Thinking of getting a puppy? Lovely.
A few reasons not to:
Money. They. Cost. So. Much. Money. I researched the hell out of the idea before getting a dog. I asked friends how much they spent on food, worming, vets bills etc. A fact I didn't unearth is it's mostly calculated on their weight. So the figure in my head, based on a Lurcher, a King Charles Cavalier and some French Bulldogs has turned out to be somewhat off kilter for the Hungarian Vizsla who joined our family. Our pooch eats a raw diet; human grade meat, enhanced with fish and vegetables. There are days where her diet is probably more nutritious and certainly more expensive than ours. Then there is the pet insurance which seems to cunningly set its excess at just over the average vets bill. The toys, the training, the dogsitting, even the fuel needed for travel to new landscapes to save you feeling like it's groundhog day, again, add up to an unprecedented total that could've seen you booked on a city break every quarter at the very least.
Time. Aside from the training and the exercising, which becomes a job in itself, much of your spare time is taken up with pup related activities. You set up groups to meet other owners with similarly rambunctious dogs so they can burn off energy together. You find yourself joining online forums, asking and answering the most banal canine questions and conundrums. Who even are you?! You spend more time than you did with your nct group: comparing notes on near misses, bizarre behaviour and doggy diets. Your social circle will change as you spend your spare time with your four legged friend. The indoorsy lot are a goner. Friends you never knew hated dogs fall away from your life as they cannot bear the thought of your beloved mutt being near them or their precious kids/home/crotch.
Worry. Oh my, the worry. They say that having a puppy is like having a baby. I say no. This is worse, far worse than the worry from any of my three children. And I am a worrier. I catastrophise. I worried about my babies but nothing, nothing compares to this. My babies did not bite people or possessions with tenacious aplomb. My babies did not charge, with muddied paws and riotous speed, at walkers, joggers or cyclists. Nor did they have a reserve tank of enthusiasm or animosity, depending on their mood, for those wearing hats. My babies did not posses an unbridled fervor for life that could knock someone flying. My babies didn't snatch a stealth lick of people's faces given half a chance. The pre-empting, the firefighting, the worry: Exhausting.
Grapes and chocolate are banned, or should be, from your house. At the very least the storage and consumption needs to be closely monitored to ensure they don't end up being snaffled by your furry friend. Such a pain. These seemingly innocuous foods, staples in most homes with small kids are dangerous for dogs. Really bloody bad. Too much of either can send them into liver failure and ultimately, kill them. Jeez. Who knew? Not me. I spent most of my childhood feeding chocolate to my dog Rosie. In retrospect I am full of remorse for her long, slow demise, her seizures probably caused by me and my sister and our damned chocolate buttons. Sorry Rosie.
Life is changed forever. Dramatic, but true. If you are caring for your dog and giving it the time, attention and exercise it needs, your life will indeed change forever. Before children, you were pretty grossed out by dirty nappies and baby sick on people's shoulders. Not least the way they nonchalantly smudged it in with their fingers when you pointed it out to them. Grim. Before you know it, you are picking up dog poo with leaves, barehanded as you left the poo bags at home and you wouldn't dream of leaving a steaming present to greet someone on their driveway. You find yourself giving your hound a potent dried bull's penis to chew inside your house as it keeps them quiet for more than five minutes and it's good for their teeth. Oh the lows. Gone are the long day trips: you have to get back for the dog. Gone are the duvet days when you surface past noon: you have to get up/out for the dog.
You will smell. The reed diffusers, heady plug ins, magic trees and body sprays can't save you. No matter how meticulous you are, non doggy owners have you rumbled; your house, your children, your soft furnishings: you all smell, albeit ever so slightly, of dog. Ours is a 'low odour, non shedding' breed. Ha! Pretty much all dogs smell the same when they roll in poo or take a spin through the local quagmire. You wash them, then they smell of wet dog. Yum.
You know what is coming. You see, despite the above and all that remains unsaid, having a puppy brings joy beyond measure. If everyone in the home is sold on the idea - teamwork makes the dream work after all - a dog can truly enrich family life. Dog ownership teaches everyone lessons in responsibility, selflessness, dedication and patience. In return you gain absolute, unconditional love.
A dog gifts your household time, reapportioned. Time together with a common interest, time with the earth beneath your feet, time with your thoughts. Plus, in the eight months we've had our Vizsla, we've gone to beaches, woods, campsites, pubs and valleys but not one soft play centre. Not one. That alone makes it all worthwhile.