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

Via on Aug 8, 2013

dog on hay bale

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}

About Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugher lives in Denver. She earned her MA in Writing and Publishing and her MA in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University/Chicago. She is the creator of Mile High Mating, a website dedicated to helping people "do it" in Denver and beyond. You can find her on facebook and twitter (as long as you aren’t a stalker).

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5 Responses to “To Dog or Not To Dog? (Not What You’re Thinking.)”

  1. seedifly says:

    Awesome – this one hits home. Until two months ago – I was you. Minus a few details. Scared shitless of the responsibility. But – I figure, I am 36 years old and some maternal (not baby maternal) something was calling out. So – we got Aero – a chocolate border collie and I fell hopelessly in love with her. Yup – she got fleas (I live in Mexico City … she could get worse), spent a night in the hospital with wretched vomiting, and I too – am broke. Like had 75 cents in my wallet this summer broke. But – like always – money comes when you really need it. I still worry that I am not going to be a great mom – but to hell if I am not going to at least try to teach this little stinker to skateboard. :) Great post.

  2. Kai says:

    Ahhh this is a great post and an honest one whether or not the dogged or un-dogged want to admit it. We jumped into dog parenthood two years ago and rescued a dog who ended up not being a good fit for our family. We found him a home that is s much better fit, but then we were at a crossroad-do we dog again? Initially I said, "heck no!" Freedom was ours! We could travel freely again! (as freely as you can travel with 4 kids) and we were still paying for the dog's fractured leg from a run in with a school bus (and he was living with someone else) so the financial aspect was still a painful reminder with each monthly bill we still received. BUT, our kids still wanted a dog. So what did we do? We dogged again. Now we have a dog who is a better fit with our family personality wise, but he sheds like a beast. He's a bit of a bull in a china shop, and there are days when I think, "WHY did we dog again?" But I could probably say some of the same things about my children and I wouldn't change having them, so I think the joy they bring will always (well mostly always-thinking back to our first dog Teddy P. where it didn't) outweigh the annoying and challenging times. I know this guy helps us not take things so seriously. (Can't help but laugh at a dog who sleeps on his back with all for legs in the air.) Start slowly though. Really look at a dog's personality and temperament, not their physical look. Our first dog was terribly cute, but had bad energy (no seriously) he didn't work with our family no matter how hard we tried.

  3. Sgibson389 says:

    Maybe you can dogsit for folks and make some money too

  4. 411guy says:

    I like Sgibson389's suggestion. Interestingly enough, when it comes to the financial aspect of dog ownership I came across the following Cost of Owning a Pomsky. The site is focused on a designer dog called a Pomsky … but the information and link to a study in the post is about dog ownership in general. It argues that over a 14 year lifespan, owning a dog can cost you more than $12,000! I was shocked to read that.

    That site linked to another site about flea medication reviews and I had no idea that flea medicine can cost $10-20 a month! Are you kidding me! PetSmart charges $100 for a 6 month supply of Frontline.

    I am in and will remain living in my apartment which has a no pet policy. But…man…even if I had my own home I am not sure about the expense either.

  5. Stephy says:

    Wow. You are one of the few people that actually put some thought into getting a dog. Most people just go out and do it that is why some dogs suffer because the owner is not as thoughtful as you are. I know a friend that adopted a dog in a shelter. I ask him why because he did not have time to take care of him. He said the shelter feels like a prison for the dog. After 2 years later he neglected the dog and he admit that he made a mistake bring home the dog, it was just like putting him in another prison. Basically he was moving the dog from one prison to the next.

    I think if you can improve the 3 reason you gave, then you should consider getting a dog. I am in the same situation. I want a dog but currently do not have enough time to take care of him. When I can improve my situation I will definitely get a Pomsky.

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