Bringing a dog into your home is a huge personal commitment and a big step for two people in a committed relationship. My fiancé has been dying for a dog and since the day that friends of our decided to get a puppy, his talk of dogs has become more suggestive and less futuristic. While we may be ready for this peak in our lives, are we ready for what comes next? In so many examples before us, it always seems like: first comes puppy, then comes baby.
Being ready to be a dog owner means, having a suitable home to bring the dog in to, in every sense of the word. In reference to your home as the physical building the dog will be living in, your home should certainly be large enough to keep the dog comfortably. Obviously, small apartments are more appropriate for smaller breeds, than they are for larger breeds but some larger dogs that have low exercise demands can fit in just fine in an apartment. That doesn’t mean you can leave your little dog alone all day in your cute apartment with no walks. You must be sure you have not only the space for a furry little friend, but also, the time to give it a good life.
The biggest determinant of readiness for a dog is also the most frequently overlooked. Many people believe they can afford a dog if they have enough cash in their hand to pay for the dog, a leash, food and water bowls, one bag of food, and some toys. All of these things are important, but they don’t denote the end of the investment. Of course, you will need to continue to buy food for the dog, but what can’t be foreseen are the possible impeding medical costs. Keeping a dog healthy is going to cost you, keeping a dog with an illness or chronic condition, is going to cost you even more. Eventually you will have to buy new leashes, bowls and toy for the dog. Your dog will need to be groomed regularly, this can be done by you to save money, but you will still need to pay for the required tools. Then there are all of the lovely things in your home that the dog could potentially destroy, and if it destroys too many expensive things, there is the cost of training classes.
Now for the other definition of a home, the abstract though of a home as a family, the place where your love is, as opposed the place where you stuff is. A dog is a ten to fifteen year commitment, and if you aren’t ready to make that kind of commitment to the person you are living with, you should probably rethink the concept of getting a dog “together”. If you part ways, only one person gets the dog. There is no shared custody when it comes to pets. For the sake of the dog, bring it only into a stable, loving home. Dogs don’t save marriages in real life like they do in season two of Sex and the City.
Whether they are conscious of the correlation or not, married or unmarried, time and time again, we see couples who get a puppy one day, only to announce they are trying to, or have conceived a less furry bundle of joy the next. I suppose there are many different reasons for the correlation. For some people, finding the perfect dog was the next step in getting their ducks in a row. For others, the puppy could have served as a practice baby, whether it was intended to be thought of in that way at the time or not. On top of that, there seems to be a congruency between couples who give there new puppy a “people name” like Hank, as opposed to a silly “dog name” like Beast Von Kittenstomper, and their desires to produce a lineage. However, the thought that this pattern is not random, but explicitly cause and affect, is a bit intimidating to say the least.
What happens when you have the physical home, the emotional home, and two other small pets with “people names”, but you don’t anticipate being prepared for the graduation from puppy to baby any time soon. Will you escape the common custom by doing the same things you’ve always done to prevent propagation? Can having a puppy somehow change your hormones or your relationship in a way that make your number come up for the first time in the baby lottery? Or is it that the puppy doesn’t fill the hole you didn’t know was empty; and suddenly, you find yourself aware – with the readiness and willingness to take that next step.