Adding a dog to your family is a decision that should not be taken lightly. It is a serious commitment that includes taking care of a living creature for 15 plus years. For many of us in modern times, the longest commitment and relationship we have is with a series on Netflix. We are the generation of short attention spans, instant satisfaction, shiny objects, and more, more, more.
When we were doing our research on the prospects of dog ownership and obtaining as much information on the process as possible, we found an overwhelmingly negative connotation in much of the literature (and by literature I mean Google searches, blogs, and forums). People were quick to offer opinions that made us feel weary about our ability to support a pup and we seriously questioned whether we would be able to pull it off.
There were certain points made that were reasonable and should be strongly considered, such as whether or not there are kids or other pets in the household, what type of breed matches your personality/energy levels, and whether or not your living situation allows for a pet (landlords, rentals, etc.). The rest of the information, as is usually the case in regards to the internet, was very negative and painted a very gloomy picture.
The forums lecture us like a disappointed parent, “You shouldn’t get a dog if you live in apartment,” “You shouldn’t get a dog unless you have a job to support the pup,” “You shouldn’t get a dog if you work because you need to be home to play with him, feed him, and walk him.” How do you say, contradiction? Luckily, we were intelligent enough to realize that the internet can be a crazy place and is full of haters and perpetrators. Our search was not deterred!
Looking back nearly two and a half years later, getting Maddie was one of the best decisions of our lives. As far as joint decisions go, definitely top 3. It is upsetting to think that we almost got turned off from the idea because of what other people deemed to be the criteria for eligible pet parents. The “ideal” candidates were essentially portrayed as stay at home parents, people who work from home, or those that have a steady supply of income but don’t work (see: lotto winners, trust funds).
If that was the only criteria for dog owners then there would be very few families that have dogs. The truth is, people work, have lives, and are not home 24/7 for their pups. So, instead of focusing only on what your job is, where you live, and all the other questions that we come across in the process, the better question to ask is:
“What accommodations and sacrifices are you willing to make to ensure your dog has the best life you can give her?”
We are the prime example of unfit candidates. Work/law school take up way too much of our time and we are actively involved in things outside of our day to day grind (coaching, creating content for a super-cool website, etc.). We live in a tiny apartment (684 square feet and probably pay more than some of your mortgages, good ole’ New Jersey) and do not have a yard, patch of grass, or anywhere for Maddie to get her exercise. We would look like an absolute nightmare on an application.
BUT…we recognize the fact that we have busy lives and limited space for Maddie to get exercise, so we work our butts off to make sure she gets everything she needs. Maddie gets exercise 2 to 3 times a day outside in addition to training and play sessions inside. She is fed meticulously planned out meals that are nutritious and delicious (just ask her). We bring her everywhere we possibly can; to the point where if she is not at a family event people start to ask questions and make sure everything is alright.
We wanted a dog so badly and care so passionately about Maddie that we are willing to do whatever we have to, to keep her happy. I would feel confident in saying that both our work and living situation have actually brought us closer to our dog and created a more meaningful relationship.
The ideal candidate has a yard for the dog to play and is home throughout the day. So what does Ideal Ida do? Opens up the door, lets the dog out, and shuts the door. Very little attention is paid to the dog and the relationship suffers. This isn’t always the case, but I can certainly think of a good amount of dog owners who love and provide for their dogs, but don’t spend a whole lot of time meaningfully interacting with their furry friend.