“When did you become the crazy dog lady?” My sister, Torey, asked another day out of nowhere. Sure it was right after I put another picture of my dogs on Facebook, among thousands on my phone that I have been known to push complete strangers, but it’s what any dog lover does, correct?

Up until a few years back, I was the least likely person to become a mad dog lady. With a couple exceptions, I experienced dogs as panting messes of fur, drool and naughty behaviour. But I gave birth to my son, Christopher, an animal lover with a fire for dogs in particular. The moment he was ambulatory, he had been hitting odd dogs where he could: parks, garage sales, the sidewalk in front of the house (dog owners in a hurry discovered to prevent our street), anywhere really. When he wasn’t quite two years old, we stopped at a sale at which the homeowner’s friendly puppy was lounging in the driveway. I remember it was a smaller strain, because Christopher had to bend over to pet, pet, pet it, the calm and gentle manner he had been taught. The owner, an older woman, asked if we had a dog of our own, and that I told her we didn’t.

She fixed me with a gimlet eye and bore a hole into my soul. “You have obtained to acquire this kid a puppy,” she explained. She did not come right out and accuse me of neglect, but it was implied. Her intensity made me nervous, but I knew she had been correct; something deep inside of Christopher lit up and arrived alive only when he had been with a puppy.

The thing is, we were in the middle of a mass of testing and diagnoses for him personally, and that I had been extra busy having a difficult pregnancy with his sister. I ran the numbers: toddler with special requirements + newborn + puppy/dog = insanity. The sensible thing was to wait, which we did … for another nine years. Meanwhile I did my research.

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Anyone whose puppy I admired, or at least tolerated, said the same thing: “In the beginning, it’s a lot like having another kid.” I had two and 3 kids of my own, so I understood that was code for “crapload of work,” and this wasn’t encouraging. But there was my boy with a multiplicity of particular requirements and a fire for dogs.

So, I did what I always do in times of uncertainty and assaulted stack after stack of books, from behavioral and training guides to personal essays and memoirs, anything that I could get my hands on about life with a puppy. In my reading I came across something that the author Jon Katz said in a few of his books: at the end of the day, a dog is an animal and also a fantastic puppy, a well-trained puppy, will do stupid and disgusting things. He also gave the example of his Lab, who loved to roam in the woods, find vile things to eat and be ill within the home. The majority of people don’t need a real animal, Katz asserts; they need a Disney puppy.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself

I had not realized a Disney puppy was just what I needed, and up until that instant, I’d thought if I worked hard enough, I could transform an animal into a cartoon fantasy. Facing reality was simultaneously a relief and somewhat disheartening, but in retrospect it had been really helpful.

If you are considering getting a dog, then answer these questions to start the procedure.

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1. Have you got space in your budget? “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This economist’s adage extends to canines: There’s no such thing as a free puppy. Trust me.

This may seem cold, but it’s rather caring to evaluate whether you’ve got the expendable income which puppy ownership requires. The expense of food, regular vet bills and fundamental gear adds up fast, and that does not even take into consideration medical emergencies, fences, training, potential boarding and dental care.

Dental care? Yes, and it’s rather pricey, since sedation is involved. I don’t even need to inform you about anal glands, but you should know that they exist and, depending on the dog, need regular care.

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2. Are you prepared to make time? Dogs need exercise and care. Contemplate your schedule and present commitments to help determine whether you’re able to satisfy your dog’s basic requirements. Research different strains. Our English Lab, Jack, needs a great deal more exercise than our little pug, Oliver, does, but in a pinch we could leave Jack home alone all day and he’d be OK, and our house would be, too. Ollie? Not so much.

3. Do you’ve got the space? Are you going to have to create space for a kennel? Where will the dog sleep? Are you going to allow your dog on the furniture? Many dogs want to be appropriate by their people, which means they could be constantly underfoot. We taught our dogs to stay out of the work zone in the kitchen and keep off the furniture unless encouraged, but this essential training, which brings me to the next point.

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4. Are you prepared to spend time and money in training? I can not even tell you how many books I read before we bought Jack and that I was prepared to go. If it had only been the two of us, we’d have been much easier. I didn’t have any idea how much energy it would have to educate my family the way to be with him. Jack was and is a wonderful dog, but it was exhausting in the beginning since he figured out where he fit in our family. Group courses were helpful in socializing him as well as modeling for our kids how to be, and still it took a lot of work and time.

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If you said yes to what above, the next step is focusing on a kind of dog or breed.

Many publications and websites can give an notion of what to expect from the standpoint of energy, exercise requirements, playfulness, ease of training, much affection level. Since my husband, Paul, nor that I had ever trained a puppy and because our kids were younger, Paul and I concentrated on strains which were highly trainable, easygoing and affectionate.

In the end we went with a British Labrador retriever, that is stockier and generally more placid than its American cousin. Jackie Boy had a ton of medical emergencies the very first calendar year, but with steady exercise, persistent training and a little maturity, he became a wonderful addition to our family. Our pug, Oliver, a stud dog for a backyard breeder, was a rescue. He lived in an outside kennel for three years and was never fully housebroken. We have had him a year, and the brief story is we are still working with it.

Even in the event that you plan to attend a shelter and are available to any strain, do your research that will assist you create the very best choice for everyone’s sake.


Be warned: Having a puppy could have a toll on your home. Your dog may:

Chew on the furniture.
“Evacuate” every orifice on the carpets.
Scratch the flooring.
Reduce — oh, the humanity! — anywhere.
Dig in your lawn and gardens.
Eat prized plants.
Track in dirt.
Press a moist nose glass doors and windows.
Stink up the joint.

Obviously, the majority of these behaviors could be averted with consistent training, which, in the beginning anyway, is a good deal of work.

Alison Hodgson

When I polled my dog-loving friends, the tales of tear and wear in their homes came flooding in. And everyone agreed that the delight of getting their dogs left it more than worthwhile.

My family would certainly agree that our life is richer since we’ve opened our hearts and our home to dogs. Here’s Oliver (in the foreground) and Jack, with our youngest, Eden.

Your turn: Inform us about your puppy below (include a photograph too, please)!

More: 50 dogs in design

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