Where My Dog Owners At?

This is Spencer.

Last Saturday, my girlfriend and I took a day trip to our college town — Mankato, Minn. — to visit her sister, see friends and check out some old haunts. We had a few hours to kill once we got there, so I thought it’d be wise to, of all things, check out a pet adoption center.

Idiot.

We’ve been toying with getting a dog now for a few months. We’ve got a place with wood floors and a fenced-in yard. So often, we find ourselves resorting to our favorite TV sitcoms and dramas for entertainment. An old, boring couple at ages 26 and 24, we’re ready to spice things up. We think, anyway.

There were 20-odd dogs at the palatial Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society, a brand new facility unlike any you’ve ever seen before. An employee took us from kennel to kennel to offer a brief bio on each dog. We went in thinking, hypothetically, if we were to ever get a dog, we wanted something smaller. Dare I say, a lap dog?

Then, we met Spencer, a German wirehaired pointer. He’s a four-year-old with a calm demeanor. Sweet. You’d want to borrow him for your Christmas card photo.

We couldn’t just impulsively adopt a pet, so we left the shelter only to spend the past week weighing the risks and rewards to owning a dog. We’ve looked through a few books to learn more about the breed and checked out websites offering advice on the adoption and acclimation processes. I called my college roommate who’s owned a GWP for a few years now. He had nothing but good things to say.

Here’s the thing: Beth and I have never owned a dog. I grew up with pets while her family never had pets. (Allergies.) I was wary of dogs my whole life until about last year, when the idea of being slobbered on or matted in dog hair no longer bothered me. I appreciated cats growing up because they were so low maintenance. Dogs, on the other hand, require a guardian to take them for exercise. Dogs don’t use a litter box. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here. Dogs are a responsibility.

The biggest question is this: Am I ready for the responsibility? There’s no more up and leaving town if we have a dog. Planning vacations means planning a dog-sitter. Things are going to get ruined, too. Am I really ready to pick up someone else’s poop? That’s just part of the deal, I guess.

But the rewards? Endless. A reason to go outside and play around. Someone who will go bananas whenever you come home. Someone who depends on you. Someone to play catch with.

Something’s holding us back, though. We can’t point it out. So preach, dog-owning readers. What do I need to know as a first-time dog owner? If you’ve adopted a dog, what was your experience like? What were some of the surprises?

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7 thoughts on “Where My Dog Owners At?

  1. I absolutely love the idea of you two getting a dog. You know me…I love animals more than humans so I’ll back up the idea at any given time. I could write a book but I wont. I don’t know much about GWP..not the cutest breeds in the bunch (my opinion) but any dog is worth loving. It will be the best friend you will never have. You and Beth will start off adoring the idea. Soon find yourselves arguing about what position the dog is most comfortable in. At least we do. It’s gross. Depending on how old the dog is and if he/she is potty trained will obvisouly make a diference in the level of maintence. No matter what, it will all be worth it. Trust me. Tyra Jo, as you know, is human to our family. If Beth wants to play dress up with your new found family member; let her. This is just the beginning of phase 1. Soon the debate will be babies. Phase 1 is a blast.
    Love you guys!

  2. Owning a dog is great, but there are the “unknowns” that occur when owning a pet. Outside of the training, feeding, and other expenses that come with owning a dog, there can also be unseen health issues.

    I only say that because you have to be careful of where you purchase dogs. Knowing the ancestry, breed, and registration information is key to knowing that you won’t have to worry about a health problem down the road. Not only can it be extremely expensive, but it can also be a detriment to your family (like Megan, our pets are like our kids).

    That said, I’m all for adopting pets who need good homes, but only if you’re ready for added responsibility. There are plenty of dogs that are 100% healthy and ready for good owners, so just do your research.

    I’ve now lived with 4 dogs and 6 cats in my life, some adopted, some bought through registered breeders. We’ve had a couple pets that didn’t work out, but for the most part, they were all great!

    On a side note, if you want to know if you are ready to own a dog, come take Dakota for a weekend! :)

  3. My family got a dog about 2 years ago. It’s been wonderful. But, at the same time, it’s a lot like having a permanent 4-year-old human to take care of. You have to plan your day around your dog. Want to get away for the weekend quick? Better plan on backing up the pup or finding other arrangements on short notice. Another downfall is when you visit family. When I visit my family, I have to pack up the dog (not a big deal) but I also have to worry about the dog in new environments with new people. My dog is needy, which is fine at home…not really fine in groups of people. It nervously barks if I am away too long and whines which can be annoying at times. Not a big deal but something to consider.

    Also, behavior problems with adopted dogs. My sister and brother-in-law got basically “back doored” in adopting a dog (one of those…just watch him for the weekend and we will never come to get him again) and the dog has anxiety and abandonment (is that a word?) issues. It also doesn’t like taller males and will act aggressive to some men. The dog will constantly bark all the time or whine in a high-pitched annoying frequency all over the house because of the commotion. I know it adds a layer of stress to family events for my sister and brother-in-law, especially with all of our kids running around.

    Just some food for thought. I would have never gotten a dog that lives indoors if I didn’t all ready have a child but thats just me. It’s not that I don’t like dogs its just that I wouldnt want the responsibility of having an inside dog after growing up with only outside dogs in the country.

  4. “We couldn’t just impulsively adopt a pet” … Haha, that’s exactly what we did, about three years ago. She was still a puppy, so I had to take her out in the middle of the night. Sometimes twice. She ripped up some of our carpet. She pooped in our living room. She barks at every car that drives by. We have to pack her up with us whenever we leave for the weekend and we feel guilty if she’s home alone for more than an hour. But you know what I’m going to say next: Never regretted it for a second.

  5. Just a thought about the fact that dogs are pack animals, and you and your girlfriend would be that dog’s pack, or family.

    I have felt terrible about the fact that my kids didn’t grow up with dogs like I did. Dogs aren’t just pets, they are like kids and definitely part of the family (I never understood people who get dogs and then chain them up outside year round). The reason I never got a dog for our family is that we are never home. I know so many people to make their dog stay in a crate all day long, and maybe run home at lunch to let them out to do their business. I’ve heard it said that dogs survive just fine that way, but just surviving isn’t OK.

    Really think how long a dog is going to have to be home alone all day before you get one. They are pack animals, and many bad behaviors dogs develop are due to anxiety issues from being left alone. A few hours a day isn’t going to hurt, but long days alone can cause a dog to become destructive. I just won’t do that to a dog…its’ not nice way to treat a species of animal who craves the company of others.

    • Thanks for your input, Sparrow. We’ve decided to hold off for now, but when we’ve got a better home and finances in place, I’m sure it’s something we’ll pursue. Thanks for reading.

      • You’re welcome… When you are ready to make that addition to your family, it will be well worth it. Dogs are amazing companions.

        Oh, and I apologize if I came off sounding like a complete crank, which is what I saw as I reread what I wrote earlier. It’s just something I feel strongly about, is all.

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