You can learn a lot from a dog.
Dogs are animals.
Dogs are a responsibility.
Dogs require commitment, consistent training, a heck of a lot of love and attention, a sense of routine and predictability when it comes to behavioural expectations and consequences, and sometimes their own lines in the household schedule and grocery list.
Dogs are costly. They can get sick or injured and medications or surgeries are very expensive. They need preventative medications every year and vaccinations every few years. We do a monthly budget report and Juno has her own line in the spreadsheet.
Dogs need healthy food.
Dogs need plenty of regular exercise.
As puppies, dogs need constant supervision and good training. We felt like we brought home an instant 2-year-old with Juno – she was into everything the night we brought her home. We literally followed her around to start teaching her what was ok for her to play with and what wasn’t. The learning curve was a straight line – UP!
We learned on-the-job. When she wasn’t crying or whining those first nights, she was making a mess…of the bathroom kind. And there was no diaper, so we became intimately acquainted with fluids and solids wicked fast. We stood out in 3am rainstorms to teach her to go to the bathroom.
Nearly five years later, it’s a lot more fun, but she is still a big responsibility. Juno remains our first priority. She gets taken into account when we do anything from making evening and weekend plans to travelling to having furniture delivered or something installed or repaired.
We take care of her food and exercise requirements first, before we even start to do what we’ve got planned. We’ve learned that, especially with a bigger, more active dog, it’s easier to have a calm, my-needs-have-been-met dog underfoot than an overexcited, raring-to-go animal while you’re trying to get stuff done around the house or have extra people over. It’s true – a tired dog is a happy dog, which makes for happy, productive owners and more time for relaxing as a family together later.
Dogs take a lot of work. They need to be made a priority. And we can’t decide priorities for other people. A dog is never a good present to give to someone as a surprise when they’re not prepared or involved in the decision. They are, however, a wonderful gift to give to your own family when everyone is on board with the decision and plans to fully commit to raising a healthy, happy dog for, potentially, the next 8-15 years.
How did you get your dog? Who made the decision? What factors did you take into consideration when you were deciding? We’d love to know!