Recently a friend asked what kind of dog Moxie is (he’s a bichon poo). She’s thinking of adopting one for herself. I truly hope she finds her baby, and I think she’s going to be a great dog-mom.
Later I was perusing the “free” section of craigslist (love me some curb alerts) and noticed that people constantly give up their dogs for non-reasons. “Moving” and “had a baby” are two of the most popular (does California not allow dogs? Are you worried that you’ll feed your baby to your pet?).
This got me thinking. Who should be a dog owner? How do you decide if you’re going to be a committed dog parent and avoid being that Craigslist asshole?
I’ve compiled a list of qualifiers to help you decide if being a dog-parent is for you.
1. Does your apartment allow pets? (Confession, when I got Moxie, I hid him from my landlord for six months before I moved. I don’t recommend this.)
2. Can you work remotely, bring your dog to work, or go home at lunch to let him out?
It’s pretty cruel to adopt an animal and then leave it alone for 40 hours a week. Do you really think you can leave all day, let him out when you get home, and then expect him to sleep when you do? Or listen to you?
Are you a patient person? Look, housetraining a dog takes a lot of consistency and effort. This animal has no idea why it can’t pee on your couch. You have to teach it. And it will suck for a while. You will have to clean up pee, poop, and other liquids. Can you do this as many times as it takes?
Can you get your ass out of bed/off the couch?
Dogs don’t understand “too early” or “hungover.” They rely on you to feed them and let them out. Are you willing to stand outside in the snow praising your pup excitedly when he poops? Can you take him cool places so he can experience the world?
Are your friends cool with the breed? Some people don’t like big dogs (or little dogs). Some people don’t want dogs in their houses. This can really put a damper on your social life if you’re forced to stay home all the time, especially if your friends don’t want to come visit. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means, get a mastiff. I recommend pups in the 20-40lb range (anything larger: I consider doggie obedience classes mandatory).
Can you afford the incidentals (in both time and money)?
Mox needs food. He needs shots. He needs groomed.
One time he played with a ball so much that he hurt his hind legs. We had to pay for x-rays. Bite marks once cost us a small fortune in vet bills. We once had to bail him out of the pound when a neighbor kid let him out of the yard.
And we’ve been really lucky so far. Dogs are expensive. Do you have money set aside?
Would a change in your circumstances change your mind?
If you think that having a baby means you can’t take care of a dog, please reconsider getting a pet. I know, no one on Craigslist thought “I’m probably going to give this animal to a stranger in two months,” but I encourage you to really think about this beforehand, and be honest with yourself.
Can you handle the cuteness, and the inevitability that you’re going to become obsessed?
Because you will be. You might not fill up a blog post with pictures of him, but you’ll have to resist the urge to talk about your baby. And you know what? It’s for a good reason. My little man sat with me through cancer treatment and made me smile when he’d wag his tail after sniffing my face. He ran up the aisle to help walk me down on my wedding day. He makes me laugh every single day, and I can’t imagine our little family without him.
SO, now that you’ve thought about this choice from multiple angles, and you’re sure that you’re really ready, go get your fur-baby. We need more responsible and loving pet owners.
(Am I forgetting anything? What else should people think about before getting a pup?)