My daughter is thinking about becoming a dog mom. She is currently a twenty-something career girl who lives with a roommate in a large southern city. She has freedom to come and go as she pleases and boy, she surely does! She could rarely be called a house mouse.
|daughter with baby annie|
We all know the absolute joy of having something that idolizes you, gives unlimited kisses and never tires of snuggling. This advice may come across as negative, but if you are well acquainted with me, you'll know that's not the case. If it weren't for my sensible husband, I'd be either an animal hoarder or a crazy canine-rescue person.
So here is my advice to my darling daughter and everyone like her thinking of taking on a pet:
1. It is very much like giving birth to a human baby. The main difference is that you are allowed by society and the law to lock a puppy in a kennel for a few hours without being arrested. What I mean by comparison is the YOU part of your life comes to a complete standstill, (or end) as you attempt to keep another living organism alive. And that is all it will be for several months. Or forever.
2. The first few weeks are fraught with lack of sleep, as you get up two or three times at night, or actually in the wee morning hours to take it outside in every sort of weather to potty. Also, it is the first time the baby has been away from its mom and siblings, so the high-pitched crying is frequent and LOUD as you try to sleep. Putting her in bed with you helps with the crying and will work, as long as it doesn't WET your bed. Yuck. AND, you still have to rise, attend to morning puppy duty and groom yourself before arriving bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at your real job that pays for your fabulous life.
3. If you leave home for work, plan to rush back at least once a day to rescue puppy from the kennel. (You don't want another case like Lulu, our aged dachshund on your hands... thinking that the kennel is the place to relieve oneself.) The minute you get off work, you'll have to make a beeline back home... no stopping, no shopping, no aimless wandering through Super Target, dining out, etc. You are a mom. Your baby needs you.
4. On Fridays and weekends, no working all day, then meeting friends after work or staying out all night, then expecting to catch up on sleep. If puppy has been napping or incarcerated for a few hours, she'll want to socialize and play. No excuses. No sleep. For either of you.
5. Puppies eat your favorite sweater and poo in the kitchen, where your roommate will step on it in the dark. It will pee on the rental apartment carpet and chew the heel off just one of several pairs of your favorite shoes and rip the crotch out of your underwear you left on the floor of the bathroom. Puppies and dogs will consume poo if they discover it. They will tump over the garbage can. Repeatedly. They will eat that muffin you were saving for breakfast that you left on the floor in your tote bag. Then they will vomit chunky muffin-slime into the carpet.
6. They have to have regular shots like a baby. They must be carried to the vet every few months in the first year of life and a couple times a year after that... IF they're healthy. (Think Riley, poor little Hallie, dear sweet Sophie and Bridget. Sniff. A moment of silence.) You won't spend money on pet insurance because it sounds sketchy. Plan for BIG bucks in vet costs... unless you meet and marry a vet. (Which is actually not a bad idea.)
7. Everyday maintenance costs are staggering as well: Food isn't cheap. You will replace their beds and toys containing squeakies when they gut them. Nails must be clipped, anal glands expressed & teeth brushed... just like a kid. Except for the anal glands.
8. When you go on that FAB international vacay you've saved three years for, who will mind the baby? Don't count on the roommate. They can't even remember to take the keys out of the front door when they come home.
9. The hair. Enough said.
10. All things die. Dogs get sick. When they feel bad, they can't tell the vet what hurts... so the well-meaning Doc, who is like a member of your Fam basically runs experiments to see what works. At your expense, of course. And you will pay. This is bone-of-your-bone and flesh-of-your-flesh... even if it only looks like a dog.
So, what will you decide? Are you utterly bereft after reading these words? NOT my intention at all. Dog or pet ownership, just like parenting is not for the faint of heart. Many haven't had the guts to take the plunge because of things like the above ten... and I could've kept going, but I was becoming depressed. As stated before, I'd rescue them all.
Take a deep breath. Weigh the pros and cons. Check your finances and rental agreement. Look at the calendar. Truthfully and honestly, without those rose-colored glasses and without gazing fondly at irresistible puppy photos, think about how your world would change and if you can manage that much change at this point in your life. If you proceed, there's only one more thing to say...
Congratulations! Your life now belongs to a dog