The day after I graduated from college in 2003, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I drove out to Colorado with big dreams. We had friends living out there who would give us a place to stay while we got on our feet. We would get jobs and an apartment within a month or so. Fast forward six months and we were still living with our friends and just scraping by with our crummy post-grad office jobs.
Even though we weren’t yet living the dream, we decided that we would add a dog to our lives. I don’t know who thought of it initially or how we got our friends/roommates to agree to that, but before I knew it, we had adopted our first fur baby. She was a beautiful Shepard mix named Suzy. At a year old, she was crate trained, housebroken, and full of love and energy. Adopting a dog at that time may have seemed crazy to most, but we were ready to love her.
Suzy eventually moved back east with us when we got job offers in New York. She moved from apartment to apartment with us, and was nothing but loving and easy going with each car trip or new start. In 2010 she showed overwhelming love to our newborn son. And again in 2012, she showed love to a new baby even though she herself had moved down another notch on the family totem pole. She lived a very full life and was adored by all of us. We grieved hard for her when she passed away the night before Thanksgiving in 2014.
After three and a half years of grieving, remembering, and thoughtful planning, we knew we were ready for another dog this summer. We got a Bernese Mountain dog puppy who was just eight weeks old when we took her home. We named her Nora. She was unlike Suzy in many ways. Just a puppy, Nora was not housebroken or crate trained, and she was full of puppy energy! However, she quickly became a part of our family and we are so excited to love her just as we loved Suzy.
If you are considering bringing home a fur baby to your family, here are a few things to consider:
What breed of dog is a good match for your family right now? Your lifestyle matters to the dog. If you are an active family who wants a dog to hike and run with, it will have to be a different breed than a family who isn’t home at all during the day. If your kids are little, you can’t count on them to walk an active dog multiple times a day over summer break, no matter how many times they say they will! If you are older, not as active or work outside the house, you may want to consider a dog that is low maintenance.
Size matters. Bringing home the right sized dog is important. Big dogs can overpower little kids and small dogs can be too yappy for some babies.
The cost. Dogs can be expensive! Food, treats, toys, dog walkers, boarding while you’re on vacation, medicine and possible surgeries…the list goes on! Consider pet insurance and read up on what is covered. You may also want to put away a little money each month for the “what ifs” that are bound to happen.
Training time. Training a puppy takes constant and consistent effort on the part of the owner. Just like raising kind children, raising a puppy to be an obedient and calm adult is a full time job. Be sure that you have the time that is needed to dedicate to the task.
Space. Do you have a yard for the dog to play in? A safe space for him or her to be walked? Is there fencing or invisible fencing on your property? All dogs need a safe space where they can run and play.
Just like the chaos of bringing home another baby to your family, bringing home a fur baby can be a big challenge but the love and joy that a dog brings to your home is never ending, and worth all of those middle of the night bathroom breaks (outside!).