Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Get a Puppy

Hello!

Oh boy, this is going to be a long one... but it will be worth it, just stick it out with me!
I am at the age where all of my friends are getting married, getting pregnant, or getting pets. The last one is what I'm focusing on today. It’s understandable; most of them are just graduating from college, finally living in their own place, and have control over the choices they make, finally! But, that doesn't mean that one should jump into pet ownership. No, getting an animal isn't quite the same commitment as having a child or getting married, those are life changing decisions... except wait... if you have a dog you have to rush home after work to let him out, make sure he is fed, walked, vetted, has a crate or other space that is his and arrange care for him when you leave for long periods of time... hm. Sounds like a lifestyle change to me. The average dog lives between 10 and 14 years. So it’s only about a 5th of the time you are committing to a child or a spouse... but really a decade is still a huge commitment!
But they're so cute!
One of my friends recently had a situation where they needed to rescue a neglected puppy from a co-worker's backyard. He bought the puppy on a whim, he had his own place and he did it because he could. His friends came by to check on the puppy. He didn't feed regularly; you could see its ribs. Its fur was matted and disgusting. Its nails had never been clipped. It was left alone in the house during weekends so he could spend the night at his friends and party. My friend just took his dog, he was planning on selling to someone anyways. It had never been vetted, so it was never registered in his name. My friend is currently trying to rehome this sweet puppy and is getting it the medical care it needs.

No poor animal should ever suffer in its own filth because the human responsible for it doesn't want to bother. But this happens all too often. Someone buys a puppy, and by the time its 10 to 12 months old, they are being rehomed because the owner doesn't have time for it, or the dog needs more care than they can give, or they are moving and aren't willing to bring the dog along. When I see these things on Facebook or craigslist, I honestly feel rage. Rage. I don't want to be offensive, but its actions like these that cause so much animal homelessness in our communities. People buy a puppy, which creates a demand for puppies, but then those puppies grow into dogs and get dumped in the middle of a field far out of town when they get to be too much of a hassle or too big a responsibility, or they just get too big.
Well that was quick, six short months later. 
Dogs rely on humans. This is just how it is. We have bred them to work for us, to serve us, and to rely on us for guidance and shelter and care. They are our responsibility. Even if you aren't a dog person, that’s okay. Just don't get a dog if you aren't 100% sure you are up to the task.
If you are considering a dog, here are some of the ways you will be affected and have to change your lifestyle.
This tiny black puppy is now sixty pounds! And she isn't even a year old yet. 
  •  Financial – this is probably the one that people consider most. We spend an average of 150 dollars a month on our two dogs (the rescue pays for everything for our foster dogs). We just spent 3500 dollars on Basil to have surgery on his back knees because he had torn cruciate ligaments and could hardly walk. You need to vet them, make sure they get their monthly medication such as heartworm preventive and tick and flea guard. Then there are the toys, treats, bones, and ropes that they will mow through as soon as you buy them. Crates, bedding, various weather things (we got our dogs boots for the snow so the salt did not irritate their feet) and emergency vet visits are all costs to consider when thinking about getting an animal. If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it.
  •      Planning – When you want to go out after work, if your friend wants you to stay over for the weekend, you have a significant other who wants to take a trip with you. You can do these things, after you have found and made arrangements for your pet. If you are going on a long vacation and you don’t have a REALLY good friend who will watch your dogs as a favor, the cost of pet boarding is probably going to be as much as your human hotel for your trip. 10 days at a value Disney resort is 1000 dollars… 10 days of pet boarding for 2 dogs is also 1000 dollars. You need to come home right after work because your dog has been alone for 8 to 10 hours and really needs to be let out and fed. Your friendships and other relationships may have to take a back seat sometimes. The dog needs to be near the top of your list of priorities. 
  •      Time - Dogs should be walked and exercised every single day. They should have occasional trips to the dog park. They need to be trained when you get them, it requires time and energy. Some dogs, like Basil are a breeze to teach obedience commands to, other dogs (Scout…) are as fast as a turtle running through molasses… they just take a lot more work and time and patience to “get it”.  I see so many dogs get abandoned and or thrown out because they are “high energy”. Dogs need mental and physical exercise. If you sat alone all day you would probably freak out when another living thing came home to let you out. Especially if you were locked in a crate or confined to one bedroom. Dogs will be more likely to greet you calmly if they know that when you come home they will be walked and fed, every day. When dogs aren't walked or given any kind of exercise on a daily basis, they become destructive. I always see people post on pet advice pages “How can I get my dog to stop eating/chewing/destroying things” Well do you walk them? “No… but..”  No. Just walk them. There is nothing else. No secret trick. Walk your dog every day, and they won’t feel this urge.
  •      Property – This brings us to the next thing to consider… when you adopt a dog or a puppy there is ALWAYS an adjustment period. Are you willing to risk some of your belongings working with an animal that might have some issues when you get it? I have lost so many shoes to foster dogs… And to Basil when he was still a lil baby. Scout was a destructive maniac the first month we had him. He has improved, with a lot of time and patience, but man that first month was hellish. I kept thinking we had made a mistake and maybe we weren't the right family for him. Then I had to remember he has been in six different homes in the first year of his life. Of course there is going to an adjustment period, and some stress, and some damaged belongings. But we loved him, and it was worth it to us to work with him until he improved. If you cannot bear the thought of a puppy ruining anything in your house, don’t get one.
  •      Messes – Dogs are surprisingly similar to children. You have no idea how many times I have been woken from a deep slumber to the horrible sound of a dog vomiting. So many times we have come home to a ripe smell coming from their crate. One time Scout and all of the foster puppies had a horrible case of the poops. I bought a different brand of treats one time that just did not sit well with the doggies. I looked in the crate.. Scout had diarrhea’d on Medusa. That’s not even the worst mess I have had to clean up. Dogs can’t tell you when their stomachs feel queasy or if they are nauseous. It just happens. There was a time that Randy and I both were home in bed for 2 days because we could not stop vomiting. Scout and Basil sympathetically stayed in bed and cuddled with us. Well.. I just happened to be leaning over my own puke bowl when Basil leans his head over it as well, and vomited straight into the puke bowl… smart dog. But still gross. Every time it rains, they track mud back into the house and on the carpet if I don’t catch them before they run in so I can wipe their paws. My car? Don’t ever think you will sit in my car and not leave it with dog hair stuck to the seat of your pants. My dogs don’t have long fur, but they ride in my car often, and vacuums just can’t get it all.
Basil wasn't even the one who knocked the tree over. I found Scout and our three foster puppies hiding in their crate looking guilty. They left him holding the bag. Also... look at my blinds. Puppies. 
I’m not saying nobody should ever get a dog. I didn't write all of this to complain about my woes of dog ownership. Being a dog owner is one of the decisions in my life I would never change. They are my family. That is what I am getting at. You wouldn't divorce a spouse because you don’t have time for them. You wouldn’t put your child up for adoption because they make a mess. A dog should not be any different. That is the thing I want you to take away from this. If you LOVE animals, but you can’t commit to keep one until it dies of old age, then why not foster or volunteer at a shelter? Or you could donate time or money to your local community rescues. You could be a part of outreach programs to educate others on responsible pet ownership. There are so many ways to show your love for animals without buying or adopting one. If you are not ready or able, there is nothing wrong with that, unless you go ahead and get a dog anyways. Then you are doing a disservice to yourself and harming that animal.

Being a dog owner is so worth it. My new shoes Basil chewed up don't greet me at the door with their butts wagging, offering kisses. There is nothing quite like the unconditional love of a doggie. Owning dogs has helped me deal with depression, and has improved my health by making me get active so my dogs get the exercise and care they need. My house is not spotless, and the money I spend on the dogs could probably be put towards a nice new car payment, but there is nothing like my husband working nights, and not having to sleep alone because I always have a dog or two that will snuggle right next to me and help me not feel lonely.

Please be responsible for your pets. We have to protect them; we are their only advocates as they can’t defend themselves. I hope I can help educate people and encourage responsible pet ownership.

I hope you enjoyed reading, sorry it was so long, but it is important. Until next time,


Christine 

2 comments:

  1. Every word you wrote is soooo true. I can't imagen my life without lil miss. Shots and dips once a week to keep her healthy and happy Is nothing compared to all the kisses and love she gives back.😊

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    1. Thanks for the comment Auntie! I get my dog loving side from the Deleons! =] Dogs are family!

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