This post is something I’ve wanted to do up for a while because I think it’s an important one. Regular readers of my blog know that I’m a devoted dog owner and lover – when I started my blog over two years ago I actually named it after my beloved furry friend (Classic Maggie). I love Maggie to death and cherish having her in my life; that said, it’s not always bully sticks and belly rubs (ha!). In addition, I’m not sure that everyone truly understands what is involved with getting a dog. So I’m here to inform you of what it really involves!
It’s a responsibility
First and foremost, having a dog is a responsibility. Your dog will depend on you for everything – food, water, shelter, pets, belly rubs, entertainment. Puppies are even more work – they need a lot of attention and care. When you commit to getting a dog, you should commit to taking care of that animal for it’s entire life. Dogs aren’t disposable like toys – they are living, breathing beings who feel emotions and have feelings. They get attached to their families just like humans do and feel pain and sad when they are separated from you. Nothing makes me sadder than hearing about dogs that are abandoned at a shelter because their owner just decided they’re not a cute puppy anymore or they don’t work with their lifestyle. Obviously sometimes extenuating circumstances dictate someone having to surrender their pets but overall animals should never be looked at as disposable. If you decide you want a dog, ensure you’re in it for the long haul.
This probably isn’t news to anyone that owning a dog can be expensive. However, you might be surprised to know just how expensive it is and how quickly costs can add up. On average we spend over $1500 a year on food/treats, daycare, grooming and an annual vet visit, all of which (aside from daycare) are pretty basic things. That can easily increase depending on any emergency vet visits, one-off costs (i.e. teeth cleaning or boarding) or if we need new supplies such as a new crate or bed. Other factors that can increase your basic costs are things like the size of your dog (higher food costs), medications or special diets.
You then have your unforseen costs that can really hit your wallet hard – such as those emergency vet visits. I’m fairly certain I was keeping our vet in business for the first 5 years of Maggie’s life; she has a condition called pica where she would eat anything and everything she found outside, such as fertilizer and road kill (for real). We were literally at the vet 3-4 times a year for a long stretch. Thankfully that seems to have subsided a bit as she’s gotten older but it was not a cheap few years for us.
Should we talk about the time that Maggie stole my new pair of glasses off the bed and proceeded to destroy them? One of her favourite things in her puppy stage was to steal things and get you to chase her around the house with them. Thankfully that stage didn’t last too long but I’m sure you’ve all heard the horror stories of dogs who like to annihilate shoes, furniture, drywall, etc.
You also have to take into consideration the cost of things like doggy daycare, dog walkers and training. If you don’t have a dog, doggy daycare probably seems like a ridiculous concept but believe me when I say it can be a lifesaver, particularly if you work full-time. Dogs need stimulation and exercise and both of those are great outlets if you’re unable to do it yourself. Pretty much any dog will benefit from some sort of training but it’s especially important to sign up for some if you have a puppy!
Having a dog is awesome but it doesn’t come without work. I’ve spent a lot of time spot cleaning carpets, washing bedding and bathing a dog at 2:00 AM who is a complete drama queen whenever she comes into contact with even a drop of water. On top of that we’re currently trying to curb her “little dog syndrome” which results in her getting super snarky and snappy with little dogs who just want to give her a sniff and say hello.
Training is another thing that will take up your time and requires a lot of consistency and commitment, particularly if you have a stubborn canine (not naming any names here…). Once you’ve done the classes, you need to make sure you keep enforcing those concepts otherwise you might end up with a princess who thinks she rules your household (again, not naming any names).
Sometimes I’ll come home after a long day and want to do nothing but laze on the couch and watch Netflix. Guess what? Maggie was at home and slept all day and is raring to go for a nice long walk. It may be the last thing I feel like doing but I oblige because I know it’s one of the highlights of her day. Same thing goes for her favourite “hide the stick” game she likes to play before bed.
Obviously having a dog isn’t exhausting by any means, but if you’re thinking that it’s going to consist of filling up their food bowl and giving them a pet here and there, you’re likely in for a rude awakening.
It can be stressful
We had Maggie just over a month before she got super sick (parvo was suspected) and required an overnight vet stay. That was the beginning of many vet visits and anytime she gets ill I’m always a little nervous and hope it’s nothing major. It can be really nerve-wracking to see your pet sick (even at times when it is their own damn fault!), especially because they can’t tell you what’s wrong.
We also travel a lot and Maggie rarely joins us – I can’t imagine what she’d be like on a plane (eeek!), nor do I think that being stuck in a hotel room would be enjoyable or fair to her. Thankfully my parents watch her for us about 90% of the time which is great. That other 10% of the time she goes to her daycare facility that offers overnight stays. I know she’s treated well there but she really did not do well the first few times we left her there overnight so I’m always concerned and worried about how she’s doing while we are away.
It’s a lifestyle change
If you don’t have a dog and are considering one, be mindful that you’re likely going to have to make some lifestyle changes once you do get one. You can’t (or really shouldn’t) be heading out for happy hour every night after a full day of work – your dog has been at home for hours and wants to see you and spend time with you. If you’re a couch potato make sure you do your research to find a dog that is on the same wavelength – most dogs enjoy exercise and need a change of scenery on a regular basis.
Having a dog may make you understand why people want to bring their dogs everywhere. Most dogs love being with their people so you instantly feel guilty for leaving him/her at home. We try to include and bring Maggie along when we can – she loves hiking and spending time in the mountains with us. I’d love to live in a city where dogs are welcome on restaurant/bar patios – the concept hasn’t really caught on too much here unfortunately. That said, I think it’s important to understand when and where it’s appropriate and when it’s not. When we were in Europe a woman had her dog sitting at the table in a restaurant – that’s too far. Plus not everyone is comfortable or likes dogs – so be respectful of others.
It will be hard to say goodbye
Saying goodbye to my childhood dog it was one of the hardest things ever and I know it’ll be even harder when the time comes with Maggie. It’s not something I like to think about it but I know as hard as that day will be, the happiness she has brought me over the years will far outweigh it.
It may make you do things you never thought you’d do
- Refer to yourself as “Mommy” or “Daddy”
- Let them sleep on and take up half of your bed
- Celebrate their birthdays with parties
- Make them steak dinners
- Dress them in clothing and costumes for holidays
- Buy them a carseat
- Sing to them in the car
- and more!
It’s a lot of fun!
I don’t want to be all doom and gloom here because that couldn’t be further from the truth! Maggie means the world to me and I can’t imagine life without her (nor do I want to). Our life has vastly improved since she came into it almost 11 years ago (welp). She keeps me active (on average I walk about 2 hours a day with her!), she’s my confidant (even if the conversations are one-sided), she makes me laugh every day and appreciate the little things in life!
If you’re considering getting a dog or pet, I hope you found my advice helpful! My goal with this post was to shed some light on the reality of dog ownership and encourage those considering a dog to think carefully before doing so. 🙂
Do you have a dog or a pet? Tell me about him or her below!
Read more about my furball Maggie in here – The Dog Behind the Blog