Regular readers of TLLWTL will know how much I adore my dog. Followers of Msalonen on twitter will have a pretty good idea of how obsessed with his beautiful pair he is too. We blinking love our fluffy friends. And they love us too.
The thing is though, having a dog is hard work. They aren’t just an accessory (although to be fair, they are damn cute). Having any pet is a huge responsibility, but dogs in particular need constant attention, a lot of exercise, companionship and knowledge. Each breed has particular quirks, each dog will have a specific personality. You can’t leave them for hours like you can with cats. They become so attached to you, you need to be there to stop them developing behavioural problems. You can’t just nip off for a weekend after arranging for a neighbour to come in and feed them a couple of times. They need special care.
Which is why is saddens me that so many people buy puppies simply because they’re cute. A dog should never be an impulse purchase. They are not a pair of shoes or a new handbag. They are living, breathing creatures and the decision to bring one into your life should be a huge one – and one that you are 100% sure you can handle. After all, they’re likely to be around for 15 years or so. That’s a long time.
It upset me to learn this morning that 19% (1 in 5) of people who purchase dogs relinquish them within 2 years. Despite the occasional frustration that comes with having Doogy (when you can’t stay out overnight without pre-planning, or nip off for a weekend at the last minute), I could not imagine life without him. Before I bought him I investigated the breed (King Charles) along with many others, before deciding he was perfect for me. It would be entirely selfish to give him up just because he needs walks when I have a hangover, or because I travel slightly less now I can’t just jet off at the drop of a hat.
If you are considering buying a new puppy, I urge you to do a couple of things first:
- Investigate the breed. Find out how much they eat, how much exercise they need, whether they are suitable for the type of place you live (will they be OK in a flat all day?)
- Look into each breed’s health issues. Pedigree’s tend to have more issues that mongrels. Rescue dogs are an amazing option.
- Think about vets fee’s and the cost of food. Does it fit in your budget?
- Work out whether you can afford the time to spend with your pooch. They need a lot of love. Can you give them that?
- Consider future life changes. Will the dog fit with your plans?
If you are sure you can cope with your new (permanent) friend – then I can assure you it will be the best money you have ever spent.
The RSPCA have launched a campaign on this very subject and are offering advice and information at the www.getpuppysmart.com website. Please do check it out if you’re thinking about getting a new dog. The RSPCA is over-run with unwanted pets at the moment due to the economic climate and the post-Christmas period. Please don’t add to that number – and if you’re in the position to help them feed the thousands of animals they are currently caring for, please donate here.
Written by JJ, in the pub, with Doogy on my lap!