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Pet parents give their best advice on living with canines, cockatoos and critters of all kinds

The French poet and novelist Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” For these four families, a different kind of love has taken over their household—one that involves a member quite unlike the others. Here, pets are more than just a cute playthings but are very much a part of the family, each with its own unique personality, needs and capabilities.

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Joanna Preysler-Francisco

Joanna Preysler-Francisco, an entrepreneur, talks about her three French bulldogs. “Our pets are members of the family, no question about it. We call them ‘the kids’. They are innocent babies, dependent on us for their safety, food, comfort, and love.” The three—Biggie Smalls, Bubba Love and Bandida—all give Preysler-Francisco’s family a unique kind of unconditional love.

 

Susana “Chu Chu” Madrigal

Much is the same for Susana “Chu Chu” Madrigal, who is the proud owner of five dogs (the standard poodle Sly, the German Shepherd Maya, the two toy poodles Hugo and Stella and the labradoodle Alfie), two tortoises, a cockatoo named Snowbell, and a school of koi fish. “Our pets are a significant part of our household and are most definitely family. There is a kind of unconditional love pets are able to give that is indescribable, but that other pet owners will be able to attest and relate to.” 

Yet, being a pet parent isn’t all glamorous or fun work. It comes with its fair share of difficulties too. As Preysler-Fransico puts it, “Living imperfectly is par for the course, with children and with pets! We have accidents and just roll with the punches.”

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Rosanna Ocampo

New fur mum Rosanna Ocampo admits that welcoming a new member of the family can be intimidating. Her four-month-old golden doodle, Theodore, is a very active pup; in turn, the household has had to take precautions to ensure his safety. “There’s always someone watching Theodore. We make sure there are no small toys lying around that he can chew on. The sliding door to the stairs remains closed and no toxic items he can eat are left lying around as well.”

Kim Atienza

There are plenty of considerations pet parents must ponder upon. Television host and weather anchor, Kim Atienza, is no stranger to this. The veteran animal lover obviously enjoys—and loves—his family’s assorted assemblage. “I have so many pets that I don’t remember their names,” he jokes. “So far, we have about 20 plus dogs. I also breed tortoises. I breed snakes as well. I have birds [and] I have three macaws.”

With years of experience, Atienza reminds us: “With pet care comes knowledge and responsibility. Without responsibility and without knowledge, don’t get a pet, just get a stuffed toy.”

For new pet parents, it’s advisable to get a trainer. “Since I am I first-time pet owner I hired a trainer to help me curb the dog’s biting habits and I highly recommend this,” Ocampo shares. Though it’s an added responsibility, she has no regrets. “My kids are over the moon [having Theo]. [He] brings such immense joy to the house and kids are with him 24/7.”

Another thing to consider is how lifestyle can change with a new pet at home. As an avid collector of mid-century modern furniture, Atienza says that his family is often on “high alert” when the dogs are still puppies. “When they get to a certain age, when [they’re older than a] year, then they stop biting. Our dogs are quite well-trained.”

Aside from discipline, it’s also important to consider the space and time that you can offer your potential pets. “[Pets too] are living creatures and must be given proper attention, care and love,” says Madrigal. “We are fortunate enough to live in a house that is spacious [and] can provide a good habitat to each of the animals with their specific requirements.”

Research is also non-negotiable when deciding on what kind of pet to get. Consider what the animal will need depending on their size, body, and species. Preysler- Fransico suggests getting a smaller dog or cat if the space at home is not as accommodating. “I feel so bad when I see big dogs in a small place, or a dog used to ‘winter’ temperatures in a hot house.”

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For those who may not be able to commit to more high-maintenance pets, Atienza suggests going exotic. “Get a reptile,” he suggests. Though they aren’t as mainstream as cats or dogs, reptiles can be an alluring choice for those looking for more low-maintenance companions. “They don’t require much when it comes to attention. You just need to feed them once every two weeks and they’re fine already.” Surprisingly, he also says that reptiles are among the more affordable choices when it comes to pets; this is because their diet is less stringent than a dog’s or a cat’s. “Some pets are very expensive [to own and maintain],” he points out. “Birds are very expensive to buy and maintain, but dogs are the most expensive, in my opinion, because of the dog food.”

At the end of the day, a pet can be a lot of hardwork; but though they are an added responsibility, every dedicated pet parent will attest to one thing: their love is worth all the trouble.

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