So You Wanna Get a Dog?

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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:

THE GOOD

  • 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.

THE BAD

  • ‘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.

THE UGLY

  • 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?

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4 thoughts on “So You Wanna Get a Dog?

  1. Gianysh Toolsee says:

    Nice blog.

    I love having dogs because they always remain a true friend, no matter what and they show genuine feelings.

    If a dog is properly trained and is well understood by the owner, there is little to hate about having dogs. When they become more mature, they tend to understand what is right and what is wrong.

    I received a puppy from my dad when I was 9 and “Jackie” shared our lives for 12 years before disappearing in the sugarcane fields. They know when the time has come to say bye.

  2. Thank you for your comment! They are the best friends in the world, and you are so right when you say ‘properly trained’ and ‘well understood’ by the owner; so much of a dog’s character depends on these two things. One of the reasons so many dogs end up in the pound is that people think ‘this is a bad dog’, but a little training and love goes a long way (with dogs, children and husbands :)) . Rest in peace Jackie …

  3. Azadeh Houshmand says:

    LOVE it – wish I had a blog like this back when we got Bentley. We are one of the ones who got a dog but ended up having to give it away because I couldn’t deal with the points stated under “bad” and “ugly”…. but the good news is that we gave him to people we know, and he now has a loving home with a couple who have time for him.

    One of the things I found hardest about having a dog was finding the time and energy to walk the dog, and to train him. Bentley was a golden retriever, who started off as as little bundle of energy and turned into a HUGE bundle of energy. He was impossible to tire. So I felt I constantly felt guilty, and I mean CONSTANTLY! if i walked him for half an hour, i felt guilty that it wasn’t an hour. If I took him to the park to play with other dogs, I felt guilty that I hadn’t taken him for a long walk first. I felt guilty on the days when we only had time for two 10 minute walks. I just constantly felt I wasn’t being a good enough dog owner and even though Bentley was a sweet, gentle and loving dog, I felt like he wasn’t happy. My boyfriend didn’t agree – he felt Bentley was just fine. When our daughter was born, things of course didn’t get better. On days when I was exhausted from taking care of a little baby, and it was raining and storming outside (we live in Denmark where the weather is bad 80% of the time) – the last thing I wanted to do was take Bentley for a walk. And when my boyfriend took him for a walk, I was resentful because when he finally came home after a long days work, I wanted him to spend time with Sienna and me – not to take the dog for a walk!! And when he had night shifts or weekend shiftts and I was extra exhausted from having to be alone with a baby all day- that was the absolute worst time, where I really wished we didn’t have Bentley…

    I just always wished I had more time for our dog. But perhaps the problem was that I just wasn’t dedicated enough…I guess you have to really love having a dog and be dedicated to it 100% – When i think about it, for me the pros of having a dog were far outweighed by the cons. And so I guess the reason I always felt I could be doing better was cause- well — I probably could! I just wasn’t dedicated enough. I was so relieved when we gave him away because finally my black conscience was cleared – in his new home I know he gets several long walks a day in a nearby forest and I know he is loved dearly, and that’s all that matters. We have visited him a few times and it means a lot that we are able to do so. Because deep down in my heart I am an avid animal lover, and I feel bad that I wasn’t able to care for Bentley the way I wish I had been able to…but he was just too much of a mouthful for me at the time. If we ever get a dog again, it will be a small, lazy dog that doesn’t need a lot of walking and exercise…a dog that is quite content sleeping on the couch – and a dog that likes kids. But again, since for me the pros were far outweighed by the cons, I don’t think having a dog is a good idea. Maybe we’ll get a cat instead 🙂

    • Thanks for your honesty about Bentley 🙂 I think the best thing we can do is admit when we’re in over our heads. What makes me sad is when people hold on to the dog, even when they know they can’t provide it what it needs; you did the responsible thing. Bentley sounds like he is doing great. Do you still get to see him? One of the things I want to do with this blog is provide honest advice for those who are struggling with their dogs; I think all too often we are sold the ‘Disney’ version of having dogs, and then we become disappointed when the reality hits. btw cats are awesome!

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