OK, so here’s the deal. As much as I adore dogs, they’re not for anyone. And the last thing I want is for people to rescue a dog, only to have to return it further down the track. So here’s my list of pros and cons of dog ownership, with rose-tinted glasses securely off:
- After a rough day, there is nothing more therapeutic than seeing my dogs. Their utter delight on my returning home is contagious. My bad mood never stood a chance.
- I became part of a community of dog-lovers – an instant bond at dog parks, parties or even at work. I can talk for hours about dogs (much to the dismay of some dear friends).
- Watching my dogs play reminds me daily of the importance of remaining playful in my own life.
- Walking my dog is my daily meditation. It gets me out in the sun and gives me a chance to take some deep breaths. It reminds me there is more, much more, to life than work.
- ‘Date nights’ will take a bit more planning. At least until your puppies are a bit older. As soon as you walk out the door, the look of misery on your dog’s face will make you wanna turn back. And at dinner, you’ll be wondering if your dog is OK. Often, this is our own anxiety more than the dog’s, but there are various ways to make it better. On the plus side, I think our shared love for our animals has made my relationship with my husband much stronger. I am proud of his kindness to animals and his big heart, more generally.
My dogs can happily stay on their own for a few hours now. We achieved this by gradually increasing the time that we left the dogs alone, not fussing over them when we were leaving the house or returning, making sure the dogs had enough mental and physical exercise during the day and using some ‘environmental enrichment’ (kong toys, scattering treats around the house for them to find when we were gone, etc). Getting a friend to dog-sit is another solution.
- Travelling takes more planning too. You have to find a boarding facility, that you trust, that you’re not going to worry about when you go on holiday. Long trips overseas quickly become expensive if you’re paying for boarding. Again there are a variety of options, such as reputable pet-sitters. Leaving your dogs behind can take a bit of getting used to, but once again, it’s often the owners who worry more than the dogs.
- If you have a long-haired dog, prepare for hair, lots of it… think of it as a fine fur coat that lines your polished wooden floors, or a tasty addition to your cup of tea, or an adorable garland that finds it’s way to your best outfit. Requirements: powerful vacuum cleaner, lint remover, steely stomach, less attachment to possessions (eg brand new car) and a sense of humour to deal with the whole thing. But seriously, I love grooming my dog; it’s so therapeutic and a bonding experience. I’ve found this was the best way to reduce the amount of shedding.
What do YOU love or find challenging about having dogs?