing the animal home, there's no reason you can't thrive in either of these situations.

Hopefully these tips can help prepare you to have to best time with your new pet. I know I'm sure loving having a puppy all to myself with my husband living so far away right now!
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