Got a puppy? Congratulations! You've just agreed to a long-term relationship, and one you'll need to nurture and take responsibility for over the next 12-plus years.
Like lots of animal lovers, I was pretty frustrated to read in today's Daily Mail that columnist Shona Sibary had given up four dogs in four years, and not through sad change of circumstance, but because - from the sounds of it - they were too much like hard work.
At pet charity Blue Cross, we take in and care for thousands of unwanted and abandoned dogs every year. Dogs aren't human, but they do ache over rejection. Those who have been given up multiple times often suffer from issues such as separation anxiety, where they struggle to be left on their own, and need a huge amount of help to regain their confidence.
It should go without saying that taking on a puppy is a massive commitment and caring for one extremely hard work.
Young dogs require a lot of time and training to make sure they grow up into happy, healthy pets.
Anyone thinking of getting a dog needs to do their research and get a breed that's right for them and should never buy a pet on a whim.
Do your homework
Of course, what's not to love about the idea of getting a dog? Joyous welcomes each time you walk through the door, the opportunity to explore and enjoy the great outdoors, and unconditional love - it's tempting to just about everyone.
And puppies? There's not many things cuter than a bundle of fluff tripping over gangly legs.
Many love the idea of getting a pup, but the reality isn't as rosy for all. If you're house-proud and don't think you're likely to change, think long and hard about whether a dog is the right pet for you.
Dogs moult (hypoallergenic dog breed? There's no such thing), they bark at the door, they jump up, they get mucky (this muck will stick to your carpet), they dig, they slobber, they have accidents inside the house on occasion. They do these things not to annoy you, but because they are dogs.
Dogs are hard work - anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
When things go wrong
Of course, it doesn't always work out. Relationships break down and circumstances change - that's life.
Even when loving owners try their very hardest to keep their pets, there are reasons why it simply can't work.
If you do find yourself needing to give up an animal, don't sell them online to the highest bidder. Contact a rehoming organisation like Blue Cross for help and advice, without judgement.
And if, despite the threat of a re-landscaped garden you didn't plan for, you are ready to commit to the long-term commitment of dog ownership, please visit your local rescue centre.
There are dogs out there ready and waiting for someone to love them, and they will thank you for it tenfold.Suggest a correction