August 8, 2013

To Dog or Not To Dog? (Not What You’re Thinking.)

I grew up surrounded by dogs.

Ducky was my border collie who had one blue eye and one brown. She got her name because when we picked her up from the farm to take her home she couldn’t bark. She just kept making these quacking noises. Then there was my collie Lassie. I was obviously a very clever 2nd grader. Ducky and Lassie were in fact lesbians. Ducky enjoyed humping Lassie on a daily basis and because they were near and dear to my heart they taught me acceptance and love from a very early age.

It’s been 10 years since I’ve moved away from my dog-filled home and never since have I lived in a place that allowed pets. So, not having one has been an easy decision. Until now. I recently moved and it’s finally possible, but I’m wondering: am I cut out for it?

I have this terrible habit of looking at all the cute homeless dogs on petfinder.com. I download “perfect breed” apps on my phone just to peruse what’s out there. I linger too long, perhaps, while walking past the dog park, curious to know what that kind of life, dog companionship, is like.

And then reality hits.

Here are three reasons why certain people (mainly me) shouldn’t get a dog.

1. I Am Broke as a Joke.

According to Mybanktracker.com, first year dog ownership costs between $650 to $2,500 and then annually drops only a couple hundred dollars. Now, I’m what they call a “cheapskate.” I

would adopt. I would find whatever I could used (kennel, crate, everything else). I would use YouTube to learn both how to train and groom the dog. But that still doesn’t account for food, vet bills, medicine, cleaning supplies and dog walking when I’m not home.

I’ve not even considered what else I may have forgotten or what might come up unexpectedly.

It’s a big investment for someone like me who has very little income.

2. Never Enough Hours.

Here’s a conundrum: I’m barely employed so I have plenty of time right now to spend playing and walking and training a dog. But, again, there’s the money issue. Once I get a regularly scheduled, regularly paying job I will have hardly any time to spend with said dog. Then I will feel like an asshole for never being around.

Also, I’m single (-ish) and I like to go out and mingle (-ish). Sometimes I might go out for happy hour and not return until bar close or, if I’m lucky, the next morning. I know many people are probably thinking, “just don’t do that you careless brat.” But the thing is, I want to do that. I don’t want to stop because I like it.

Do I like it more than I like dogs? I don’t know, but once I go dog, I can’t go un-dog.

3. Sometimes I Suck at Life.

Speaking of un-dogging, pet ownership is a huge responsibility. It’s not something one can just stop because she gets tired of it one day. How many mornings will I wake up and not want take out my furry friend and pick up her poop?

What if she gets sick? What if she gets fleas? What if she eats all of my shoes? What if she gets pissed at some other dog and bites its head off? What if she has this weird habit of humping my friends’ legs and I have to call the Dog Whisperer in to fix it? That’s a lot of work I may not be ready for.

Under it all, though, is the personal fear, “What if the dog doesn’t actually like me?”

Finally, the truth is I want to be smart about it.

I don’t want to bring another life into my home and discover I’m actually terrible at taking care of it. I’m nervous because it’s been so long since I’ve lived with an animal and there are certain things I don’t want to get in the habit of doing the way my parents did: letting the dog sleep in my bed, feeding it junk off the table.

So I’m very much talking myself out of it, even though the benefits of doggie companionship are great. Dog owners live longer, have lower blood pressure, seem to enjoy life a lot more, and have what many human to human relationships seem to need more of: unconditional love. Plus, dogs are just so freaking cute!

I think for now the best thing for me to do is to start borrowing my friends’ dogs. I’ll dog-sit until I know I can do it for real.


Like animals are people too on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise

{photos: Aivaras Čiurlionis}

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