Families and pets are made for one another, but which animal would be best suited to put the heart in your home? In this day and age you're pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a pet for your family, but it can be a difficult decision and you should always ensure you make the right choice.
From the fierce loyalty, loving companionship and playful nature of dogs, to the otherworldly elegance and mysterious ways of our feline friends, the myriad types and breeds of pets offer a wide range of unique and captivating traits that will enhance the life of any family. Yet while cats and dogs steadfastly remain the most popular pets, many 21st century households are home to an exotic and diverse range of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and in some cases, insects.
If you're thinking of making a new addition to your family, here's a list of some of the best pets, for want of a better term, money can buy. Yet always remember, whatever their size and whatever their species, pets all share one unifying factor, and that is they need plenty of care, an abundance of attention, and lots and lots and lots of love.
The Golden Retriever
We're a barking mad lot when it comes to our canine companions, something that anyone who has ever been lucky enough to have lived with a Golden Retriever knows all too well. When you welcome this gentle and beautiful breed into your family they will repay your kindness with every ounce of their being. Loyal to the bone and extremely child friendly, these playful and bouncy characters are probably the most sociable dog breed there is, but be warned, 'golden's are very active animals and need plenty of fresh air and exercise.
The Black Labrador
Intelligent, inquisitive, hard-working, and considerate are just a few traits of the noble black lab. These hearty little fellows are extremely sensitive and masters at sensing people's moods and emotions. Their empathetic qualities make them ideal pets for family environments where their presence has a soothing and calming quality. Bred as working dogs, black labs respond well to training and regular routines.
The Tuxedo Cat
Although not officially recognised as a breed, these black and white cats, are as a rule, more prone to interact and show affection to humans than their sharper toothed and fiercer clawed ginger brethren. The Tuxedo is a lazy cat who will love to sit on your lap, sleep on your bed and rub itself lovingly against your legs when you return from a hard day's work. Like all cats, Tuxedos can never truly be domesticated and there is always something of the wild and primal in their souls, but then that's part of their attraction isn't it?
The Common Goldfish
Although they are very low maintenance and in some people's eyes, very boring, the common goldfish appeals to families who look for serenity and silence in their pets. Fascinating to observe, fish are not the sort of pet your children can interact with and are often at risk of overfeeding from well-intentioned but misguided owners. However, fish are very educational and are great pets if you haven't got much space and free time but desire to introduce your family to the responsibility and rewards of owning and caring for a pet.
Now while a lot of you may be screaming, "You must be joking!" at your computer screens, there's a lot more to rats than the common public perception of them as disease spreaders and vermin. They are in fact very intelligent, very clean, and wait for it, very loving. Rat owners love their rats because they are very responsive, social, and amusing little creatures. The are also masters when it comes to learning new tricks and love to spend hours with you on improving their rodent skills. A word of advice though, rats get very lonely very quickly and if you can you should keep them in pairs.
Although very cuddly and cute, rabbits are essentially wild animals and you will need to invest a lot of time in them to earn their trust and affection. They frighten easily, so they need plenty of reassuring handling and a safe place to hide away from the weight of the world. Rabbit shelters require plenty of cleaning and maintenance, and you should let your rabbit have the run of both your house and garden as much as possible. Once a rabbit feels a part of your family they will open up and reveal to you a glimpse of an animal which remains for the large part, a true enigma.