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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