I wish I could have titled this "solved" but that would be a tad arrogant and few things in life are 100%. Shipping and handling yes but after that there is a slippery slope. Some things in life are learned by reading and watching, others by experience and still others are just stumbled upon. The following is a 20 plus years combo. First, do your homework about getting a dog, especially a puppy and learn about the specific characteristics of a breed. Learning by trial and error well we have all done that. Second find a trainer. Do your research but make sure you like them on a personal level so that you will trust their every word, Because thirdly you need to learn how to think like a dog and most dog owners do not know how to do that, they only think they do but they are thinking like a human. Your trainer they knows how to think like a dog. The most complex problems like you see on National Geographic with Cesar Millan start with the basics. Sit, stay, yes, no. Read that again. Notice those are all simple one syllabal one word commands. That is all they understand in the beginning. That and tone of voice. A firm NO works. A conversational explanation is confusing at best. Next comes the big debate. Veterinarians, in general say "No being around other animals until they have had ALL of their puppy vaccinations." A trainer will tell you "If you follow this advice you will miss the most crucial socialization era" Solution: split the difference. Get the first vaccination between 6-8 weeks of age and start introducing your new buddy to the world. Go for car rides, meet people, meet other puppies that know not to hang out with the rough crowd. Do not go to the dog park, beach or other areas where large numbers of dogs visit and expose your pet to life threatening viruses. The big concern is usually Distemper and Parvo virus. Unfortunate diseases associated with crowded, unsanitary conditions and unvaccinated dogs that wind up in shelters. If you work from home or can take your dog to work every day great, for the rest of us find day care. This is not necessarily forever but until they mature. A dog especialy a puppy or adolescent sitting at home for 8-12 hours aday alone is a recipe for disaster. Remember think like a dog. Imagine sitting in your home EVERY day ALL day. I would chew up the rug or door too! I have seen a variety of professional veterinary behavioralist diagnosis resolved with mental stimulation. This is not several long walks or several hours at the park but a good 8-12 hours at a well maintained facility that reinforces appropriated behavior aka doggy da. They will sleep good that night and be relaxed most of the next day. This regimen 2-3 times per week with walks, exercise etc. and separation anxiety, boredom, aggression and destructive behavior can be dramatically reduced. If you do have a major problem again find a trainer and watch a few episodes of the Dog Whisperer. You may learn a few tricks and be thankful that episode is someone elses problem. Also, keep in mind like the show some behavioral problems take awhile to resolve, so be patient. Few things in life will bring you companionship and unconditonal love like a dog. Given the proper attention, events that can test or fracture that love can be avoided with a little education and effort.
Is it the economy? Somewhere along the way routine visits for cats has dropped dramatically across the entire veterinary industry. A number of veterinary companies took notice and launched campaigns but I do not feel they have had a substantial impact. Although I applaud the efforts of Boehringer Ingelheim and Veterinary Pet Insurance for their efforts. I noticed this several years ago when ordering vaccines. I used to be very proud that I saw, treated and vaccinated as many if not more cats then dogs. I certainly see more cats then my business partner (not sure if that is good or bad?) Yes, we do not vaccinate as often or with as many vaccines as we used to but it is the preventative annual or semi-annual visits that decreased. I still have many clients that do come in regularly but a large number only come in when they have a medical issue. Although difficult medical cases are what I live for, some of these may have been prevented with early intervention. Think about it, if a woman waits for her breasts to be painful before she goes in for a mammogram and there is cancer the odds are not in her favor. As aweful as this sound if you do have breast cancer you want to find out on a routine exam be scheduled for a procedure and be done with chemo and or radiation before you get a chance to think about it too much. You want to be a survivor like my mom, twice. Routine visits are the key. Routine dentals, routine weights, routine labs, routine question and answers with your veterinarian, routine palpation of the belly, routine listening to the heart and lungs. If a cat has a murmur they have a problem, you do not want to wait until they are gasping for air. If they have kidney disease you want to know early, just by changing their food you can possibly triple the time they survive. Now that is a substantial difference. Our domestic cats are small versions of the lions and tigers out there. They do not shows signs of illness until their illness is substatial. These are not meant to be scare tactics just tips to extend your pets life. So, if you have a cat, lets make sure your cat is a healthy as they look! Thank you.