Read This Before You Get A Dog

I know a handful of people who are considering adding a dog to their family right now. I also know that a lot of folks who stop by here regularly have dogs, so this probably won’t apply to you- but maybe it’s something you can share with friends or family who are talking about adding a fur babe to the mix. Christmas is coming and, without fail, people gift their kids/significant other puppies or kittens. Then January, February, & springtime is a super busy time for shelters & pounds. I’m simply asking anyone considering a dog to read this first.

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Having a dog is HARD.
Having a dog is expensive.
Having a dog is frustrating, messy, and time consuming.

I am the kind of person who will always have a dog. We took in Lylee before we were married, while I was still living at home with my parents. Prior to Ly, K and I both grew up with dogs. I’ve had three family dogs from birth to present day while K spent his childhood first snuggling Sandy, and then Melody. Adding a dog to our little fam was a no-brainer. Since we grew up with fur-siblings, we were well aware of the headache/handful/heartbreak a dog can be.

Not everyone has that experience, so I wanted to share the not-so-glamorous & disgusting side to dog ownership parenting. (Please know I would never reverse my decision to adopt dogs! They are the absolute best and I think everyone should know unconditional love expressed through sloppy kisses and nose-nudges…. I just want you to be prepared.)

Dogs are expensive.
We easily spend +$500 on vet bills for our two dogs. Additionally, we drop about $23 per month on food (the cheap kind!)- plus treats. Lylee also has vitamins and anti-anxiety drugs that cost about $20 to $30 a bottle. On top of that, there are toys, bedding, and equipment (crates, travel mats, bowls, leashes & harnesses) that need replaced every few months or years. I bet we spend $1,000 on our dogs annually.

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There are initial costs, too. To adopt or purchase the dog might be well over $300. Then you must get them spayed/neutered and up-to-date on all shots. And if they’re a puppy or if they’ve been in a shelter for a while you should sign them up for obedience classes.

It adds up.

Dogs tend to poop. And puke. And have plenty of accidents.
I can’t tell you how many puddles of pee I’ve soaked up. Or piles of poop I’ve scooped from the yard (and occasionally the carpet). And we were blessed with a puker, so I’m scrubbing Enzo’s crate at least once a month. And unlike my co-parent, I was programed with an iron stomach so I’m typically the one to clean up the messes.

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When we got home from vacation last week I was greeted by a lovely poop-streak in the living room. Apparently someone had a difficult time outside and came in to use the carpet like toilet paper. (I know it’s gross, but IT HAPPENS with dogs. And I’ve thoroughly cleaned the carpets, fyi.) Also, last week Lylee stepped in poop so I had the privilege of scrubbing her paw with soap and a bucket in the backyard. #blessed

Dogs make messes and get dirty.
Similar to my second point, dogs are living, breathing things that tend to lose hair and collect dirt. Depending on the dog, it might drip slobber or bring home burs. And even if you’ve shelled out the big bucks for flea and tick meds (…which you should), you might find a little nit on your precious bundle of fur. Even with medication, it’s important to check them after walks & outside play.

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Bath time is fun in our house. It happens less often than it should and it includes two dogs glaring at me and shivering while I man-handle them into the tub, then drench my own leg while scrubbing their bellies and telling them how good they’re being. Top that off with an unaccounted for full-body shake that leaves our bathroom smelling of wet swap poodle. Good times.

Dogs are time consuming and costly.
We are super lucky because right now our dogsitter lives across the street from us. When we’re gone for a weekend she pops over multiple times per day and when we leave for a week or more she stays with Ly & Enzo. (She’s getting married & moving out soon, though, so we’re going to lose her… *sigh*)

Anyway, what I’m getting at is dogs can’t be left alone for more than a few hours. Also, they tend to enjoy/need walks to stay sane and healthy. Also, they’re one of those rare creatures that actually like to have humans around, so it’s important to devote time to just being with your pup. It’s actually easier said than done- life is busy.

Dogs aren’t invincible.
The absolute worst part of having a dog is that they sometimes get sick. I mean that in a heartbreaking way, not in an inconvenient way. They will never reach an age where they can tell you what’s wrong. Blood tests and x-rays and surgeries are all costly but sometimes that’s the only way to figure out what’s wrong. K and I have already agreed that we would spend anything to keep our two healthy and safe. I know that’s different for everyone, but it’s an important thing to establish before you commit to a dog.

We’re not going to talk about it, but dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than their humans. I’ve said goodbye to so many dogs and it never gets easier, but you’ve got to commit to your dog- from beginning to end.

Ok… moving on…. my dogs are going to live forever. (That’s my mantra.)

All of that to say dogs are a huge commitment and very challenging. And if you’ve never been responsible for a dog, I just want you to know the nitty gritty of it all. But also, owning dogs is wonderful and amazing and rewarding and fun.

And they’re so freaking cute and smushy and perfect and fluffy and delicious ❀︎

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Keep in mind I’m not an expert; I just want to inform people on dog ownership. If you have a question I would be happy to answer it- and if I can’t, I’ll find you the answer! And in regards to Christmas- dogs make wonderful, amazing companions, but they’re not a good gift. The dog parents need to be a part of the planning/adoption processΒ  πŸ™‚

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25 thoughts on “Read This Before You Get A Dog

  1. Our family dog was one my step dad just turned up with one day. My mum had been saying no to a dog for years! Of course, she was then the one that ended up looking after him – feeding him, taking him for walks, taking him to the vet… and paying a small fortune for vet bills (he had a tumour in his ear when he came to us, which we didn’t know about so by the time we realised the problem and got it sorted he had to have a major operation instead of just a little one). My mum grew up with dogs and knew how much work they are (plus she’s actually slightly allergic to dogs, which is why she didn’t want one), my step dad is an idiot and just didn’t get it. The dog ended up having an amazing life with us and my mum was really upset when he died, but it’s still up there with one of the stupidest ideas my step dad ever had – what if my mum hadn’t known how to properly take care of a dog?!

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    1. Oh man… That’s so tough. I’m so glad your mom took the pup under her wing. We actually did this to my mom when we were younger. My brother and I came home with a dog and my mom said no… but when my dad got home from work he said yes. Lol. Fortunately we were old enough to care for the dog and my dad did a lot of the work, too, so Mom didn’t have to do much (and the dog won Mom over anyway, haha).

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  2. Such a good post. I dont think people REALLYYYY know what it is to have a dog if they’ve never had one before.
    It’s nothing for me to pick up poop or wipe our old man’s butt to clean him up – just like having a baby in the house πŸ™‚
    I’m with you on that mantra – they’re going to live forever!!! Wouldnt that be so nice.
    $1,000 annually? I wish… I have a budget tracker – its scary what we’ve spent already on our dogs for the year.. & still 2 months to go. #spoileddogs

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    1. I think a lot of people see puppies and imagine it’s easy-peasy to train ’em and care for them…. but dogs can be tough! You know!
      I am constantly wiping Lylee up. Curse those anal glands! Ahh!!
      If we have two vet visits in a year (which we almost always do), we top $1,000. I was just trying to be optimistic. Ha.

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  3. It’s SO true, Audrey! It’s one of those reasons why even though the husband and I want one, we don’t have one because not only the cost but the time commitment is insane and we don’t have the time to devote that much time. I’m just happy I get to occassionally have girl time with my furniece and it gives me my “dog fix”.

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    1. Yay for fur-nieces!! My brother & his wife are jonesing for a dog right now and I think they get their fix with our two. I think dogs are totally worth it….. but man oh man, “it” sure is a lot! Haha!

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  4. All true! I’ve always had dogs too – 3 growing up, my roommate in college had one, and then I got Hawkeye. My parents also have 2 new dogs (well, old dogs, they’re senior rescues, but you know what I mean) and John’s family has had 2 pugs over the years. We’ll always be dog people. But it’s work. I spend so much on Hawkeye, city living is very expensive with a dog. I spend $400-$500 on just her at the vet each year because she has to have all shots and a license to live in Chicago. I spend $80 each time I get her groomed, which is every 6 weeks. Her 5 lb bag of food is $25. That’s over $1000 right there and doesn’t include treats, tacos, toys, poop bags, cleaning supplies, etc etc. Home girl is EXPENSIVE. But so worth it πŸ™‚
    I used to volunteer at the shelter in Iowa during college, the return of the Christmas puppies is just the worst. NEVER gift a pet! It’s the most terrible idea, unless it’s to your dog loving wife and you discussed it at length first or already have dogs. My friend just got her first pet, a cat, and I’m so happy she (a) did it on her own and (b) bonded with it so fast, because she’s already had all the issues of messes, destroyed furniture, angry landlords, illness… and it’s been like 5 months! But she loves that little bugger. It’s not always easy for first time pet owners to overcome those things so you better be really ready.

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    1. I am so grateful that my parents raised me around dogs. I’ve been bit and growled at, but that foundation has made me such a dog lover. It makes me sad when I find out people are afraid of them or dislike them. I just want to introduce Enzo to all the nay-sayers because he’s such a gentle little angel πŸ™‚
      I get SO ANGRY when people return pets. So, so angry. It’s 100% unfair to the cat/dog and it immediately makes me lose all respect for that person/family. Then again, if that person is ok with abandoning an animal then they don’t deserve their love.

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  5. Ughhhh I hate when people gift pets on a whim!!! It is one thing if it was something that was planned out and talked about before hand but just gifting a pet for someone who may not be ready for the challenge is a huge no no! I am a dog person and will always be a dog person and have always had dogs growing up and now. They do cost lots of money, sort of tie you down in that you can’t just leave on a whim without making arrangements for them if you can’t bring them, they can destroy your stuff and they break your heart when they get older. But for me, it is all worth it because a dog’s love in unconditional and I always want that in my life but I don’t think it is for everyone.

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    1. I can’t picture our lives without dogs. We’ll always have them. When we have kids I want them to know the joys and responsibility of dog ownership, too πŸ™‚

      We got Enzo at the beginning of December one year and he was technically a Christmas gift to ourselves, but obviously we made the decision together and knew what we were getting into. Haha. (Well…. the remote destruction was a surprise… but we pretty much knew. Ha.)

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    1. I’m sure it’s a huge issue with cats! People assume cats just do their own thing and all you have to do is change a litter box. SO not true for most cats! It’s so heartbreaking to hear about a pet being returned to a shelter because the humans were ill-prepared.
      I bet cats have a higher risk of just getting dumped, too. UGH. My parents have three garage cats and one of them was a drop-off outside their house. I wish we’d have seen them do it because I’d have totally reported it (and kept the cat regardless because he is the sweetest little cuddle-bum)!

      Why, pets? Why?? Haha!

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  6. I can’t even imagine giving a dog back to a shelter. But I know it happens. And that’s why no one should EVER give someone a dog as a surprise gift. It’s something that has to be talked over and decided on with the heads of household. AND those people getting the dog need to prepare and be absolutely sure they can take care of a dog!

    A blogger the other day said her baby daughter is loving the “family dog” (her parents’ dog) and said, “She may ask us for a dog one day. I’m not a pet person so I’ll have to think about it” and I was floored! I have no idea how you can not be a pet person (especially a dog person) unless you were viciously attacked by one, but especially if you grew up with a dog! (Obviously, not hating on her or on anyone who feels this way. And glad for the people who DO feel this way that don’t get pressured into getting a dog. Just always surprises me, you know?)

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    1. I’ve been bit on the face by a dog and I still love them all. I don’t hesitate with “tough-looking” breeds. (Obviously I ask the owner, but you know what I mean… ha.) I don’t understand the “not a pet person” thing either, but it probably depends on how you were raised, I guess.

      When I was growing up we had an outside dog that was let loose when we were outside or playing (he stayed in the yard). I actually converted my parents to inside-dog-people when I brought Ly home. I honestly think they’re BIGGER animals lovers now than they were when I was growing up. I’ve brought home SO many stray pets to them over the years and they’ve either kept them or helped me re-home them. Haha

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  7. Yes! I agree with this so much! It’s crazy to me people don’t think about all it takes to have a dog. All they see is a cute puppy. I know someone like that right now, and I’m pretty sure the dog will go to the shelter after it turns 1. 😦

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    1. You’re allergic?? Ahh! There are hypoallergenic breeds out there, though… Just fyi πŸ˜‰ I would never ever discourage someone from getting a dog- I just want to be honest about the tough stuff. This stuff sucks sometimes, but they’re not 24/7 occurrences. And dogs really, truly are worth it. You’d fall in love immediately- guarantee it!

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  8. My thoughts on dogs as a holiday “gift” is the same as an engagement ring as a “gift.” It’s not. It’s a life choice that ideally you’ve made together and put some serious thought into and isn’t a surprise for anyone involved. Pets are too important to return because someone made a mistake or you changed your mind later and the word “gift” doesn’t set the right tone for adopting what should be your newest family member. /sermon

    I had to unfollow the humane society on Facebook because they kept posting adorable pictures of puppies and A) We are happy with 2 and B) Right before having a baby is not the time to adopt a new pet. We’ve just gotten Toast adjusted to us, so we don’t need to mix it up and make things harder right now. We will absolutely not be those people that adopt a pet and then say, “Nevermind. We just couldn’t keep up after we had kids.”

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    1. I can agree with that. My engagement was a surprise, but we’d talked about marriage and I knew that K was the person I wanted to spend forever with. So the moment was a surprise, but knowing that our relationship was headed toward marriage was not πŸ™‚

      But I digress. Haha. Man, I swear I log on EVERY DAY and see FB posts about dogs or puppies that need fostered or dogs from the local humane society or pound immediately needing a home. Sometimes I share them on K’s wall- which drives him crazy. Haha. He says we’re a two dogs family. That said, if I introduced him to a homeless puppy and it jived with our babes I know he’d fall victim to its charm πŸ˜‰

      Our house isn’t big enough for a third dog, though. I’ll wait until we move to the country to sweet-talk/schmooze him into another fur babe. Hahaha.

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