He’s so cute! She’s irresistible! I want her … NOW!
Sound familiar? Have you ever popped into your local pet store or browsed Petfinder.com and fallen instantly in love with that “doggie in the window” (or crate … or puppy playpen, whatever the case may be)?
But … is THAT the way to pick a pet for which you will be solely responsible for the next eight to fifteen years of both of your lives?
That pup may be cute now, but how cute will you find him when he corners your cat in a back room, or snarls at the neighbor’s two-year-old? How cute will she be when eyeing her from the vantage point of your hands and knees as you’re cleaning up yet another mess she left on your living room carpet? Or as she’s leaping once again over the top of the fence you had installed specifically to provide a safe environment in which for her to play?
Determining what dog is right for you and your family requires more than just the “Aw-w-w Factor.”
It requires due diligence on your part. Here are some of the issues beyond “cute” that you will want to consider before you buy a dog:
1. Do you want a purebred and, if so, what breed is right for you?
2. What kind of temperament is common to that breed?
3. Does the dog come from a reputable breeder? (If you adopt from a shelter – and I encourage you to do so – there may be additional health and emotional issues to consider, as many of these pound puppies got their start under less than ideal conditions.)
4. How high maintenance is the dog (i.e., does it shed, the amount of grooming it requires, is it a barker, etc.)?
5. How much will it cost to feed it?
6. How much space will it require? Do you have a fenced in yard?
7. What will be the cost of medical care for this particular breed (i.e., vaccinations, heart worm and other medications, annual check-ups, unexpected health issues, etc.)
8. Do you work full-time? If so, how much time will the dog be spending alone?
9. What kind of training method will you employ and what will it cost?
10. How high strung is the breed; will the dog require a lot of attention?
Let’s take a closer look at No. 7. I know you want to believe your pup is going to lead a long, healthy and joyful life without the encumbrances of health problems.
Hopefully, this will not be just a pipe dream in your case, because veterinary costs can be shockingly cost prohibitive. Besides the initial vaccination (DHLP-P) for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus, there will be those rabies boosters and the Bordetella shot that most kennels and obedience schools require. Then there is the heart worm medication,and the flea and tick repellents (flea collar and/or topical treatment), and the annual check-ups.
Then, let’s not forget those unforeseen trips to the vet or emergency clinic because the corncobs Rover swallowed have become lodged in his small intestine somewhere between Point A and Point B … or Fido has torn off a dew claw or a nail.
There is also the expense of spaying or neutering. If you wind up adopting from a local shelter, that is required and oftentimes is taken care of before the dog is even released to you. (This calls to my mind Gary Larson’s The Far Side comic strip about the dog all excited about going to the vets “to get tutored.”)
But, unless you plan to show your dog or [responsibly] breed it, you will need to have it spayed or neutered. This is generally done between the age of four-six months, although some vets do it earlier.
Oftentimes, the cost of this and other surgeries are based upon the size and weight of the dog – something else to consider if you have your heart set on a large dog.
You will also have the cost of toys and equipment to consider. Your dog will need a crate, a leash and collar, lots and lots of chew toys, healthy snacks, combs and brushes and other grooming tools, possibly a bed. There are mail order catalogs just brimming full of fun merchandise to buy for your pets. It’s an industry that’s thriving despite the current tight economy. If you wanted to – and had the money – you could spend a young fortune on your pets these days.
But don’t be discouraged. Most of that is not necessary. For the budget-minded, an old blanket is a fine substitute for a comfortable doggie bed, and you can find plenty of stuffed animals and other appropriate toys for her at the local thrift store.
And when it comes to having fun, what your dog really wants is YOU. He craves your attention. You can even incorporate training into your playtime. You’ll both love it.
So – the next time you’re tempted to buy a dog after viewing that doggie in the window, pull out the checklist above. If the dog you’ve got in mind fits the criteria (beyond “cute” that is), you may just have found yourself a new BFF (best friend forever)!
This link will be a helpful resource if you are trying to choose the best dog for your children >>> Choose a Dog
In closing, here’s a puppy video that really had Kent and I laughing. (If an ad pops up, just click the X in the right corner to get rid of it. We borrowed the video from You Tube and can’t prevent the ads. I hope you like it, too!
I’m Murron Campbell. Give YOUR personal furry friend a hug from me.