I love dogs. I’ve had at least one my entire adult life. They are an amazing source of unconditional love and companionship and entertainment. They supply much needed body heat on cold winter mornings. And they are great, discreet listeners.
The two dogs I have now, Blue and Devo, have seen me through a lot of changes. My return to college. My drive all the way across the country. And when my boyfriend died, their soft fur often dried my tears. They are my best friends.
Having said that, there are certain responsibilities that you take on when getting a dog that many people don’t even consider. But you owe it to a dog to think about these things before you bring it home. Its very life will be in your hands. That’s a big deal.
First of all, if you are someone who likes to go out for coffee with friends after work, you can forget about that. If you own a dog, you’ll have to go straight home and let him out to pee. In fact, your whole world will revolve around your dog’s pee schedule. And the smaller the dog, the smaller his or her bladder will be. So forget about sleeping in on a Sunday morning. If you don’t have a safely fenced yard, you will be walking this dog, rain or shine, cold weather or warm, several times a day, for the rest of its life. If you don’t see this as a pleasure, you may not be a dog person.
There are also the expenses to consider. Dog food isn’t cheap. (And don’t you DARE go for that Walmart Rob Roy stuff. It has no nutritional value, and it is the doggy equivalent of torture by food.) Vet bills aren’t cheap either, and you’ll have those at least once a year when you get their annual shots. And if they wind up with a chronic, not life threatening, ailment, that can cost a fortune, too. Then there are city licenses, pet rental deposits, the occasional toy or treat, and if you want to travel without your dog, kennel expenses or dog sitters can cost nearly as much as your hotel bill.
And expect to have increased housework. More sweeping, mopping, and carpet shampooing. And a dog needs a bath now and then, and its nails will need clipping. And I guarantee you that at least once in your dog’s life, you’re going to come home to find garbage strewn all over the house. It seems to be some sort of rite of passage. And if you think they’re going to keep their muddy paws off your furniture, think again. In fact, you can forget about having nice furniture.
If you’re a renter, your landlord won’t like you anymore. He’ll be worried that the dog is destroying the dwelling and/or infesting it with fleas, and he’ll make you pay through the nose for that. And your neighbors will complain when the dog barks. Count on it. The majority of people won’t rent to you at all. Full stop.
Oh, and fleas. Don’t even get me started. Fleas, ticks, dead animals, rolling in cat poo (the dog, not you)… all these things will become a part of your life.
But believe it or not, I’m not trying to talk you out of owning a dog. In fact, I highly recommend it. I just want you to think it through and know what you’re getting yourself into. Knowledge is power.
So many dogs need good and loving homes. And if you get one, I hope you’ll consider a rescue, and never buy from a pet shop. They just encourage puppy mills.
Remember, too, that dogs are social creatures. So if you leave your dog all alone, tied up in your back yard, I may just have to hunt you down and force feed you a 25 pound bag of dried kibble. And for heaven’s sake, please spay or neuter your pet. It’s the right thing to do.
(These are my boys. The photos were taken by me, and then artistically enhanced via Photoshop by my friend Martin. Thanks, man!)