Spending the better part of a year pet-sitting reminded Sporty and I just how much of a commitment sharing your life with an animal actually is.
There are plenty of benefits, obviously. Dogs have a knack for making you feel like you’re the most amazing person in the world every single day.
Even cats, with their nonchalant couldn’t care less attitudes, have a way of lifting your spirits simply by plopping down on your lap and purring.
Animals may not be able to speak up when they’re unhappy, but they experience the same emotions we do. They form the same bonds, they have distinct personalities, they have likes and dislikes. Just like their human companions.
Yet, so many people tend to view the animal they’ve brought into their home as something they own, rather than an additional member of the family.
This is probably why people think it’s acceptable to give pets as gifts. It’s not.
I think this distinction occurs when the time commitment is too great. If your life is already super busy, adding an animal to the mix isn’t a good idea.
Knowing they’ll be there waiting for you after a tough day at the office is great, but it also means feeding them, taking them for a walk and picking up poop.
It doesn’t matter how exhausted you are, Netflix and that family-sized bag of Oreos will have to wait.
There were plenty of times Sporty and I wanted to sleep in, but knowing our three charges were outside waiting for their morning walk got us up every time.
It was hard, but we knew we were only doing it for a set amount of time. When it’s your dog, there’s no out. You’re in it for the long haul, poop ‘n all. If you’re thinking about adopting a furry friend, take the time to think through the details.
Start by Doing Your Due Diligence
Whether you’ve shared your home with a dog before or not, it pays to properly inform yourself beforehand. It’s easy to get all swept up in the moment and want to immediately adopt the pooch you’ve just met.
Unfortunately, more often than not, when you get a dog without considering all the pros and cons, it could very well end up back at the shelter. Not cool. They deserve more than that.
Quizz the shelter you’re planning on adopting from to find out as much as possible about your potential new friend. Find out their age, their demeanour and perhaps most pertinent, their background. If you’re taking on a troubled hound, you need to know about it.
Do some online research to find out what sort of care it needs, as well. Animal blogs like https://www.dogsbynina.com/ are great for gathering information about things like food, grooming and so on. Just don’t fall into the trap of buying too much stuff.
Your dog needs a place to sleep, bowls to eat and drink out of and some toys to play with. Things like muzzles (what!?), pet strollers (seriously!?) and crates (double seriously!?) should remain on the shelf.
I’d much rather they ended up on a bonfire somewhere, but failing that, just don’t buy them.
Can You Afford to Get a Pet?
The cost of owning a pet can be eye-watering. Along with being fed and watered, they’ll need regular trips to the vet for vaccinations, they’ll need to be sterilized, they’ll need a microchip and there’s a chance they’ll need to go for training.
If they get sick or hurt, they’ll need medical attention. Depending on their coat, they might need the occasional visit to the parlour. In short, it can work out to be a pretty costly process. You need to know you can afford all of those things.
Do You Have Enough Time for a Pet?
Having enough money is one thing, but do you have enough time for a pet? If you’re always working late or out drinking wine with your friends, your pooch is going to home alone. Also not cool.
If you’re going to get a dog you need to treat it like you would any of the human members of your family. I don’t mean be one of those weird people who plays dress-up with their animals.
Just be mindful. Let your friend feel loved, cared for and respected. Let them feel like they matter, that their wellbeing is important to you.
So many of the dogs we encountered while on our travels were left alone in a barren yard. They didn’t have company, some didn’t even have a place to sleep. Others were chained.
I’m not talking about the ones we looked after, they were spoilt rotten. In a good way.
It’s different in small towns, people have a different outlook there. But when it comes to animals and how we treat them, it shouldn’t be like that. They give us so much, the least we can do is treat them kindly.