Bringing a dog into your home shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision. It takes research, dedication and lots of planning to make sure you and your new addition are the right fit. Amanda Schlee is starting her dog-search adventures in the hope of bringing home the perfect furry companion. Follow her journey as she journals her experiences, challenges and discoveries on the path to dog ownership.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a dog lover. Up until recently a trip to the mall was never complete without visiting the pet store. I’m in my late 20s and some women my age seem to be baby crazy, but I am dog crazy. I’m the only dog lover I know who actually doesn’t own a dog of their own. However, it seems fitting that I live in the dog friendly town of Oakville where we have more vet offices than doctor’s offices. I live with my husband (we’re newlyweds for two more weeks!) in our family size home without any babies or fur babies.
One thing I remember from my childhood was that I always wanted a dog. I was actually never really around dogs but for some reason I knew I would love them and wanted one; maybe it was third child syndrome. I constantly nagged my parents with the “can we get a dog” line, making promise after promise of being the one who would walk it, feed it, take care of it (I made big promises for a six year old). Finally they agreed and it was the best day of my childhood life when we brought home my beloved Roxy, our beagle.
My parents saw an advertisement in the newspaper for beagle puppies for sale; we went to the farm, picked her out and took her home. I’ve since learned that we didn’t have any paperwork or health clearances on Roxy or her parents, but we had her for 10 happy years, she was fairly healthy and was a great dog.
My husband and I hope to get our own dog one day, sooner rather than later. However, I’m aware of how much a pet will change our lifestyle and I’m not totally convinced we can take on the responsibility of a dog just yet. Aside from that, we can’t even agree on what breed we both want.
Like people, all dogs are unique, each with their own set of traits. If I were a dog, my personality would be “master of research, organization and planning”. I am constantly learning about different breeds because there is just so much to consider. This way I figure I can put them on my yay or nay list and, when the time finally comes, all my research will be done.
Time away from the house is our biggest challenge right now and the main thing holding us back from getting a dog. Between working and commuting, our dog would be home alone for 10 hours a day. I know dogs like to sleep but they also love to see their owners and have a bathroom break throughout the day. In my opinion, this length of time alone just doesn’t seem fair to a dog; especially a puppy.
My suggestion for anyone looking to get a dog is figuring out if you have the time for one. Do you have the time to wake up earlier in the morning and walk it before going to work? Do you have some way a letting your dog have a mid-day bathroom break? Do you have time to walk it and spend quality time with it in the evenings and on weekends? This isn’t just a couple of times a week; this is a daily commitment for what you hope would be 10 plus years. If you don’t think about these things ahead of time you can be setting yourself up for a stressful home life with a stressed out dog. If there is one thing I learned from Roxy, dogs really are like kids, kids that never become self-sufficient. And to all the parents considering a family pet – don’t believe the promises your six year old makes; in fact not many teenagers will voluntarily help either. So you may as well consider yourself down a few helpful hands (or feet) in this department.
After considering the time factor involved start thinking about the financial responsibility of owning a dog. If you were to buy a pure bread dog from a reputable breeder it would cost anywhere between $900 – $1500, then another couple of hundred for spaying or neutering – those are the one time fees and the cheap part of owning a dog! Financially you have to consider if you have the extra funds for food, toys, training lessons, annual check ups at the vet and medications should your dog need it down the road. Also, are you willing to sacrifice something for yourself should an unexpected pet expense pop up? I don’t want to sound like I’m going overboard but if you truly love your pet and treat it well, than like children, your life is not just about you anymore.
Next, and what I consider the fun part, start thinking about breeds you like. Start with size; do you like small or large breeds? Does everyone involved in taking care of your dog agree? Do you have space for a large dog (if that’s what you like)? Size is one thing my husband and I can agree on when it comes to dogs, we both prefer medium to large breeds (that’s one check mark for us). However, if it were totally up to my husband we’d have Bernese Mountain dog or Newfoundland dog, and a house full of long black fur; something I’m not so keen on.
I suggest picking up a pet magazine, continue researching on PetGuide.com and stop dog-walking neighbors during your own daily walks (might as well get used to these now), and ask what type of dog theirs is (if you think it’s cute). Parks, particularly with off leash dog areas are another great way to see a variety of breeds to help get your research going. Basically if I see a dog I think is cute I look it up! Please remember all puppies are cute so it’s important to look at pictures of breeds both as puppies and full-grown. Start putting them on your own yay and nay list strictly for size and looks. Once you have this going, it’s time to learn everything you can about the yay list, and see which breeds match your personality and life style.
There is so much to consider about a dog’s personality, I hope to continue to share with you what I take into consideration and vice versa. I’d also love hearing from dog owners who want to share info about their own dogs, after all that really is the best kind of research.