lifestyle

Teddy and Hamilton

There’s this beauty product that you’ve been dying to get your hands on. It seems like so many people have used it and loved it. This miracle cream is supposed to do everything for your skin from taking away wrinkles to making you the happiest woman alive. Oh, and the packaging is just the cutest ever and you know it’ll make for a great Instagram. You finally get it and try it, but you break out in hives everywhere. Wait a minute, no one mentioned hives. They all said it was the best thing ever and none of your friends mentioned hives. So you examine the label a little closer and, yep, there it is: a warning for hives.
I kind of feel like dogs should come with that warning label. I feel like by Instagramming and Snapchatting cute pictures and videos of my dogs, I’m only making pet ownership look like a walk in the park. Literally. And glossing over the fact that it’s so much more than cuteness and a little four legged friend to keep you company.
The truth is that while it is amazing it’s also so much work. There are parts that aren’t fun and there are parts that are downright unglamorous. 
For me, it’s worth it. I was never a dog person. In fact, I used to be terrified of dogs to the point where I wouldn’t even go to a friends house if I knew the dog would be out. (My friend Nicole had a golden retriever that I couldn’t even be in the same room with.) I have obviously grown out of that fear but it’s even weirder that I actually have two dogs now! Not just one TWO. And I love it. 
But… I work from home so I can spend a lot of time with them to make sure they’re happy and taken care of and I can afford them*.
That’s not to say that you have to have a lot of money to have dogs, you don’t. But you do have to have room in your budget for pet expenses. They are kind of expensive, especially puppies. And emergencies pop up that make them even more expensive.
Here are some cold hard truths about dog ownership that you won’t see on my Instagram.
1. Two dogs are not easier than one. Who said that and why did I believe them??? I do think having two dogs, at least for us, has been better than just one. But it’s definitely not easier!!! The main reason why we considered a second dog in the first place was so Teddy could have a friend. It worked– he doesn’t get lonely when we leave at all anymore. But now there are two sets of needs/wants/quirks. Eight paws. Two sets of hair to keep trimmed and clean. Two of everything: things to chase, things to leash up for walks, leashes to keep a hold of, piles of poop every morning (at least). 
2. It’s hectic. It’s not like they’re kids or babies that need your attention every minute, but when these dogs are moving, they are MOVING. Especially since I work from home, it can be ridiculously overwhelming to have two young pups playing and fighting for your attention!
3. So. Much. Poop. And pee. And puke. It’s a never ending cycle of cleaning up after these dogs. We figured out that Hamilton’s favorite chew sticks were making Teddy sick and he was throwing up every day. (We stopped giving him the sticks, don’t worry!) One day I was sitting on the floor folding laundry and Teddy started to do the gagging thing… and I scooped the sweatshirt (that I was wearing) under his mouth so he’d throw up on my sweatshirt instead of the carpet (of our rented apartment). It was pet ownership at its finest. 
4. I’m the first to admit that I’m very Type A and a control freak. In some ways, dogs have helped. They definitely reduce some anxiety and provide prospective and the occasional distraction. But… they bring other kinds of anxiety. This is a LIFE (or two in my case now) that is on the line. There’s all sorts of things that now cause me stress. Are there holes in this fence? The cars in the parking lot drive like maniacs around corners. Does this park have aggressive dogs? Is he eating enough? Did he eat something he shouldn’t have? Are cords put away? Oh god, did I fill the water bowl before I left? The barking dog down the hall will attack. Schedule the next vet appointment; make sure they get the right flea/tick treatment at the right time. Making sure their needs are met, that they’re happy and healthy, is absolute top priority. 

5. Training is also hard and not fun. It takes a serious amount of commitment. It was horrible with Teddy and it wasn’t so bad with Hamilton, but it still sucks. The fact that I know what I’m doing now definitely helps… but knowing how great it will be at the end is like an enticing carrot at the end of a long stick. I get frustrated with Ham when I should be more patient. He’s honestly doing 100x better than Teddy every did 😉 (This is all my fault with Teddy– we both were being trained!)
The first month of training is the hardest for everyone. The puppy is learning and everyone’s schedules are being rearranged and adapted. Even when the basic training is moving along though, there’s still all sorts of training to be done. Barking, sidewalk “etiquette,” respecting dog park boundaries, jumping, chewing, new tricks. Not only will this make your life easier (even though the actual training is tough), it is what the dogs need! They need to know you’re the boss and it is a great mental exercise for them to be learning new things all the time. 
6. And finally, dogs are a Commitment. With a capital C. I think it’s probably one of the biggest decisions you can make. You’re locking yourself in to being a pet owner for at least a decade. (Hopefully longer… Poodle breeds, thankfully, have super long lives. I’m hoping for 18!) While I don’t think there’s a perfect time to get a dog, I do think there are bad times. I wouldn’t get a dog in college or the first year in the workplace. You really have to be able to commit to being there for this pup for the next decade plus. And the dog will be factored into many, many of your decisions, both everyday and long term. You’ll have to find housing that allows dogs. You can’t just go on a trip willy nilly. Your partner or future partner will also have to be on board. He’s your dog through sickness and health, for better and for worse. 
I know too many people who get dogs and don’t understand or realize the actual commitment. It’s fun having a dog, but it shouldn’t be a fun decision. It’s a big, big decision that needs to be carefully thought about and considered from every angle. A dog isn’t something you have for a few months or years and then leave with your parents or something. They’re yours to take care of. To love and to protect!
Also my exhaustion from these dogs is not pictured on Instagram. Teddy was finally sleeping in and didn’t have to go outside the second he woke up. (Like I could actually put on clothes and go to the bathroom and get the coffee pot going before the morning walk.) But now with Hamilton in the mix, we’re up and out before the sunrises and the first two hours of the morning is high energy playtime. I. Am. Exhausted. They certainly keep me on my toes!!
So next time you see a really cute photo like the ones here, just picture me holding ten doggie bags of poop and a sweatshirt intentionally covered in puke 😉 They’re cute… but a lot of work.

Anyone else a hard truth about dog ownership to share?

xoxo
Say Hello





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

45 Comments

Liz

I'm so glad you shared this! I am in college and can't wait to get a dog, but it's true that it's a huge commitment. I'm trying to get my puppy fever under control and wait for a time when my life allows it. Thanks, Carly!

Reply
Megan CC

YES TO THIS. I wish I could send this to everyone that is considering getting a puppy. At least you took responsibility for Teddy and Ham. I lived with a guy who had a rescue who would pee and poop all over our townhouse because he refused to wake up in time to take the dog out. My other housemate and I would always end up cleaning it up because the owner never did either in time or properly, He would go to the clubs at night, cage the dog and not return until noon or later the next day. I felt so sorry for the dog but he kept his room locked so its not like I could help. The owner also needed training, You're so right when you say that new owners need training as much as new dogs do. Sometimes i feel like there should be a pet owners course to make sure you're ready for the responsibility of owning one.

Reply
carly

Ugh… that makes me so sad! I never thought of myself as a selfish person until I got Teddy… and then I realized what it felt like to not put yourself first!

Reply
Sarah Gouin

Great post – so important for people to understand what having a dog is really about. One of my dogs is old now and so several times a week I have to get up in the middle of the night, carry her down stairs and let her out – it isn't easy and it is tiring but that is part of the commitment and I love her dearly.

Reply
carly

Aw!!! Garrett (thankfully) is on "night duty" so he's the one going out in the middle of the night when Ham needs to go. Like last night. At 2am.

Even though it's hard, it's crazy what you'll do for a dog you love, right? <3

Reply
Alyssa Katherine

I just got a puppy 3 weeks ago and 100% agree, haven't slept more than 4/5 hours since. Definitely a lot more work than I ever would've thought. Good knowing I'm not the only 20 something experiencing it!

Reply
carly

Good luck with your new pup! The five week mark was a good turning point for us! Things started to "click" for Ham a lot easier!

Reply
Teal Shauck

Such a useful post! I think one of the most challenging things for me is other people! I've always had family dogs, so I'm used to the training and the stress, but now that I have a dog 100% on my own, I have to navigate the way other PEOPLE react to my dog. She's a bit fearful of people and takes a while to warm up, which lends some people to think she's not a nice dog (but she's the sweetest!) OR if she's acting up, finding the most polite way to let other people know that no, they cannot reprimand my dog in whatever way they see fit! It really is like parenting!

Reply
carly

Honestly, that was my FIRST thought when I got Teddy… Oh my god, all the families with dogs growing up… those Moms deserve an award!!!

Navigating the process of dealing with OTHER dogs is a whole different ballgame!!! (And owners… It makes me so uncomfortable when strangers want to hold Ham!)

Reply
Casey Thomas

This is spot on.

Thank you, Carly for posting this. I feel like so many people (including myself) don't know what they're getting themselves into, but now I wouldn't trade a single minute with my toy poodle, Toby, for anything! It definitely helps to establish a routine early on and stick with it… as hard as it may be.

Reply
Hannah Gierosky

My boyfriend and I got a puppy right around when you got Teddy, so it has been super interesting to see your progress with him and how it compares to our situation. Always good to know I'm not alone! I always offer up our pup for a few days to any friends who say they want a dog, just to give them a taste of what's in store. There was so much that I wasn't prepared for, even having grown up with a dog. Hard work, but so worth it!

P.S. My childhood dog was a poodle mix and he just passed away at a few months shy of 18. He was a spunky little guy right to the very end, so your hope of 18 years with your boys could very well come true!

Reply
Andrea

Thank you for saying this! I got a (senior) dog just one year ago and, even though people are always saying, Oh, I bet you love it!, (I do), but I have many frustrating moments (have even cried a few times). It is a balance of joy and non-stop work. Most people who don't have dogs forget the non-stop work part. Thank you Carly!

Reply
Angel Mount

My boyfriend and I just rescued a 9 month old corgi/terrier mix who came with my full name and was born on my birthday – it was fate! He's in grad school full time with an internship and I'm just out of college working part time. It's definitely a crazy time to have a dog but we're making it work.

Unglamorous things that have happened since I got her:
1. Woke up at 4am to her throwing up in her crate
2. She knocked over a candle and almost set the carpet on fire
3. Waking up at 7am every morning to take her out (even on my days off)

Despite the hassle and schedule arranging it is DEFINITELY worth it. She's saved me in so many ways and it's only been two weeks. Bonus: she is already house broken and knows sit, lay, stay, and can walk on a leash! Unfortunately she's recovering from her spay operation so she can't do a lot of fun things for another week (jump on furniture, go down stairs, exercise more than 20 minutes at a time…). Getting a dog is different for everyone but one thing we all have in common is the challenges!

P.S: We changed her name, we're not /that/ weird.

Reply
Cocktails at 6

Wow, thank you for posting this. You covered a lot of the realities involved in dog ownership. It is very important to consider the fact that your pet – be it a dog or cat or otherwise – is another life; not an accessory or passing interest or hobby.
The commitment is real, but the rewards are so huge. We got our doodle four years ago, and we haven't looked back. She is the center of our universe despite the considerations we have to make with her in mind. There is nothing better than coming home to a creature that loves you so unconditionally.

Reply
Caitlin Pidcock

This post was exactly what I needed to read as we are considering rescuing a second pup! We are going back and forth between a puppy or a 2/3 year old and there are definitely pros and cons to both. My biggest concern is the training process for a second puppy. We crate trained Hudson first, but now he stays out while we are gone. I'm wondering how that would work for a second dog? Thanks!

Reply
Rachel S.

Thank you for posting this… It absolutely breaks my heart to know that the few months after Christmas end up with so many dogs sitting in shelters because people were unprepared to accept the commitment that comes with pet ownership. More people need to understand everything you just wrote out and be very deliberate with their decision to become a pet parent! I got a cat almost a year ago now and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Reply
From Foothills to Fog

I've never had a puppy, but this post is so spot on! Just yesterday I was cleaning up dog puke! ha Our dog is almost 11, but still he comes first in our decisions to go on vacation or where we go camping, or just all aspects of our daily life. But like you said, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I had never had a dog before my husband and I started dating. And like you, I was scared of them growing up. But I can say for sure I would never not have a dog again. They are simply the best and all the hard work is 100% worth it. I love my Louis soo much!

Reply
Emily Mazo

I love posts about realities behind the photos, and this was so real and so sweet at the same time! Carly, you did a fantastic job of painting a realistic picture of dog-ownership: we can clearly see your love and happiness with your pups at the same time that we see the difficulties and struggles associated with it. The post was masterful! Not just a laundry list of complaints, but a true explanation of the ups and downs. And it read like all of your other posts (I'm very much in awe of your consistent voice, it really speaks to your writing abilities). I would love to see another post like this in the future, perhaps about running your own business?

http://techgrrrl.com/

Reply
Sabra Gilbert

Even for people who grew up with dogs, owning your own dog is COMPLETELY different! I thought getting little Fox would be a breeze since I had grown up around dogs. But having it be a life that YOU have to take care of is crazy! It was even worse that he had to be picked up at 5 weeks (due to mom's milk drying up early!) and a puppy that young is soo hard to take care of, even with working from home. Waking up two or three times in the middle of the night for a puppy that needs to potty is rough! But while he is the biggest pain of my life, he is also the love of my life! If you want to see his adorable face, he has his own Instagram! @FoxBentley

Reply
Meghan Jacobs

You summed it up! We had one and sprung for the second when he was 6 months because we wanted him to have a buddy, and you've hit the nail on the head. It is so much more than loving and Instagramming. I would encourage anyone to think about how each dog has different personalities and while our cockapoo, Theo, can pick up a trick in 2 hours, our goldendoodle is still mastering "down" after 2 months! Theo was housebroken in 2 weeks, Simon, again, still isn't. It's so much work! Thanks for this post 🙂 It makes me feel less insane, haha

Reply
KHuang

Definitely get pet insurance while your dog is young enough to qualify. I ended up spending $7K out of pocket last fall on my 9 yer old dog. He suddenly had seizures and I took him to the Vet ER. He then had to see a neurologist to get an MRI. It all added up. He is doing fine now but his check-ups (with blood tests) are $300 each time. I know a few people who had to spend thousands on their pets' medical bills. Pet insurance would've reduced the bills greatly.

Reply
Carolyn

Thank you for writing this post! Too many people get dogs without seriously thinking about what it entails – leading to so many poor pups left abandoned in shelters. Pet ownership is amazing, but it's a life changing decision that has to be made with care! Love your blog 🙂

Reply
Ashley Bautista

You are preachin' to the choir! We have one cat (adopted from my parents when they could no longer care from him) and a five month old black lab/beagle which has earned his fair share of instagram following/likes…he is SO tiring. We are constantly chasing him, playing tug of war, thinking about "puppy proofing the apartment" and looking at real estate that has a yard. He is so cute and cuddly yet he's ruined pairs and pairs of our shoes, chewed through wires and cords for computers and almost ruined our hardwood floors. I feel your pain but I can only imagine that they'll be our best friends for life!

xx,
Ash
http://www.ashleyannplan.com

Reply
Maggie Keel

This is spot on. I will NEVER forget the night that our labradoodle, Remy, woke up in the middle of the night whining because he probably needed to go out and we waited too long thinking maybe he would go back to sleep when all of a sudden, Remy peed on my husband's pillow that was on the ground! Haha it's safe to say we haven't missed a "one more trip outside" before bed since.
xx, Maggie
http://www.shoptheremyroom.com

Reply
Maggie Keel

This is spot on. I will NEVER forget the night that our labradoodle, Remy, woke up in the middle of the night whining because he probably needed to go out and we waited too long thinking maybe he would go back to sleep when all of a sudden, Remy peed on my husband's pillow that was on the ground! Haha it's safe to say we haven't missed a "one more trip outside" before bed since.
xx, Maggie
http://www.shoptheremyroom.com

Reply
Mandy Lamothe

Wow, thank you for being so open and honest about the ups and downs of it all. We brought our pup home in November and she's gone through basic puppy training class, but she didn't learn anything about barking or jumping. Since you mentioned that in your post, are there any online tools you would suggest so that I could work with her at home? Any advice would be so appreciated!

Reply
madeleine

The best thing I ever did was set up a savings account for our dog. We started putting a 200 in a month a YEAR before we got our dog. It made the first year so much easier in terms of expenses (neutering, shots, eating a hornet ��). It also helped us to know that we did have enough money to keep a dog. 5 years later it still is a great emergency pet fund. We only recommend pet insurance to people now. It would have been great for our accident prone Weimaraner

Reply
Colby

So funny that you post this today. My little rescue terrier is in the doggie hospital right now with some sort of intestinal problem. While he is typically not that expensive to take care of, any emergency vet visits get quite expensive! Not only was I incredibly worried about his health for the last two days, his total bill for two days in the hospital, IV fluids, medications, x-rays, etc. is going to be about $1000. Establishing an emergency pet fund is essential (see madeleine's comment above) with these guys. I adopted my dog when I was working, but decided to go back to school full time so this bill especially hurts!

Also, just a plug for humane societies and pet rescues, I grew up with dogs from breeders and now I have this rescue. I don't think I will ever get another breeder puppy! Toby came to me still young (8 months) but house trained, and is the best behaved dog I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I swear that as a rescue pup he is extra grateful to have a home and only wants to please me. I hope that anyone looking to add a pet to their family at least considers adopting a homeless pet. Sometimes they aren't the prettiest, but they are absolutely amazing!

Reply
Caitlin M.

This pos tis so true! I feel like most people don't realize how expensive dogs are and how hard training can be! When I adopted my dog, it took about 2 months just for us to work well together. I feel like that's something no one talks about! You think, here's my new dog, we're going to be best friends! They don't take into account training, adjusting to a new home or any issues the dog had if he/she was rescued!

xx, Caitlin
http://www.wandererandwolf.com

Reply
Classically Lovely

Having a dog is not for the faint of heart. But I wouldn't trade it for the world! My boys are my everything and worth everything to me. We laugh, because our dogs really taught us what it was like to be parents to a real human baby! We credit them for being our "test subjects"… I don't k ow if our daughter appreciates that! Lol

Reply
Nicole Savery

I also just recently got my second dog, and so much of what you said really resonated with me! It's so true – two dogs are NOT just as easy as one! But once all of the training and hard work is done I know it will be worth it 🙂

Reply
Kate H

How did you handle having a dog in NYC? A friend of mine is considering moving there but is worried about having her dog with her. Her dog is a huge runner and needs to be able to go somewhere to get her energy out. Do you have tips/places to go for dog owners in the Big Apple?

Reply
carly

It's actually an extremely dog friendly city. You don't realize that until you have a dog but then a whole new world opens up!!!

Central Park allows dogs, off leash, before 9am. It is so much fun and there are dogs just everywhere…. And there are plenty of dog parks depending on where you live.

I think the best part is how convenient everything is. There are tons of vets and dog daycare places so you're always close to one.

My one piece of advice is that if you do get a puppy, take them on cab rides/car rides as often as possible. Teddy rarely was in a car and now he HATES driving. Which wasn't a problem when we lived in NYC, but when we moved to CT it became a more annoying issue.

Reply
Lisa Gabrielson

OMG I cracked up at your part about the into-the-sweatshirt barfing. Literally once a month in our house — I've shoved magazines, sweatshirts, plastic bags, anything I can get my hands on once the dog starts gagging to keep it off the wall-to-wall carpet.

Reply
Andrea V

Thank you for this post! I have a maltipoo (also named Teddy!) and currently live with a roommate with another small dog. They are the best of friends, but I am moving across country, and am worried about Teddy's transition. How did your Teddy react to Hamilton? Was he jealous or did he regress in any way? Any information you can share about his reaction to a new pup in the house would be so helpful!

Reply
Jackson Aloisio

Hey Carly, I was wondering what type of harness you have on Ham? We have a maltipoo and she is hard to fit for some of the other harnesses. Any recommendations?

Reply
College Prepster's Dogs Hamilton and Teddy

[…] I touched on a bit in this post back in April. Everyone told me having a second dog wouldn’t be any harder than having one, but they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s twice the work, twice the stress, and twice the exhaustion. It’s also twice the love. […]

Reply
Christianna

My husband and are looking to get a dog in the spring – did you get teddy and Hamilton at the same breeder? Did you like that breeder? Could you pass along their info!

Reply