Some people claim to love their pets as much as their spouses or children, and given that, I can think of no other long-term love relationship that's initiated so casually. Sure, there are those who spend months researching breeders and visiting litters, but a lot of people, once they figure out what kind of pet they want, just walk into a roomful of the critters and point at one.

Case in point: the dog I had growing up, Bonnie. She was a hyper-active wire-haired fox terrier -- very cute -- and my mom picked the breed after reading through a dog breed book and noting, strangely, that Bill Cosby had a fox terrier and really seemed to like it. And off we went to a breeder. Suddenly, my 12-year-old self was surrounded by fifteen yipping and nipping puppies, and my mother left it up to me to decide which one we'd be taking home. It took me all of thirty seconds: one came bounding up to me, intent on untying my shoelaces. I picked her up; I was hooked. As it turned out, they had already named her -- Bonnie -- which I decided was a ridiculous name for a dog, and would be changed as soon as we came up with something better. Which we never did -- so even something as personal as the name of our dog was pre-determined (and thus sort of random).
bonnie.jpgAbove: the Bonnie in question.

There are various schools of thought on the matter, especially when choosing a dog. Don't pick the shy one, some say: they won't socialize with you, and when they grow up could become aggressive. (Could this always be true? I doubt it; even puppies can be tired.) There's plenty of advice out there about what kind of pet to choose, and much depends on your living situation (cramped city apartment or open land?), your financial situation (fish aren't as cheap as they seem), and even your emotional situation (how much attention are you willing to give your pet?).

But there's precious little advice on what to do after you've made all those decisions and you're faced with the litter -- which one will become your furry life partner? There's no interspecies E-Harmony to help you. So I ask you, fair readers: how did you pick your pet?