I am a dog lover. Not in a creepy 'pictures of dogs on my mousemat sense', but more in that I enjoy walking and playing with a dog and like having one around.
I am moving out of my rented room in a house of 4 and looking for a house for two with my significant other (God knows how he'll put up with me, but he knows what he's getting himself in to!). Obviously one of the thoughts I had was 'We could get a dog!'. Obviously with us both working full-time that may not be an option. Here is my checklist of things to think about before deciding to get a dog, both for your sake and the dog's. Until I am confident with each point, I wouldn't be getting a canine friend.
1. You won't be able to spend weekends away, or you will have to find someone to have your dog
This was a big factor in my thought process. I have only been dating my boyfriend a year. We love going away for weekends and it helps us both cope with stressful jobs. Giving that up right now would be a major downside. We could find people to look after a dog, but this is no easy feat. We don't have friends in a position to do so nearby, and if my Mum had the dog it would mean driving an hour away to drop it off.
2. You need to own your own home.
This may not be everyone's opinion, but I think owning dogs in rental accommodation is a bad idea. Either you are not allowed a dog and are hiding the fact you have one, or you have it agreed but still risk losing a deposit due to scratched doors and chewed bannisters. Personally I think it is much more appropriate to own your own home before you get a dog.
3. You need to be in most evenings.
Dogs are sociable and they also need walking every day. You need to make sure you are around most of the time for your dog. This also means...
4. You can't work full time or need to come home at lunchtimes
Dogs need the toilet too and leave your dog for hours on end every day is hard on the poor thing. I do know people who leave their dog alone while they are at work and don't pop home for lunch, but in my opinion this isn't fair on the dog. Perhaps it might be slightly fairer if you have two, but it still means they are spending the whole day without a toilet break. I work 40 minutes away so couldn't come home at lunch times and I work full-time. It just wouldn't be fair.
5. You need places for your dog to exercise
A big garden helps, but parks and woods to walk in are important too. A dog doesn't want to just run around the same yard every day. The house we have looked at is right near great walks in fields so this would be great.
6. You need a lot of spare income
Dogs are expensive. Injections are expensive. Operations are expensive. Even a check up at the vets is expensive. Unless you have a stash of cash reserved, you may have to end up leaving your pet without essential animal care. This is how dogs end up in rescue homes. Make sure you have money stashed away. I have some savings, but they need to be used on other things at this point in my life.
7. You need to be sure about your life
This seems a bit general, but I'm thinking of the long-term. If you get a dog, you need to know you don't want to jet off for a year travelling the world at some point in the near future. I would like to spend some time living in Spain, and having a dog would make that either impossible or much more difficult. You even have to know your partner won't get a job suddenly in London where you need to move into a flat because the house prices are too expensive there. My life isn't that settled right now.
I do know people who have ignored these factors and bought a dog in a similar situation to me because they wanted one. Yet, unless you are sure about all these things I think the responsible thing to do is to wait. Dogs are not to be taken lightly, they live for up to 20 years and require a lot of attention and space. I wouldn't even be prepared to get a cat at this point, as I may not be able to give it the care it deserves.
Do you have a pet? Do you agree with my checklist?