Choosing the Right Pet for You

By Patti Maguire Armstrong

Choosing a pet is not unlike choosing a spouse.  Actually, it’s exactly the same.  So when choosing a pet, consider evaluating it for compatibility in much the same manner.

  • Will your two personalities mesh until death do you part? Keep in mind that un-bonded pit bulls and some partners hasten this outcome.
  • Are you attracted to its looks?  Every year there is winner in the ugly dog contest with an owner that cannot stop kissing and hugging it, saying how cute it is while nauseating the rest of us. Think about what attracts you. If you wake up in the morning repelled by your pet’s appearance, it’s going to be that much harder to drag yourself out of bed to face another day of feeding and clean up.
  • Will you be picking up your companion at a shelter or paying for it?  Will either make you feel cheap? Superior? Like you own it?
  • What do you have in common with each other?  Guinea pigs like to squeal, eat and go to the bathroom all day long. Does that sound like you? Then you would not just being buying a Guinea pig but a miniature version of you.
  • Do you feel caged in by the world? Are you interested in spreading your feelings of misery to something smaller than you? If so, then maybe a bird with a very small cage would be a good option for you.
  • Do you want dominion over your pet?  If you belong to PETA, then obviously the answer is not only “ no” but the idea of keeping an animal captive in your home is so repellent to you and so you–PETA people only–are not even reading this right now so I can say anything I want.  Free hamburgers for children! Steaks for the elderly! Hot dogs made from lean hogs!
  • Do you want this relationship to be mutual? Do you expect love in return?  Animal behaviorists say that animals cannot love. Though the state of Vermont says they may wed. But don´t try to tell me Skippy the tiger can love you.  He only acts the part in order to get fed.  If you don’t believe me, see what happens when the food runs out.

Now, just because animals cannot love us, does not mean you can´t love them. And so as you embark on the most lopsided relationship of your life, keep in mind the following advice when selecting your pet.

Selecting a Pet that Will Make You Stand Out of the Crowd

Once you’ve established that you want a pet, you need to access what your pet can do for you. Having something to do besides watch TV all and cram Doritos into your 99-cent, microwave burritos, is not a reason to get a pet. These days it´s all about marketing an image. And a pet can help you create the image you want for yourself.

If you are still reading this, it´s fair to assume you are basically shallow and insecure and have deep seeded childhood resentments towards your father because he ate all of your Halloween candy.  That’s okay.  No one is asking you to deal with your issues. But we do want the world to overlook them, so choose a pet that sends the right message.

Pets and the Messages They Send Off

Birds for Men

Birds. There’s nothing that says “mysterious stranger come hither” like someone with a macaw on his shoulder. Oh yeah, you’re cool!  African Grays and Cockatiels–not so much.  If you are going for cute, however, they will work.  Falcons have the “wow!” factor.  Eagles?   No, too difficult to teach them to duck when getting into the car and not tear off your shoulder.

Birds for Women 

For women, large birds with beaks that can rip a person’s eyes (or any body part) out, do nothing to attract members of the opposite sex.   Large birds can offer you protection, though.  The fact that they can fly, claw AND rip out body parts, provides an excellent deterrent to undesirables.

All other birds are annoying and shouldn´t be bothered with.

Zoo Animals 

Now you’re talking!  Lions and tigers and bears, oh yeah! You are going to make an impression.  The downside is the special licensing, expense and increased likelihood that your pet will kill you, blah, blah, blah.  The important thing is that a zoo animal is going to tell the world who you are.  And who are you?

You decide:

  • Cougar–wild and adventurous
  • Tiger–sultry
  • Bears, oh my! 
  • Small black–rough and tumble with a touch of cute.
  • Grizzly–Look out world, I’m coming to get you.
  • Koala—I just want to love and be loved and never let go of this tree.
  • Panda–Oh, I am so in trouble if I get caught with this.
  • Deer–unique but playful
  • Llama–hiker, outdoorsy
  • Hippo–I’m an idiot

Farm animals 

No, they can’t be your pet. You are far too hungry for that. Admit it, you´re one burrito away from butchering them.


Due to the fact that people are repelled by the thought of horse meat (although has anyone ever tried horse burger?) these will not be considered farm animals.  These are pets for cowgirls and cowboys.  Not good for apartment dwellers but if you have a big enough yard, you will not only enhance your image (depending on the type of boots you buy to go with it) but you can have fun going on trail rides or, if it’s unbroken, make money with the neighbors.  Who needs a mechanical bull when there’s a bucking bronco in the neighborhood.  Yee haw!


 As you know, these are professionally stuffed animals, often from a hunting or fishing trip although and sometimes from the moose that drowned in my swimming pool.  Don´t listen to people who tell you a taxadermied animal can´t be your pet.  Of course they can. This might be your best choice given who you are (I think you know what I mean by “you” and “are.”)  Admit it, when you see taxidermy, their eyes follow you around the room.  And you just thought it was you.  No, it’s everyone.  Those animals may not be breathing, but there’s someone in there.

The very best part about these pets is that they require very little care; no vet bills, no walks, clean-up or teeth brushing and only a minimum amount of companionship–it is a “pet” after all.  With such minimal care, this will free you up to do other things such as go out on dates if you are single or spend time with the spouse and kids if not.  Really, pets can be such a nuisance, so consider taxidermy and call it good.  No, you cannot have a taxidermy pet of something you killed on your own.  Are you forgetting the eyes?  And PETA?  We do not kill our pets.


Surprised you, didn’t I?  Yes, hamsters can be an image-pet but only under one condition.  If you want your cute and cuddly hamster to enhance your image, you will need to invest in the Armadia fine line of hamster clothing. Everything from formal to leisure wear with accessories such as cute little hats, purses and cuff links, will tell the world that you have arrived. There is even a line of active wear designed with the hamster wheel in mind, and maternity wear complete with a nursery in which the mother hamster cannot fit through the opening so as to prevent her from eating her young.

Although the hamsters look fab in their brand-name duds, (especially the teddy bear hamsters) most will resist getting dressed.  It’s best to wear leather gloves for protection against their razor sharp teeth when dressing them up and do it during daytime hours when they are sure to be sleeping.

Killer dogs 

These pertain to any large, drooling breed of dog that snarls, growls and barks at anyone approaching its comfort zone–usually the radius of a football field.  The downside to these dogs is the apparel required to make the image complete.  If you, the owner, are not willing to invest in a leather jacket, heavy chains that dangle from random parts of your clothing, leather pants or Levi jeans full of holes, black boots with heels, facial hair regardless of your sex, and several body piercings, then you might as well not even bother. Imagine walking a snarling Doberman pincer or a sharp-toothed Rottweiler wearing flip flops, kahki shorts and a polo shirt.  Do you see what I mean?  It’s all or nothing.

When it comes to pets, that pretty much covers it.  There´s always a few here and there that people will try to use for their image– ie. a boa constrictor hung on the shoulders or the cute little finches nesting in a fancy hair do.  However, those are the rare flamboyant types seeking desperately to make an extreme statement.  This piece is beyond helping them because you can’t help people who don’t know they need help.  They don’t know.  Perhaps you could tell them.