It can be so tempting to want to get a cuddly companion when you see adorable puppies and kittens in a movie, but keeping a pet is not as simple as it looks on the big screen. One film to show a more realistic side of pet ownership is Marley & Me. Based on the New York Times bestseller, the film stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as a newlywed couple, Jenny and John, who adopt an adorable yellow Labrador puppy. Unlike Lassie, however, Marley appears to be the world's most disobedient dog, refusing to be trained and causing the couple a lot of trouble. However, as Jenny and John come to terms with his behaviourial problems, they get to know and understand each other better, and become closer than ever. Dogs are certainly one of the best companions for people and are capable of bonding human friends and families together. But it's easy for new pet owners to forget how much preparation is needed before inviting a pooch into your home. Like Jenny and John, Crystal Yuen Suk-nga and her husband wanted a furry friend for their nine-year-old son, Matthew, when they decided not to have any more children. But choosing a suitable companion wasn't as easy as they thought. 'We live in a rather small apartment,' Ms Yuen says. 'We tried to find a breed that we can really take good care of. We initially wanted to adopt one, but it's just too cruel to keep such a big dog in our 600 square foot flat, so we decided to get a toy poodle puppy.' 'We went to a lot of pet shops and found many salespeople simply mislead shoppers just to make a sale. For example, some told us you don't need to walk such small dogs [toy poodles], and you can just keep them in a cage.' After some careful research, they eventually found Max at a local breeder who the family found more humane as they keep the puppies' tails uncut. While Max has brought mess and disorder to their lives, biting their clothes and going to the toilet wherever he pleases, Ms Yuen says his presence has made her family more understanding, responsible and tolerant. 'Once Max urinated on my son, but instead of getting mad and lashing out physically, Matthew firmly told Max off, then calmly took a shower,' she says. Young children often look forward to the prospect of their pet having babies - Matthew was excited that one day Max might be a dad. But Ms Yuen took the responsible step of neutering Max, and explained to her son why it was an important decision. 'Matthew asked me why can't we let Max have babies, so my husband and I explained that Max will be healthier and friendlier if we neuter him,' she says. 'We let him know that we can't just let Max breed and not take care of the puppies - Max isn't just a pet, he's a member of the family.' Before you get a dog, make sure you do your homework. According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong) and Hong Kong Dog Rescue, most new pet owners aren't aware how big dogs can grow. The organisations remind potential owners of the many responsibilities not shown by Hollywood, and the need to think carefully before you invite a four-legged friend into your life.