Here at This Small Group we believe that living life as a strong, independent woman is great- might I even say it can be the best sometimes? No one tells you where to go, no one tells you when to get there, and the best thing? If you want to light every candle in the house and binge watch Netflix there is no one there to judge you! But every once-in-a-while, when you’re sitting on the couch and watching whatever it is you feel like watching, things can get a little lonely. Believe me, we’ve all been there. In such a moment you might have found yourself weighing your options- do I give that dating app another try, do I make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, OR do I google pictures of adorable puppies? One thing leads to another and you find yourself on an adoption website trying to find out if your new housemate is going to be a loyal Labrador or a fabulous Frenchie.
I get it; as a dog owning fur-mama, I would be the last person to talk someone out of getting a dog for themselves. However, I feel like I would not be doing my dog-mom diligence if I didn’t give you a little wisdom before you head off to your local SPCA or reputable breeder. So, in the spirit of one fur-mama giving wisdom to another potential fur-mama, here are five things you might want to consider before getting a dog:
- Your schedule is no longer your own.
There’s a philosophy that says your twenties are a time to be wild and free (especially if you’re single) but once your new four-legged friend enters the equation, you’re going to find some limitations on that freedom. My dog, Mosby, has some quirks. One of those is that he wakes up at the same time every single day. That means that on Saturdays and Sundays I’m awake between 7 and 7:30…am. Now that isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes after a morning stroll, I’m motivated to make a cup of coffee and start my day. Other days I come back inside, throw some food in a bowl, and crawl back under the covers. Either way, sleeping in past eight is a thing of the past.
2. You have to step up your exercise game (literally).
No matter what breed you decide to go with, all dogs need exercise. If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, you can always play with them outside but for those of us who are apartment bound, this means a lot of walking. In all honesty, the biggest adjustment for me was prioritizing decent length walks after work during those dark winter months. An under-exercised dog can be bored, anxious, and even destructive. So, it’s in both of your best interests to up that step count on your Fitbit. (You can even get one for your new fur baby!)
3. You provide the stability- not the other way around.
Shortly after getting Mosby, I found myself unemployed, back living with my parents, and sitting in their basement while a one-year-old poodle puppy (with zoomies) tore circles around me at full speed. I remember thinking to myself what have I done? How could I have added another living creature to the mix when I can’t even take care of myself? One of the reasons I have heard people express for wanting to get a dog is that it will provide their life with stability. Relationships change, careers change, we move around more than any generation before us, so I totally understand the appeal of something to give our life a little more routine and structure, something we can depend on. The pitfall comes in thinking that a dog is going to be the solution. When you’re having a good day your fur baby needs to be walked, fed, and played with…and when you’re having a terrible day (you messed up at work, you have strep throat, you broke up with your boyfriend…) that’s right! Your fur baby still needs to be walked, fed, and played with.
4. You will feel guilty.
Unless you have a job where you can telework or your work is close enough that you can go home for lunch, you’re going to be away from your new dog for nine or ten (or more) hours a day. When Mosby was a puppy, my schedule was somewhat flexible and I was able to get him out every four or so hours. Now, I consider a nine hour day to be a big win so let me tell you- dog mom guilt is a very real thing. When other coworkers meet up for an after-work happy hour or a group of friends wants to go see a movie on a Friday night, you’re going to be faced with a decision- do you stretch that nine hours out to ten or eleven? Do you rush home and let the dog out really fast and rush back out? OR do you pass and come home to spend time with the little guy who has spent his whole day waiting for you to come home and play with his favorite headless rabbit? There is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging that you would rather go to trivia on a Monday night then rush home but it’s a lot easier to make those kind of choices now, before you have to. So if you’re considering dog parenthood I would really sit down and assess your priorities first.
5. You’re never going to regret it.
If I said that having Mosby for the last early four years has made my life easier, I would be lying to you. It has made things vastly more complicated- he makes it harder to travel, he makes it harder to save money, and he makes it harder to keep a clean-stuffing free-floor. All of that being said, I have never regretted adding him to my little family. There is no better feeling after a long stressful day then seeing his face in the window when I finally make it home. There is no better adventure then packing him up in the car to go exploring downtown or for a hike in the woods. And there is no better love than the unconditional love that a dog has for his human.
So, what do you think? Have I talked you out of it for now or are you grabbing your keys and heading out to go pick up your new best friend? For those of you who have a fur baby, what considerations would you add to this list? As for me- there are two brown eyes begging me to go for a walk so I’m off!