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Should I or Should I Not Get a Dog?

1614 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  +BlueMerle
I've been stressing out about wanting a dog for the past month.

I love animals - having raised an array very personally all through my life, and having 3 of my own now (turtle, tortoise, cat - all whom I've had for over 5 years, and one who I've had for 16). I am an extremely good animal owner, because I treat them like my best friend while still taking care of them. My cat is even trained to come to her name being called, stay, and stop when I say "no".

I want a dog because I want someone that is more active than my cat, and a little more "friend like", if that makes sense (I take care of my cat a lot and snuggle, train her, and walk her all the time, and she is always so excited that I'm home - even will play "peek a boo" when I walk through the door, but it's still not that excitement and that very high-energy friendship. That is not to say I don't love my cat - she is the closest I'll ever get to having a child).

Problem is, there's a lot of change in my life right now. I'm taking a gap year in between finishing my bachelor's degree, and starting next year, I'll be working part time and be in school about 20 hours a week. The career I'm is known for being unpredictable. I'm applying for a new job right now, and I'm hoping I can take my dog to work with me (worry not -- I'm not adopting before I have my job and hours set). I also want to travel, though again, because of my career, I could be traveling once a year or 10+ times a year within the next decade.

I really want to get a dog though. I don't have many friends, and don't like having many friends because I am so fiercely loyal and deeply attached to the ones I do have (which drives them crazy), and although I am very lucky and a happy person, I often feel lonely or like I have no place to go for any kind of connection to others people. To me, animals are as much people as "human" people are - that, with the love I have for animals, makes me want to get a dog. But I'm extremely stressed about the commitment and the time/travel (not "time-travel" as in back to the future, but "time / travel").

I've thought about fostering or adopting an older dog. My issue with an older dog is that I fear it might not be able to keep up with my lifestyle (I am an active person, and absolutely want to be out and about with my dog a decent amount of time, and have them play with my sister's 3 dogs at the beach or something). Fostering is a slight issue for the reason that it still does not alleviate my fears: I do not want to give a dog back to the shelter unless it is adopted. That's got to be terrible for the dog, and if I have the dog for 5 months then take it back, then the family that does adopt it is going to have to wait for at LEAST 5 months before the dog realizes that it's got a home. Then, it still does not alleviate my fears on time constraints (that I don't even know if they exist yet).

My life has been extremely chaotic for the past year, and so I've become a little fearful of committing to anything - leading to quite a bit of indecisiveness on my part (if you've seen "The Good Place", my indecisiveness is bordering the level of Chidi's).

As I see it:

Pros: It looks like my living situation is pretty set, I am very aware of the time and immense attachment it takes to truly care for an animal, I really want a dog and can give it a great life.

Cons: I predict my life is going to be unpredictable in the next few years, I don't know my daily schedule at all, and I'm the kind of person that does not make any plans, and plans their day by the seat of their pants, but is still always home to take care of my animals, and I want to travel (mini dachshund maybe?)

I have no idea. Whenever I think I'm decided on a decision, I rock back to the other side of the pendulum on the completely opposite decision. I don't know why I'm stressing so much over this - I got my tortoise, who is supposed to live 150 years, after an hour of my Dad and me first seeing him, without any prior thought, and I am so happy he and my turtle get to roam around our little yard and we get to chat during the day!

Please, any words of wisdom or personal opinons would be welcome...thank you :wave:
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I think you should take your time and think about more. Give it a few more months at least then see how you feel. I understand somewhat of how you feel- I spend my free time outdoors, and I like to be away from other people for that time, but I also dont like being alone. Having a dog alleviates that for me. That being said, I moved around alot in my twenties. It really, really sucks having to find a home for an animal when your living arrangements change, or your job takes up so much of your time that you cant give a dog the proper attention. Living arrangements can be made to work- but your career is what can really be the issue.
Take more time to think about it. If your job is going to allow you the time then go for it- but its a hard day when you're offered a job that would pay you twice what you make, but you would have to give up a beloved animal to take that job. Animals can hold you back in life just as much as they can enhance your life.
I wouldn't get a dog even if there's a small chance that you'd end up traveling 10 times a year, unless you know someone who would be willing to take care of your dog for you. And even then, you never know what might come up. One of my friends got a puppy even if she's away for 2 days every month, and it's sometimes hard for her to find someone to keep the dog. An extra puppy is a lot to handle for her friends (us included, because our puppy goes NUTS when he is around and they just run everywhere and never take a break, which is just too much for more than a couple hours)... so before you get a dog, search for puppy sitters in your area, and get in touch with one, preferably two.

Keep in mind also that while you can leave a cat even a couple days alone, you really can't leave a dog alone longer than 10 hours (I try to avoid longer than 8 hours), which means that you are limited in what you can do (no spending the day at the beach or in the city for us). So an 'active lifestyle' might not be very dog-friendly, depending on where you live and what you like to do.

If you do get a dog, I suggest an adult that you know will be able to keep up with you and will be comfortable enough around other people to come with you on your outings (my young dog was supposed to be a hiking partner, it's never going to happen, because she grew up extremely nervous around strangers). Most older dogs I know are happy to just have a 30 minutes walk then lie down on the couch.
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It's really hard to say whether or not you will be able to handle a dog. Some people juggle it really well even with busy and unpredictable schedules, and others really suffer. It all depends on the person.

I do think that you would gain a lot of insight fostering. It depends on the shelter or rescue, but most foster dogs won't leave you until they get adopted. And they will take the dog back and find it a different foster if your home doesn't work out. Its a commitment, sure, but its a commitment that you aren't committed to, you know? If your foster gets adopted out and you decide dogs aren't your thing, great! Everyone is still happy because you weren't the forever home. It's much harder to give up a dog when you went into it thinking that the dog was going to be with you for the next 10-15 years, and then you decided dogs aren't your thing. And who knows, maybe you'll end up falling in love with your foster and decide to become a foster-failure and adopt!

That being said, dogs are much, much different than a turtle, tortoise, or even a cat. You can only be out of the house for 8-9 hours because the dog needs to potty. They need at least an hour of active, one-on-one time with you per day (depending on breed, some need more or less). They require tons of training. They're absolute butt holes for the first year or two of their life. You need to have a place to take the dog if you travel and can't take him with, which can cost anywhere from $30-$40 per day. A week long trip to Florida cost us $200 to board our dog at a daycare facility!

You probably won't understand until you at least try, and that's why I suggest fostering. I promise, the dog will be fine whether you keep him until he's adopted or decide dogs really, really aren't what you want and have the shelter find another foster.
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First I want to applaud you for taking all of the factors into consideration rather than just rushing out and getting a dog with no thought to the long term.

I know how hard it can be to wait on something you want and are excited for, but in your case I really think that would be best. With all of the upcoming changes in your life you (and the dog) would be better to wait until things settle down and stabilize. Where you live and where you work are huge factors in deciding if you should get a dog or not so I would recommend waiting until those are secured before getting a dog. At your point in life you don't want to make things more difficult. Ideally you would pick a dog that fits in with your life so it's hard to do that when your life is changing so much. Also what if your dog has separation anxiety and can't be left alone? What if the dog and cat don't get along? Are you prepared to take on these kinds of long-term situations?

Owning a cat is NOTHING like owning a dog. Cats are a breeze! A dog will completely change your lifestyle, whether you like it or not (even more so if you get a puppy). Dogs are amazing companions but they do put restrictions on your life. For example, you're gone all day at school or work, then come home to a dog that's been waiting all day to see you. Forget going out with friends, forget going out for dinner, forget going to the gym, forget doing anything except providing your dog with attention and exercise. Some people are okay with that. I'm mostly okay with that, but it's frustrating at times. I'm only now taking my first vacation since getting a dog 5 years ago (and I'm completely stressed about leaving the dogs for that long).

Think of getting a dog as like getting a new room-mate. You don't know what personality they're going to have, you don't know what you're going to like about them and what's going to drive you crazy, you don't know how messy they are going to be, prepare for your things to be destroyed, and prepare to spend ALL your free time with them.

Animals can hold you back in life just as much as they can enhance your life.
This statement is so true.

Fostering sounds like a great idea for you. Don't feel bad if you might end up giving a foster back. You're already helping! And it's giving you a good idea of what it's like to live with a dog. It's a win-win :)
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Good for you thinking about this pretty deeply.

I think you have some things to work on for yourself personally. Asking a dog to take the place of friends can put a LOT of pressure on the dog. Not all dogs have the desire to be THAT close to their human handlers. This attachment and loyalty that "drives them crazy" (your friends) needs to be addressed by you and not by transferring those things to a dog. It sounds a bit obsessive???

Dogs have short lives compared to humans (usually). Can you handle putting the dog to sleep if it develops a disease that causes severe sickness and misery for the animal or are you going to try to keep the dog alive in spite of it's misery??? Something to consider. If you own animals it is what you must go through at some point.

A dog is not something you can leave off like your other pets. You have to get them out to potty and walk and train so there is that. Do you have the time to consistently do this even in chaos?

Last, your life is far from settled. A dog is a commitment of 12 or more years. You don't know where you will be in two years (back in school) or where you are going after that in a profession that, but your own admission, is chaotic and unpredictable.
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I second the idea of fostering. I would recommend that you get a 3 - 5 year old male Lab. At that age they have begun to mellow as a companion, and they still have energy to play. In addition, you may 'specify' that you foster a dog that is compatible with your sister's and father's household, if you need to travel.

An advantage of a Lab or Lab mix is that they quickly adapt to their environment and to your schedule, and they can easily forgive your mistakes...
take that leap of faith and get that man a dog! ahhah! its one of the most wonderful things one can ever do. especially if you adopt one from a shelter, youre giving the pup a new lease of life, a new loving family!

but caring for a pup comes with its challenges as every dog has their own personality and peeves. its very mch like caring for a child!

this is coming from experience! haa. get a pup, you wont regret it
Just like having a kid in the modern age there is no 'right time,' you'll be playing the dating game till 30, then you'll spend months planning a wedding, buying a house, having infant children...all while busting your *** for the man at work... I know someone who had a kid, got married and got a German Shepard and got divorced in the same year, which is just insane (and honestly I dunno how the dog or kid is doing but yeah, people bite off more than they can chew). If it's something that you want then you have to adjust the other stuff and just do it. There will always be plenty of good reasons not to get a dog. Heck when our second dog passed my father swore up and down 'never again, too much work, etc.' two years later they got another lab mix.

I've wanted a dog of my own since the second I got out of school but my wife is a cat person and we were waiting on Misha our elderly cat with various health problems to pass...but we just got a bigger house with a huge yard and I was like "If you are going to put me through moving again and tending to two acres then I'm getting a dog." I got my dog and she's actually fairly good with that immortal thyroid-crazy cat after all.

Being the primary care person for a puppy changes your life though, I used to take conference calls from bed and get downstairs at like 1:00pm then stay up till 3:00am but since I got this dog I've been up every morning by 8am and I'm talking my conference calls with a poop scooper in my other hand... My guitar practice time has been cut drastically, video games are right out... but I'm meeting everyone in the neighborhood on walks, getting exercise, etc. They inspire you to be as simple, tireless, resilient, determined and dedicated as they are.
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