Growing up, I always wanted a pet but couldn’t because of my father’s supposed allergies. So when my husband suggested we get a dog, I immediately jumped at the idea. We were really excited to have a cute little puppy to play with and also thought it would give us a taste of what it would be like to one day have a kid. (Um, wrong.) As luck would have it, my husband had a friend who was moving to an apartment where pets were prohibited, and before we knew it, we were bringing home our very own fluffy cock-a-poo.
We figured the adjustment would be easy. After all, the puppy was already trained, so it was really just a matter of getting him used to his new surroundings, right? Not so much.
During those first few weeks, our dog transformed our entire house into his personal urinal. Every time I turned around it seemed like there was yet another corner that suddenly reeked of pee.
We went back and forth on where the dog should sleep — our room versus a crate downstairs — and one night decided to let him share our bed. The next morning, we both woke up to wet feet. At first we figured the dog had just licked us affectionately while we were sleeping, but once we realized it was in fact urine between our toes, we had to quickly rethink our sleeping arrangements.
Leaving for work in the morning was also an ordeal. Every day I’d head out to the sound of the dog crying, and while it was great coming home to a happy, excited pup, it was not so great coming home to dog poop all over the floor.
Eventually things settled down and we got used to life with our yappy little dog. But we learned some valuable lessons along the way:
Make sure you can really afford a pet before you get one. We have a small dog but still spend $300 a year on food and treats, plus another $400 a year on pet meds and annual checkups. On top of that, we spend about $400 a year getting him shaved and groomed (which, incidentally, is way more than we spend on our own haircuts). The ASPCA has a breakdown of average pet care costs that any potential pet owner should look at.
Pet care can be time-consuming. We knew we’d have to walk the dog on a regular basis, but didn’t realize how much time we’d spend brushing his teeth, bathing him and cutting his nails.
Pets take up space, and they can mess up your space. Sure, you can stick a small fish tank in the corner and call it a day, but if you get a dog or a cat, you’ll need room for your pet to roam around. That also means you can’t rule out the possibility of your cat scratching up your beloved couch cushions, or your dog vomiting all over your area rug.
You’ll have less freedom once you get a pet. Once we adopted our dog, going away got tougher. We had to travel for several weddings that first summer and each time faced the dilemma of whether to board our dog at a kennel or beg someone to temporarily take him in. The few times we did attempt to travel with our dog, we faced major restrictions, as most hotels either don’t allow pets or charge a premium to bring one.
Despite the costs involved and challenges we’ve faced since getting our dog, we’re really happy we did. Besides, what’s a little hard work in the grand scheme of unwavering loyalty and unconditional love?