I don’t think there’s anything quite as trendy during quarantine as getting a puppy. It’s up there with baking banana bread and tie-dying every white article of clothing in sight. As fate would have it, we brought a BRAND NEW puppy home at the end of January. A month and a half later, we were in lockdown.
Today, we’re still very much in puppy world, but a lot more the wiser. Here are the top things I would consider if you’re on the fence.
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#1 – “Adopt don’t shop” is a great motto, until it isn’t.
I’m addressing this one first because it’s a hot button issue. My husband and I always thought we would adopt, but when we went down that road, we hit some unexpected bumps. We were approved at a highly recommended shelter, and days later it was shut down for misrepresenting age, breed and health of the animals. With a breeder, you know exactly what you’re getting, and the American Kennel Club makes it easy to find a reputable one. Based on our specific situation, this was the better choice for us.
#2 – Are you actually a cat person?
People tend to have strong opinions about cats. Usually people who don’t like cats never had a cat themselves, but their friend’s cat either hissed or scratched or ignored them. That’s because you have to EARN a cat’s affection. But you know what else cats do? They go to the bathroom in their litter box after you show them ONCE where to go. They don’t bark in the middle of the night, roll around in the mud when you’ve just mopped the floor or eat your toilet paper when there’s a shortage. Generally, cats are calm and dignified where dogs are hyper and shameless. Most importantly, you can leave a cat home alone. A puppy, not so much.
#3 – Brace for financial impact.
I’m not going to address costs like supplies, vet visits and whatever the shelter or breeder charges. Those are the obvious things. What we hadn’t factored in were some MAJOR expenses for practicalities. Do we want our dog to slip down the stairs? No, so we had to install a runner. Do we want our dog to roam free in the backyard? Yes, so we had to install a fence. It’s worth playing out what having a dog is like in real life, which is one reason I highly recommend dog sitting first. For those of you going the puppy route, there’s also the cost to fix or replace whatever he chews on while working through those puppy teeth.
#4 – Dogs are fantastic for your health.
I’m sure you’ve all heard about how dog owners are more physically active and tend to live longer because of the companionship. It goes deeper than this though, both physically and mentally.
Everyone is sanitizing everything to the high heavens, and at the risk of being controversial, this may be detrimental to our wellbeing. We need germs and bacteria for the sake of our gut health and immune systems. The grandparents who joke kids should play in the dirt are right, but grown-ups should too. Do you know who brings dirt into your house? DOGS.
On the emotional side of things, dogs sense our energy and have the power to help us heal. One day during lockdown I was sitting outside when I heard my neighbor’s grandchildren. Their parents live around the corner and often drop them off. I felt so sad for my own children who haven’t seen their grandparents in months, and I began to cry. Our puppy jumped up next to me and licked away my tears, comforting me beyond words. I am ending with this story because although I’ve been candid with my cautionary tales, there’s an incredible benefit to dogs that makes it all worthwhile.
The Canine Conclusion
I encourage you to do your research and – it bears repeating – dog sit first if possible. For my family, who has only ever known the cat life, there was a huge learning curve no amount of books or discussions with dog-owning friends prepared us for. But without a doubt, it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, even if he is a destroyer of toilet paper.
Have you been thinking about getting a dog? If you already have a dog, chime in below with any advice you may have!