So you started having a feeling that there is a something missing in your life? Maybe you grew up with a family pet and now you are finally on your own. Maybe your living situation changed and you are finally going to be able to get that puppy you’ve always wanted. Perhaps on a whim you looked at your local shelter and fell in love with a sad set of eyes. Could a lost and scared dog have found his/her way to your front door? Maybe you are an experienced dog owner whose best friend of 10 plus years of door greeting, tail wagging, following you around your house with unconditional faithful love and affection has left a void in your heart when he or she passed. No matter the scenario your thinking about getting a dog!
I fall under the later. I lasted three days. Three days of waking up without a bad back from my best friend roscoe snuggling against me all night. Three days of looking down and behind me and seeing nothing. Three days of saying the same things I used to say when we woke up, went for a car ride, his smile when I could make a high pitched happy sound, a walk, time to eat, playing, time for bed, sharing my snack while I read, and finally bed again.
I bring up Roscoe, my mutt who was found in the middle of nowhere NC, not because I want to start off on the sadness of loss, but to speak about the joys I found by having my own dog. I had military working dogs before, but it wasn’t the same. Roscoe got me through my twenties and I wouldn’t be the same person today if he had not been in my life. Having Roscoe opened my eyes up to the awesome responsibility of having a pet.
I say awesome because it was that. He brought a smile and laugh to me every single day. I say responsibility because it was that. He depended on me for his basic needs and it was my responsibility to provide them for him. Food, water, shelter, medical care, and my favorite love and affection were a constant necessity.
Let’s briefly talk about the responsibility of owning a dog. I only want to touch on this because I think the demographic taking the time to read this blog does not fall under the category of past, present or future irresponsible dog owner. I also believe too many terrific well qualified dog owners are scared off of the prospect by well-intentioned but unrealistic dog owners, enthusiasts, and providers. Keep in mind I am not speaking of every agency nor am I speaking against the countless individuals who sacrifice so much for stray, abandoned, and abused animals as a whole. They are saints, but in my opinion they generalize too much in their search of potential dog owners. Their methods are the safest, but some really great people are passed over and worse are left feeling like they don’t have what it takes. Many of them live in areas where animals are treated like dirt and over time become jaded in their thinking of humans.
In their defense they witness unimaginable horrors every day when an animal is placed in the wrong home. I am however concerned when a potential individual who has nothing but love in their heart is told they would make a horrible owner because they actually have a job and work or any other pre-loaded immediate disqualifier. DO NOT get frustrated and swear off owning a dog completely if you had a bad experience with an individual or agency. They mean well and provide a commendable service, but that doesn’t change the fact that YOU could make a great dog owner. The responsible thing is to be honest with yourself, if you can put something other than yourself on a higher order of importance and sacrifice doing what you want when you want you have the potential to be a dog owner.
Fiscally responsible is another manner. You have to understand that owning a dog is not only a commitment of time and patience, but also is very taxing on the bank account. A simple bag of dog food once a month isn’t a realistic option. Spaying/neutering, unexpected medical bills, emergencies, special food, allergies, dog walkers, dog sitters, it all can add up. Trust me it always happens at the worst time. You need to be honest with yourself before getting a dog and understand that it is a commitment of financial responsibility over the course of years, hopefully a decade plus.
The joy of having a pet in your life is a really hard thing to explain to people who never had one. I will do my best. Imagine coming home from a long day at the job. In these times the economy sucks. People are quick to lash out about anything and you’ve been yelled at, spoken down to, and underappreciated all day. Your miserable and unlock the door. Even before you open the door you hear a familiar howl, a tail banging against something, a quick movement inside your home. You open the door. You immediately forget your troubles because your best friend has been waiting all day to only see YOU.
Having a dog in your life is like being what a king or queen must have felt like. You become the center of the universe to this animal that would do anything for you. They radiate an energy that makes you feel like the most import person ever. The best news is they do this on a daily basis. You will always have someone to confide in, laugh with, or even to share a cry with. All your experiences and accomplishments will now be shared. Sure they may not know what the accomplishment is, but they will celebrate all the same. Dogs are social beings. They are wired to be an interactive part of your daily life and make you feel better in the process. Many times they don’t have to do anything. Just their mere presence has a reassuring quality. Making the decision to open your heart up to the possibility of owning a dog is one of the best decisions you can ever make.
photo by Viktor Hanacek