I interrupt my normally scheduled Fashion Friday to bring you a dose of reality. Inspired by Rigby, my divo pup who kept us up until 4am last night.
Being a dog owner is hard. It is also not for the faint of heart.
These are the things no one tells you about being a dog owner:
- Dogs are not created equal. Your experience with one dog could be vastly different than another.
- They don’t understand consequences. Oh that strange substance on the floor looks good? Yeah, not so good 8 hours later… Dogs get into things. Then dogs get sick. And they keep you up all night wailing if they are divas. This is what happened to us last night.
- Socialization is critical, and you only have a short window. There are a million challenges in socializing your dogs. You don’t want to scare Fluffy, but you have to keep Fluffy safe from strange people. You have to get Fluffy used to everything, lest it be scared of crossing streets, men with beards, or large people in fur coats.
- Dogs have issues. Some are bigger than others. Resource guarding, separation anxiety, general anxiety issues (fear of fireworks, the vet, etc), health problems, dog aggression, scared of strangers, over protective, door bolters… the list goes on.
- You have to be a parent and an advocate for your dog. Parenting a dog is very much like parenting a child. There are different ways to train your dog. Force free, positive reinforcement, aversive, nothing in life is free… the list goes on. And everyone will give you their advice and expect you to follow it, even if they have never owned a dog. When you don’t, they will be offended and be like WHY ARE YOU DOING IT THAT WAY I TOLD YOU TO DO IT MY WAY.
- You have to be responsible. Dogs make it challenging to have a life, especially when they are little. Oh you need to work 8 hours a day? How is Fluffy going to go potty? Oh you want to go out with friends after work? Hello, potty time over here!
- They’re hellions as puppies. They bite, mouth everything, get into everything, and need to be watched like a hawk. And when they’re not eating your favorite shoes or sawing off the leg of your wooden table, he or she will be peeing on your brand new rug.
- They’re expensive. They get bumps and lumps, rashes and hot spots. They eat stuff and get tummy upsets. Not to mention if you’re the unlucky owner of a dog who has chronic issues, veterinary expenses are not for the faint of heart. Also, you’ll want to buy them every different kind of treat, and they’ll destroy all their toys regardless of their “indestructible” label.
- They make a mess. They roll in other animals’ excrement. They shed, and in Rig’s case, blow coat. They need their toenails clipped (Oh the horror…) If you’re OCD about cleanliness, run fast and far!
- But most of all, they can’t communicate. Sure they can howl, bark, cry, whine, growl, and grunt, but they cannot speak any language that is understood by humans. We must, instead, watch them for cues. Lip licking, cowering, shaking, shifty eyes – all cues that they are uncomfortable. I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted Rigby to understand English. And he never will… except for a few things like sit, stay, down, fetch, and of course, his favorite, treat.
But you know what? Even though last night we were miserable and got barely any sleep, I wouldn’t change it for the world. When I come home and Rigby gives me woo-woos and airplane ears and grunts with a toy in his mouth at me, I forget everything bad he has ever done.
Are you a dog owner? What do you find the most challenging about being a dog mom or dad?