Anyone else a hard truth about dog ownership to share?
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.