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Hi,

I am currently wrestling with the decision of whether to get a dog or not, and I am hoping to recieve as much feedback from current dog owners as possible. I take this decision very seriously. I know that a puppy would be too much to handle, so I am trying to make the decision to adopt a 2 year old dog from the SPCA.

Currently I am a 21 year old male and have never owned a dog before. Although I have wanted a dog since I was old enough to speak, my parents were never for the idea as they feared that they would become the primary caretakers. Now that I am older, I still think about the prospect of owning a dog on a yearly basis, this is the first time since then that I have actually been able to realistically consider the option. A little background on me: I am a student in Victoria, B.C, this will be my last year of university. I live with 5 roommates, some of whom have owned dogs before, but all are dog lovers and open to the idea. I have alot of free time as a student, and a very flexible schedule, which I think is conducive to the first year of owning the dog. Also I currently have 2 well paying jobs, one that I am doing full-time in the summer (I am at home in Calgary with my parents, they have already said they are ok if I want to take a dog and would watch it during the day when I work), I have a second job in Victoria which I do 4 - 8 hours a week depending on my schedule. In 2 to 2.5 years from now I would like to travel to Europe for 2 - 3 months and then to Austrailia for 6 months to a year. I would love to bring a dog to Austrailia with me, is it practical to transport a dog overseas to live with me for an extended period of time like that?

What I am truly looking for in a dog is companionship, fun, and a good reason to get outside. I already have an active lifestyle and want a dog that will catch a frisbee, socialize well with others, and can also relax at home on the couch while I watch some TV or play games at night. I am not a person who gets involved in lots of lessons or team sports, usually I play intramurals with friends twice a week for an hour at a time, but I can't see a problem in bringing a dog along to those events and tying him up with teammates on the bench. I also want my dog to be able to go most places I go, but be able to be by himself on the occasional friday or saturday night if I want to go out with friends. I do spend the majority of my time at home, I like to sleep in my own bed and I do not sleep the day away, I enjoy waking up early enough to enjoy the day.

I realize that owning a dog is going to be at least a 10 year commitment, and will cost me likely $15,000 dollars in that time period. However my dog will likely need to spend more time alone during the day as he gets older. I expect by my late 20's that I will have a fairly steady 9-5 sort of job and will be living with a roommate or significant other. At this point it would be unknown if I would be in an apartment or small house. I hope that my dog would be adaptable to these changes in living arrangements over the years.

I truly am I dog person, I have always loved dogs and want one very badly. It is because of this that I want to frankly address the issue and make the best decision for the potential dog. The last thing I want is to take the plunge only to realize that it is simply not practical. I also am willing to make certain sacrifices in order to own a dog, but I am really clueless about what those sacrficies might be. Finally, I am hoping to get a medium sized dog, in the 40 pound range. I am a real fan of dogs with a Lab/German Shepard/Collie sort of look.

Please help me out! All information to me is relevant and important so lay it on thick!

Cheers
 

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I think it would be best if you waited a year, until you've finished school. You currently have a great lifestyle for dog ownership, but that's very likely going to change dramatically once you enter the working world. At this point, you don't know what kind of work you'll be doing, what your hours will be, or where you will be living. It sounds like you'd be a great dog owner, but until you know those things, you won't know what dog will best suit you, and can't really make a good commitment for your dog.

I would recommending two things courses of action to start. (1) Try volunteering at a local animal shelter; you will learn a tremendous amount in a very short time, and will qualify you to (2) foster a dog. Fostering would be a great option for you - you'll have all the responsibilities of a dog owner, but for a short period of time.
 

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Here's what I think is a great idea. Contact a local rescue and see if you can foster a dog. You get the joys (and woes) of dog ownership for a short period of time and can see what dog ownership is all about.

Crap. Just saw that Independent George stole my idea before I posted it. Hate when that happens.
 

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One thing to consider would be the size of your dog. I don't know about other places but in these parts we found that most rentals have a 20-25 lb limit. Since you don't know what your living arrangements will be you might want to check around in your area and see what the requirements are. If you end up renting it can be a real pain to find a place.

I think you could make it work but if it were me I would wait until I was back from overseas and settled in. But that's just me.

I wish more dog owners would ask questions and think things through the way you are before getting a dog.
 

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I agree with w8ing4rain. When you go overseas, your dog has to be quarantined for at least a month or two, depending on the country. Even that can be really tough to bear, and imagine the cost of the boarding.

So, when you arrive to Europe just for a couple months, you'll only see your dog for a month, then moving to Australia, for 6 months like you said, you would see your dog for a short time. Consider that.

If you weren't traveling, and stay in your country, you wouldn't have much of a problem.

Now - the only thing that I can really say bluntly is to NEVER rely on your roommates to take care of your dog while you're out or whatever. YOU are the sole owner of the dog. YOU are responsible for the dog. Just because your roommates are dog lovers doesn't mean that they will "TAKE CARE" of the dog. I am not too fond about that kind of situation because I would think that a dog in a household with 6 people, will be confusing for the dog. The dog will not know who the "master" is. Your dog may get confused with various commands. Some people use the word "C'mere", or "come". Then "Sit", "Down", etc...that's why sometimes it's difficult to train a dog commands because people are not consistent enough.

I cannot make the decision for you. Only you can. If you know and understand the responsibility of caring for the dog, go for it. If you want a "trial", it would be a great idea to foster. That way you can have it for 3 months or so. It will also give you different taste of type of dogs you prefer. Since it's only a temporary situation, you don't have to plan 10 years of its life.

I wish you best of luck either way!
 

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I've had dogs all my life & can't imagine being without one. It sounds to me that you would be committed to a dog. The only red flag for me was when you said you hope to travel overseas for up to 9 mths. Australia has very strict quarantine regulations. I don't know off hand how long they'd have to be in quarantine.
Good luck with you're decision & I hope you make the right one.
 

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I was looking into going to Australia to work for a year a number of years ago, and looked into their quarantine regulations at that time. It was six months strict quatantine, which seems pretty harsh to put a dog through if you're only going to be there for six months to a year. I'd personally wait until you're finished with school and finished with your over seas travels. It would be far kinder to the dog, IMO.
 

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Once upon a time, I was in a similar boat as you and decided to wait a few years until I was more settled. I think it was the best thing for me and the dog, as dogs are a lot of work and there are so many major changes that happen in life as you graduate school and move on with your life. Also, dogs are major creatures of habit and tend to appreciate a routine/schedule.

I'm now in my mid twenties and have the kind of stable lifestyle/home situation that makes having a dog much easier for both me and my little pup.
 

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It's great to see a potential dog owner putting some thought into getting a dog, instead of just buying one on impulse. I really applaud you for this; I know it's not fun having to wait for the excitement of a dog.

Having said that, I still think it would be more advisable to wait a year or so before getting a dog. You sound mentally prepared for the responsibility, but it might be better for you to stabilise your lifestyle a little before taking on a canine companion. Figure out your housing situation after graduation, do the traveling you want to do, and land yourself a sustainable job so you know what your hours will be like. I think right now with your schedule, a dog would be possible, but a lot is going to change in the next couple of years and the last thing you want to do is for circumstances to dictate that you can't keep your dog.

Wait for a year or so, and spend some time figuring out what kind of dog you want to get: what breed, for starters? All breeds have different energy levels, grooming requirements, trainability levels, temperaments and so on, all of which are worth considering to find a dog that fits what you want. Secondly, where from? If you decide to rescue, start volunteering at local shelters and maybe do some foster work. If you decide to go with a breeder, start learning how to identify a reputable breeder. Go to dog shows and meet breeders of the breed you're interested in -- even if you don't end up buying a puppy from them directly, they will be able to direct you to valuable contacts and give you tons of information about the breed.
 
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