This might seem like an odd title given the fact that I have way too many dogs… 16 of them, in fact (see my previous post 10 + 1 = 16). But seriously, some people just shouldn’t have dogs.
I understand the appeal… I blame Norman Rockwell with his pictures of boys and their dogs. Of course, that’s the idealized version of having a dog… then there is reality, and sometimes they don’t agree.
If you have your heart set on getting a dog, then let me give you some words of advice. I have lived with dogs for years. I grew up with family dogs. When I moved to Arkansas, I started a rescue and at the peak of my service, I had 25 dogs. I also work for a veterinary surgical facility, so I work with dogs all day long… sometimes 15 or more hours a day, and then go home to my own dogs.
I tell you this not to impress you, but to let you know that I have some knowledge of the dog world, and the pros and cons of having dogs. You may not agree with all of my opinions, but I ask that you at least consider them before simply pressing the “back” button and finding something a little more light-hearted to read.Having a dog is a life-time commitment. Click To Tweet
1. Dogs are a life-time commitment. They are not a commodity. They are not possessions that you can throw out when you get tired of them. Getting a dog is a lot like having a baby. You can’t just change your mind and send it back.
2. When you get a dog, you accept responsibility for that life. You are agreeing not just to provide food, water and shelter, but also time and companionship. Your dog will want to be your very best friend. Don’t deny him that opportunity.
3. Let me tell you about puppies… they chew everything. Puppies don’t just automatically know that they are supposed to go outside to take care of business. You have to teach them that. Puppies don’t know that it isn’t okay to bite, or to jump on you. You have to teach them that too. If you don’t have the patience to train a puppy, go to your local shelter and adopt an adult dog instead. It will be better for you, and for the dog.
4. Research breeds. Don’t get a dog based on looks. Make sure you understand their personality and temperament. Some breeds are better with just one person; others are great with children. Some breeds are incredibly active; others are lap warmers. Make sure you get a dog that will fit in with your environment. Some traits are breed specific and can’t be trained out of a dog.
5. Having a dog is a financial commitment. Dogs can be very expensive.
- They need to be spayed or neutered at a young age. This is important for several reasons, but the most important are keeping the population of unwanted dogs to a minimum, and preventing diseases that affect unaltered dogs. Spaying or neutering a dog typically costs between $100 and $250 dollars.
- They need to be vaccinated. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory, but your puppy also needs a variety of other shots — parvo being a very important one! An annual wellness check with vaccinations will probably cost $100. But, it’s just as important for Fido to have an annual check up as it is for you!
- Specialty medicine. Hopefully, Bella will never need the services of a veterinary specialist, but if she does, you’d better have a savings account set aside for her expenses, or a good pet insurance plan. A typical surgery at our hospital starts at $2500. A total hip replacement is $6600. A total elbow replacement is $6800.
6. What is a lifetime? For anyone who has had and loved a dog (or several!), you know that the lifetime of a dog is considerably shorter than ours. You’ve probably heard about “dog years” being equal to 7 human years. In general, the larger the dog, the short it’s life span. Giant breeds typically live only 8 years. Large breeds 10 – 12. Medium breeds up to 15. Small breeds can live up to 20 years. So, if you are choosing a pet for a child, keep the typical lifespan in mind. You may not want to take care of Suzie’s geriatric dog when she goes off to college!
Sometimes the line of work I do is very hard. We have people who call because their dog was hit by a car, or shot by a neighbor, or has a tumor. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars set aside for their dog’s medical care. We often see healthcare decisions being made on the basis of finances. Sometimes a dog is put down because the family can’t afford the medical care it needs.
Other times, clients will do whatever they have to do in order to pay for the services their dog needs, only to find that medicine is limited, and sometimes we can’t fix what’s wrong. So, you have to be prepared for the heartache that will eventually come.No one will ever be happier to see you than your dog. Click To Tweet
But, if you are up to the challenge, get ready to experience unconditional love. You will be greeted when you come home as though you have been gone for years, and you are the most important creature on earth; no one will ever be happier to see you than your dog. You will have to learn to sleep on 20% of the mattress that is left after your dog has claimed the other 80%. People will know you have dogs, because you will always take a little of them with you wherever you go (some dogs more than others, depending on how much they shed!) But, your dog will be fiercely loyal and protective, and will trust you even more than you should be trusted. If you can’t offer the same in return, then don’t get a dog.
“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ”
― Roger A. Caras
Day 9 of My 500 Words Challenge