May 15, 2014

So you think you're ready for a dog?

We have been dog owners for about 3 months now, to the sweetest pup: Piper

She is a chesapeake by retriever lab mix.  We adopted her from an organization called Rescue Rovers.  They are amazing.  We loved the process and the fact that she was rescued from the pound.  After being rescued, she got her shots, was micro-chipped, and then went to a volunteer foster home, where she made friends with another dog and 'normalized'.  She was so ready for us when we adopted her 3 weeks later.

She's Loves to fetch, loves to run and has so much energy in the mornings.  But she calms down through the day and just wants to sleep and snuggle the evening away.  She's perfect for our family.

But she does come with a lot of work, too.  Not unexpected, but be prepared for a puppy if that is what you're going to get.  She's worth every ounce of it, but seriously: MAKE SURE YOU'RE READY before you adopt.

 Our sweet Piper is a medium haired dog, even though she's half lab. That means that in the spring she sheds.  Boy howdy.  Does she shed.  When the shedding was at its heaviest, I'm pretty sure I combed a small Pomeranian out of her.  It's truly like you can get a whole other dog out of your shedding medium to long hair pup when their winter coat comes off.  

So if she's an inside dog, you'd better be prepared to throw away any food that drops on your floor anytime, anywhere.  If the dog doesn't eat it, then the nasty hairs will make it inedible.  That was only about a month or so of pure terribleness.  I think... 

On the positive side, our pup has been the most patient of friends to our kids.

And she's fun to explore with.  She was so excited to eat the snow here.  We were at a park, which is another thing.  

Puppies get crazy excited to see other dogs.  The other dogs aren't always so crazy to see them.  It makes for a lot of awkward situations if you're hauling kids already and have to go all hulk to keep your dog from chasing another.

Another consideration: is your family at the right ages to have a puppy.  This is our 1 year old kissing Piper on the back to say sorry for hitting her.  Our boy, like any other toddler, loves to go through his recently acquired knowledge about the features of a face on Piper.  That means piper gets a little finger to the eye ever 3 hours or so as our baby says 'eye'! excitedly.  Piper is so patient and has never acted out despite the unfair treatment.  We really try to defend her and keep her safe.

Consider this: what will you do with your dog when you go on vacation?  We visited my parents, who also own 2 dogs.  It was funny that at first they didn't get along but in the end, they loved each other.  But not even with her new friends was our Piper happy at night, which meant barking, and eventually sleeping just inside the door on the tile.  I'm not sure my parents were ok with that, but they were flexible.  Thank goodness.  We almost took her to a boarder.  That turns into big bucks.

Final thing to consider: this nasty mess.  Dogs WILL poop in your house if they are inside dogs.  At least at first.  Our pup came potty trained, and she is.  But it's hard for ME to adjust to her schedule when I'm tending to kids all day.  Dogs have to go somewhere, and if they can't get your attention, they poop on your rug.  We're really good at cleaning it up quickly now.  I highly recommend a little green machine, by Bissell.  And alarms on your phone to remind you to take her out every 2-3 hours.

If there were no shedding or pooping in my house, I don't think I would hesitate at all to own a dog.  I completely recommend it still, even with the annoyance of the puppy stage (chewing your shoes, wetting on your carpet, etc).  Piper has taken a place in our family, and even our 1 year old can tell her to sit and she obeys.  She's a really good natured dog, and I wouldn't trade her for another.  

Funny thing is, I think most dog owners feel the same way.

So, if you winced your way through this entire post, thinking of what you'd do in similar situations, you may not be ready for a puppy.  If you read through thinking how the shedding, etc. didn't really matter, you're on your way to having a pup.  My best advice: use kindness and discipline your dog, and they'll love you without reservation.  
I highly recommend it!

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