LET YOUR DOG BE YOUR GUIDE
Suddenly you find yourself in a pet store and are overcome with love for the tiny furry animal licking your face. Oh they are SO FREAKING cute!! What!! They are having a sale AND you can make payments. OMG sign me up!!!
The problem is that tiny little furry boy/girl in your arms is going to grow up and if you haven’t thought this out, you end up talking to someone like me within a year or two. Fido just isn’t working out in your family setting. Fido is too big, or too loud, destructive, sheds too much? Any sound familiar? Or you forgot that the apartment you live in allows dogs but they have a 30 pound maximum weight. My favorite is, well we just had a baby. You call me up and ask me if I could help you find your dog a new home. Worse yet, you abandon Fido/Fluffy at a shelter because you have convinced yourself that this is what the monster deserves.
Many of us do not really think it all the way through. Our hearts are beating so fast, you feel that overwhelming love come over you. You picture yourself taking the puppy for a walk, snuggling up to you in bed and how you will be the star of instagram, that’s all we think about. We forget about the puppy stage (which in some breeds can last 2 years), the torn shoes, the pee you walk into at night because the puppy just can’t hold it all night long. Or for those of us with other people at home, we never made sure everyone else was onboard and they just can’t stand the dog.
A dog like every other big decision in life should take time, be a family decision and be researched thoroughly. Our dog Lady Godiva was only 15 pounds when we picked her up at her breeders. She was 8 weeks old. Now at age 4 she is 175 pounds of drooling, shedding loveliness. Don’t get me wrong we LOVE ever inch and pound of her, but we knew what we were getting ourselves into. My husband and I talked it out then discussed it with our son who still lives with us. Then we went to the same breeder we bought our male mastiff from, because we knew that they bred for disposition and you don’t want a 180 pound monster at home. This took us over a year before we brought her home. Bottom line – take your time.
Start the research process. You can read about how to choose a breed here. Calculate what it’s going to cost you to raise this dog. Even if your new dog is perfectly healthy and never gets sick, you still have to account for vaccinations, licensing, microchipping, spay/neutering and annual visits. Then depending on the breed you have chosen there is going to be grooming. No matter the breed, you will have to clip nails, clean teeth and bathe them. Don’t forget about feeding your dog. I personally believe in buying the best food you can afford for your pet. I prefer raw diet, but there is kibble that is pretty darn good too. You also have to consider that if your dog has an emergency how will you handle the cost.
The Vet Emergency knows us well. I have gone running in there with dogs that were stung by bees and were having an allergic reaction, by dogs that had been mauled by other dogs and even a dog that jumped off of a table and broke her leg. Unfortunately we have seen it all and paid for it all. Just yesterday I had a call from a woman who loves her mastiff, but can’t pay for his medical care, he’s been sick for over a month and he needs a home. I surprise myself during these times, how I stay calm and not blow up at people. I remind myself that I have to be solid for the dog not for the person who promised to take care of that poor boy. I understand not having money, I have also been there, but I didn’t take a dog with me on that journey.
So now that we have accounted for the cost of the prospective dog, think about accommodations. Are you going to crate train, yes, then add in the price of a crate. Where will the new puppy go potty? Don’t forget a puppy that has not been fully vaccinated can not go to community areas where other dogs go. Where will the dog be while you are work? The dog will need a bed and be able to sleep inside. I prefer a dog to be with the family indoors and outdoors, I believe it helps them be a better socialized and happier animal. Puppies are imprinted the most between 8 and 12 weeks. What they experience during this time will follow them for the rest of their lives.
How about training? Do you have the experience to fully train your dog so that it grows up to be balanced? If not, do you have the finances to pay for puppy and obedience classes? These steps are crucial so that you end up with a great dog that won’t be a burden on you or someone else. This especially applies to those who purchase lap dogs and think their aggressive behavior is “cute”.
Another expense to consider is where will you house your dog while you travel. Pet boarding can get expensive and has to be factored in to your vacation budget. If you are taking Fido with you on your travels, factor in any added expenses such as air travel and/or additional costs at a hotel.
The last thing I think we forget about, even I, do not always run the numbers in my head for this one. That is time. How much time you will need for this dog. Time to socialize, time to take out for walks, time to take out for potty and mostly how much time you will have with Fido. If you are getting a puppy that has a long life span, Fido may be with you for the next 14 years. Make sure you are committed to that. You know, through thick and thin, through bad relationships, through marriage and divorce and especially if life throws you a curve ball and money gets tight. Do you have a backup plan? A godmother or father for the puppy? Someone who has committed to take them if life gets in your way? If all of us thought this through we wouldn’t have so many dogs in shelters or being euthanized everyday.
When you happen upon a puppy, think of what’s best and never make an impulsive adoption/purchase. I know there are happy stories out there, your neighbor who walked into a shelter and couldn’t abandon that “face” and ended up with the best dog ever conceived. Reality, however, is that most of the impulsive acts end up being someone else’s problem. Take your time, make a thought out decision and I promise you, you will have THE BEST companion you could ever ask for.