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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Care and Feeding of the Puppy Prince

Dogs are cute … and a stack of fun! But, dogs are also a lot of work.

I decided to get Jake (a rescue) about six months after I lost Marty. He and I had been together for over 12 years. During my grieving, I realized that I am a dog person. I really like having canine companionship. I knew I would end up with another dog. I had grown up with dogs but I spent most of my 20’s dogless. This time, I knew I wouldn’t be without a dog for long.

It was an easy decision to get Jake and keep doing what I had grown accustomed to doing (getting vet coverage, paying for flea and heartworm treatments, grooming, daily walks, finding a sitter when I would be out late or out of town….)

Prince Jake!
It wasn’t so easy when I decided to get Marty. Getting a dog after going so long without one, I knew would be challenging. My lifestyle would have to change. No more getting up and rushing out the door for work in 15 minutes flat. He would require my time, my money, and my care (he can’t feed and groom himself). I would do all of that in exchange for his love, his loyalty and a belly full of laughs.

When I got Marty he was 2 years old, trained and housebroken. A family was moving to another state and decided not to take him with them. I got him just before the shelter did. Together we traipsed across the country and back. I had to find dog-friendly hotels along the way. In addition to packing my stuff, I made sure I had water and food for him during our long drives.

You see, a canine (or feline) is work. It is fun work. It is rewarding work but make no doubt about it, it is work! I have a neighbor who got a dog because his 3-year old wanted one. This Chihuahua (not a dog bred for the outdoors) is outside, barking incessantly 24-hours a day. If the temperature dips below freezing, they put her in the garage.

A decision to get a dog, like any other change in your lifestyle, shouldn’t be made lightly or on a whim. It takes thought and planning. By the time Marty (and Jake) walked through my door, they had health care, quality food (in cute bowls), a tag with their name on the front and my contact information on the back (also cute). I knew how dog expenses would fit into my budget. I knew how my morning and evening routines would change. I had someone on standby to take care of him if something came up.

These dogs had found their forever homes and there was no turning back. I held Marty when he was scared of thunderstorms. I cared for him when he was diagnosed with Cushings and needed expensive medicine and to be quarantined in the kitchen because he would have accidents. A few months ago, Jake was diagnosed with epilepsy. I cared for him when he’d had seizures and now I give him his medicines twice a day.

I would never compare pet ownership to marriage or childrearing. But I will say when it comes to any life-altering decision, it is essential to take the time and make the effort to think it through. You choose a restaurant on a whim, not a pet, partner or the decision to be a parent.

As for me and my current Puppy Prince, I am looking forward to years of laughter and love with Jake.

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