Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Monday, February 05, 2007

How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

I want a dog. A pooch. A pooper. I have dreamed about owning a dog for years but I go back and forth and while every bone in my body aches for a canine buddy practicalities hold me back. Also The Great Unknown is daunting as I have never had a dog in my whole life. I really don’t know what to expect. I haven’t been exposed to a whole bunch of dogs so they are a bit of a mystery to me. However, I have never met a dog I didn’t like and I fuss over them like grannies do their scrumptious grandbabies.

When faced with a big decision I always write out a Pros and Cons list:


-Am home a lot for the next few months and when I start up my business I can take a dog to work if it is well socialized around people and other dogs.
-I live in a VERY dog friendly building.
-There is a small park nearby and a sea wall to walk along too.
-Watched the entire first season of The Dog Whisperer in one sitting.
-I have a friend who could dog-sit for me if I go out of town or even need a day to myself.
-My parents would love to walk the dog too.


-Since I am not working I really cannot afford any kind of new pet.
-Yoshi, my cat, might kill the dog. She is very unsocial.
-Very unsure about the whole housebreaking thing. I have light beige carpets too.
-I’ve never had a dog before. I might totally screw it up. Doggie therapy is expensive.
-Not thrilled about dog smell issues as well as cleanliness.
-Very squeamish about poop.
-Deep fear my lap will not be big enough for a very possessive cat and a new dog.
-I cannot afford to replace the couch if the dog eats it.
-I cannot afford to replace my boots and shoes if the dog eats them.
-Since I live in an apartment building a late night/early morn pee run means getting all dressed and going down an elevator and out to the grass. No letting the dog out in the yard wearing my Pjs.
-I am worried about who would take care of the dog if my cancer came back since I don’t have a boyfriend/husband to take over the responsibility.

I have thought that I should have a small dog for space reasons as well as poop reasons. Small dog + small poop = less gagging. I am also very open to older dogs as well as dogs with health problems like deafness or blindness but have decided that I cannot afford to provide long term vet services for a chronically ill dog.

So talk me into it or warn me off. Any thoughts? What do you think?


happy and blue 2 said...

I like dogs. Everyone should have one. They always make you feel wanted.

If you are concerned about getting one why not volunteer at an animal shelter. You could walk them and feed them and such.

Or just get your own. You can fling the poop at your neighbors or swoosh it over a balcony if you have one..

Sharkey said...

Rescue is a great option. You can get a dog that has lived with a foster family, so you have an idea of its personality before you commit. And if you get one that's older, it likely won't have the chewing issues--and may already be trained.

In the rescue that I work with, the adoption contracts specify that you have to return the dog to the rescue if it doesn't work out for any reason. We have one dog that came in because its elderly owner passed away. It got adopted by another elderly person, and came back when he went into a nursing home. And now I think it's been adopted by a third person. It's worked out well because the dog's temperament is well-suited for a retiree's lifestyle, and older people are often looking for the companionship without going through the puppy stage.

Even though you're going to be around for a LONG TIME, it's good to know that the rescue will usually work to re-home a pet that they've had before if becomes necessary.

And making contacts at a rescue could be good for your future business.

What--you didn't actually expect me to try and talk you out of it, did you?

Ern said...

I think your biggest question seems to be Yoshi. Making sure that she gets along with the new addition is key. Any reputable adoption place will let you let them get to know each other and see how it might work.

Also, if you adopt a non-puppy, there's a good chance it will be housetrained already.

Also. Folex. Word.

And, as my neighbors can attest, fuzzy slippers and a flannel robe are modest if not cute.

It's good you are putting so much thought into it. Adding a pooch is not a small decision. Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will work out well. :)

My word verification? luvov

Justin said...

Every aspect has a flip n a flop side... U have to weigh what u r actually comfortable with.

elizabeth said...

i'm also not going to try to talk you out of it. i have 2 dogs, also in an apartment. the elevator thing becomes total routine, you won't even be aware of it after a while. my doormen have seen me in my pajamas, though.

the poop, gross as it is, you get used to it. smaller would be better, for sure.

financial: pet insurance is so worth it. covers everything from spay/neuter to scarier stuff like accidents.

puppy/adoption: i admire your desire to adopt, but often it's hard to find a smaller breed without behavioral issues at a pound, since most dogs are abandoned because the owners weren't willing/able to train them to begin with. just something to keep in mind. a non-puppy could still need lots of work and training. this is not meant to deter you. they are worth every second of effort, and the fact that you've watched the dog whisperer so intently (that guy is a genius) and the way that yoshi is so wonderful is proof enough you'd be able to handle it with no problem.

crate training is your friend (and your couch's friend...and your carpet' get the idea)

the fact that you have friends and family willing to help out is a huge bonus. any doggy would be lucky to have you.

yay doggies! (besides, i could look forward to crush your dog's head thursday or something)

ladybug said...

i like your pros and cons list, it is a good and honest one. i cant tell you to get or not-get a dog, but you do have some seriously BIG concerns re: yoshi's compatability, the dogs potential for messing things up (eating couch or shoes) etc.

i would suggest you look online - there are a lot of dog-owner personality inventories, that show what you are looking for in and dog, and match you to a certain breed (based on age, size, grooming needs of the dog, etc) and you can learn about the breeds that way.

also, if you do decided to get a dog, go to a purebred rescue - they have them for virtually EVERY breed known to man. go visit them, their adoption events, meet dogs, talk to the volunteers, spend time with the kind of dog you want, even if they arent The Dog that will come home with you. be totally honest with the rescue/adoption coordinator people with what you want/need in a dog, and let them help find the best match for you!!! also - DO NOT get a dog from a rescue that will let you take the dog home the first day you see it. any respectable rescue will make you fill out an application about past/current pet ownership, and will do a home visit, and will want to spend some time with you. they want forever homes for these dogs, and getting them out the door fast is a guarantee of a way to have improperly screened owners returning the dog back to the rescue and making the rescue have to re-home the dog. its not fair to the rescue but even more unfair to the dog that just wants a home... i have found that rescue who take their time in placement have the best reputations and arent out to just collect the adoption fee and swish as many dogs thru their doors as possible. also, make sure the rescue is one that utilizes foster homes for the dogs. this is the absolute best way to screen for behavioral issues, and in such an intimate setting, sometimes completely correct them. when you visit the rescue and find a dog, talk A LOT with the foster person. you will learn invaluable info about your future dog!

i used to volunteer for a rescue and it was truly some of the best times of my life with similar-minded people who loved German Shepherds like i did.

OH. about your concerns regarding getting sick again. most rescues have a contract you sign that if you arent able to care for the dog, you return it To Them, and they will re-place the dog. express your concerns. we rescued a dog from a lady who was elderly and dying, and it was all set up, so she keep her dog with her as long as she could, but her sons didnt want the dog. so we took it back. there was no judgemental-ness or animousity over her need to find a place, and we were impressed to chose us to find her dog a place when the time came.....

good luck. as a friend of mine says: dog love is good love!

Squirl said...

Wow, everyone has really good advice. I'm lazy now as I haven't had a pet in many years. But you're already used to having Yoshi. Then again, what will Yoshi think?

Like everyone else says, the choice is yours. Good luck!

lawyerchik said...

Ditto to the above, but also, I have a dog and could not imagine my life without one! I should know how old Yoshi is, but I don't - cats can adapt, but it may be difficult. I would totally have a cat, too, except my dad is allergic and I wouldn't be able to take the cat and the dog to visit their Nana and Pawpaw for holidays.

I would also suggest a smaller dog, since you can potty train them to go in a doggie litter box. Yes, that is additional expense, but if you can train the dog early to use the litter box, it will totally save you on any day when the weather sucks.

Ditto to the checking out what type of dog would be best for you by doing research. I used a book called "The Right Dog for You" by Daniel Tortora. Some dogs start out squirrelly and energetic and get more mellow as they get older; others start out mellow and get more rambunctious.

Rescue is wonderful if you can commit the time, but be aware that as much as your heart breaks to do something for an animal with "issues", those issues may not go away. When I was looking for another cocker, I found two or three rescue dogs that were not at all socialized. I did not have the time to commit to maintaining the consistency and routine those dogs needed, so I ended up buying a puppy from a breeder who was trying to place a slightly older puppy (he was 5 months old when I got him).

Of the rescue dogs I met, one could not look me in the face; she spent the whole time I was there with her nose buried in the couch - the poor thing was 6 years old and needed more attention than I could give her.

It's up to you - whatever you decide, you'll have to live with it, and you need to make your own decision about adding a dog to your family. It sounds like if you do decide to get a dog, that dog will be spoiled rotten anyway, so good luck!! :)

Susie said...

Dogs are wonderful. I have met a few cats that I really liked, but I am a dog person. I would recommend adopting a little bit older dog, with good references, who is already housebroken. But even if you get a puppy, with focused attention, the housebreaking doesn't have to be so bad.
My best dogs, including the VBD I have now, were adopted (found, Biscuit was) at just over a year old. And housebroken.

I came over to say you are in my heart and my prayers today. I hope it's a wonderful day.

eclectic said...

There is a reason that "dog" is the only creature that is "god" spelled backward -- they're crazy, goofy, occasionally messy, annoying, bundles of energy and love. You've got more advice here than I could have thought up, so I'll just add my vote is for the dog. Think of the crushings!!!

whfropera said...

I'm with Elizabeth almost word-for-word on this one.
New Yorkers keep dogs in apartments all the time - dogs LIKE routine, so they get used to it if you train them.

Yes, its work, I grew up with dogs, but only have Linus the cat now because I can't have a dog in the apartment.

My parents got a purebred puppy when their EXTREMELY antisocial cat was 7 years old. They became buds after about three years.

LadyBug said...

Combining to of your 'cons':

-Cannot afford dog therapy after Yoshi attempts to eat the dog.

LadyBug said...

ACK! TWO! I mean TWO, not to. Oh, good GRIEF, why didn't I preview

kalki said...

Hee, LadyBug's combination makes me laugh.

Every now and then I decide I want a dog. But when I'm around them, I find myself annoyed with the slobbering and the jumping and all. Clearly this is not the case with you, as you definitely like dogs. The other thing that stops me is that dogs are so much more high-maintenance than cats. Rob and I have always said that if we really wanted a dog, we'd have a kid. But they are also, I think, more rewarding pets than cats. So, I have no answer for you.

Madame D said...

One option that is good for apartment life is a rescued greyhound. They like the small spaces, and are more like a cat than a dog. I like pets that are lazy and like my lap, regardless of species. It's a big decision though, and wish you the best of luck in making it!

Oo-one thing to remember is that if you do get a puppy, Yoshi may end up training it. I have a friend whose dog totally took over the kitten they brought home, and he still thinks he's a dog.

shannon said...

Oops, greyhounds and cats maybe not the best mix! Greys are sight hounds and very prey driven. Kranki, everyone is giving you great advice on rescuing an adult dog, already housebroken and settled in temperment. Consider looking for a dog already in a foster home where they have cats. Luck!

WILLIAM said...

I have a dog. I am kind of a dog person. Read the cons over and over again. Dogs are a huge pain in the ass, for years to come.

alan said...

I won't try to talk you out of it either, but agree with so many that visiting a rescue operation of some sort is the way to go. Mutt or purebred, their personalities are known, they've had their shots and health issues found and dealt with, and here they list cats and dogs by whether they are friendly with each other of not as well!

Our biggest fear in taking in Frankie when our daughter-in-law asked was our 10 year old mutt Angel; she has chased every cat that ever entered our back yard off, though she stops at the edge of our yard.

Our worries were baseless, they play together like sister and brother and you can tell each would miss the other if something happened.

I would agree on a smaller dog for apartment living, something 40 pounds or less...

Angel is almost 11 now and will go 10 or 12 hours without going outside, though if you let her she will go out more often.


Twisteduterus said...

I love me some dogs!

I would say wait until you are financially stable.

Stuff happens, the eat something they are not supposed to, their leg breaks...just dumb stuff.

As a vet it always pains me to see people own more animals than they can afford.

i do not mean to offend...I am pretty sure any dog that made its way to your home would have won the doggie lottery!

Iris said...

I'm coming in late in the game but let me say this...

dogs poop. They poop on the floor, even if they are house trained. It is inevitable. Then, when they are sick...they diarrhea on the floor; which is probably the most repulsive thing that a human being will ever have to clean up. It is the worst...

Cats poop in a box.

You do the math.