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It all began after I saw the movie Due Date. I started off with a mild curiosity for French bulldogs (or “Frenchies,” if you are in the know)—looking at pictures online, researching breeders of show-dog quality Frenchies (only the best would do!), following funny Frenchies on Instagram and watching YouTube videos. Then after about six months I was in full-blown obsession mode. I was ready to get a dog. That Christmas my family gave me Lucy, the cutest white Frenchie in the whole world. If you ignore that she only listens half the time, knows a total of two tricks (“sit” and “high five”) and has severe allergies, she could be an award-winning show dog she’s so cute!
Since you are reading this post, I can assume you are thinking about getting a dog. If so, here are some things to consider prior to making the commitment. The more research and thought you put into it in the beginning, the happier you and your little puppy will be. Welcome to motherhood… kinda!
Who Let the Dogs Out: Which Dog Is For Me?
First and foremost is deciding which dog is best for you! I’m sure you probably have at least one breed in mind that you have seen and fell in love with. If you are unsure, the best resource that I have found is Animal Planet.
Take their short questionnaire to find your “Top Dog.” In ten quick questions, they suggest best dog for you and your lifestyle taking into account your activity level, ability to groom, and the climate you live in. The site also provides a detailed breakdown of the breeds: energy levels (VERY IMPORTANT), how attached they can get, their level of protectiveness, and general health problems you can expect. I bring this up not to scare you but to be honest and encourage you to take this aspect seriously. More on health and the responsibility that you will incur financially later.
Ready, Set, Change!
The idea of getting a dog and actually getting a dog are two different things. In my head, it’s like having kids… I love other people’s cute and happy kids, but I like giving them back when they start to cry. I urge anyone who is thinking about getting a dog to really consider their lifestyle and what getting a dog means to them. Getting a dog was something that I truly was ready for… or as ready as you could ever be! I wanted the companionship and was ready to make the daily commitment to take care of a dog emotionally, physically, and financially.
As cute as Lucy is, everything in my life has changed. Specifically, my day-to-day schedule and my monthly budget have shifted; the days of sleeping in, staying out late, or leaving town on a whim are OVER! I get up now at least 20-30 minutes earlier before work to take Lucy out and play with her to rid her of some of her energy. Luckily, now that she is two years old she is less wild; she tends to just fall back asleep after I take her out in the morning. When she was a puppy, I would come home at lunch to take her out and, eventually, this became unnecessary. Aside from that, leaving town now involves booking a babysitter for Lucy a week in advance. The point is, you truly are not free! I may sound harsh, but it’s only because no one told me the truth.
It is a huge commitment, but I can’t tell you how rewarding it is each and every time I come home and see her. I know I sound really cheesy, but I swear Lucy being excited to see me is the best part of my day; I’m her mama, and our bond is strong. I am convinced she has social amnesia and acts excited to see everyone, but I am definitely special in her eyes. I love that. Nothing that I have given or sacrificed in my daily schedule would have given me the same amount of love or reward as Lucy has.
Save Your Money, Honey!
I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of time and money I have put into this dog. If it’s not check-ups, shots or fecal tests (required for her “school” a.k.a Doggie Daycare—MY SAVIOR), it’s her allergies and dermatologist appointments. Granted, the allergy regiments and any future breathing problems that Lucy may incur are definitely a health issue associated with her breed. This is why I highly recommend researching the breed you are interested in and talking to either a vet or someone you know who has the same type of dog to get the real scoop on what to expect. Generally the trendy breeds—small dogs such as pugs, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, etc.—can have more health problems. (You can find more on Animal Planet.)
Fear not. There is a solution for you to proactively avoid such financial pitfalls: Pet Insurance! There are a ton of pet insurance companies out there that will be a lifesaver for you. Consult your vet on which insurance they deal with most frequently and who covers the most in regard to procedures and health care you will need specific to the type of dog you have. Every dog is different, so do your research!
Mi Casa es Lucy’s Casa
I already hinted at the similarities of a dog to children. Just as you need to “baby proof” your house for a small human, you must do the same for a dog. Until you train your puppy to adhere to your rules, your house is overrun by its furry new resident. Here are Lucy’s rules to give you an idea of how I’ve had to prioritize her. Generally speaking, you will need to keep anything you don’t want your pet to touch completely out of reach.
- Take her out before I let her play around the house (no accidents here!).
- Be consistent with the words I use to encourage her to go potty.
- Keep her in a safe place while I am away; do not let her wander around the house until she is older and 100% potty trained. This is for your benefit.
- I had a playpen when she was only 7 lbs. When she got bigger I fenced in an area downstairs for her to play in while I wasn’t home. You can use baby gates, or explore options at Petsmart or Amazon specifically for pets.
- The area was ALWAYS lined with potty pads in case of an accident.
- Fence off areas of the house you want to avoid any accidents in (generally carpeted areas, but every dog has a different preference).
Sharing the love
I highly recommend nailing down an Instagram name, Facebook account and YouTube username. Even if you aren’t planning to promote your dog, get an account on your preferred platform because 1) you don’t want to bug your non-dog friends with pictures and 2) it’s fun to share the love with other animal-lovers!
Please leave your questions in the comments below. I am happy to answer them and help in any way I can. Owning a dog has been my favorite part of “adulthood” thus far, and I couldn’t be happier for you and the experiences you will soon have!