Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Pros and Cons of Having a Dog (especially when you're young)

I haven't mentioned Tallulah on the blog much recently, but I assure you, she is still priority one in our house. Thankfully, we've moved well past the destroying inappropriate things stage (except at my parents house, but that's a different story) and we've settled into a very manageable routine.  She's still a giant weirdo about food and is terrified of the sounds of drawers closing, but has mellowed about a lot of her more annoying behaviors and is fabulous off leash.  I've had a few people ask me recently whether or not I would recommend getting a dog young (I was 21 when I got her) and so I figured I'd go over the pros and cons!

PS It's her 2nd birthday as I write this, so the pictures are my favorite over the last two years!


1 Um, dogs are great

This is probably the most obvious - dogs totally rock.  They're fun and cute and sweet and excellent vacuum cleaners.  As someone who grew up with dogs, I can't really imagine not coming how to one every day, which is why Lula came home to me so quickly.  I get way more exercise because I have her, and have explored the local area way more because of her (allllll the hiking)

2 Prioritization

This one is a little more of a mix of pro and con, but 2 years in, I feel mostly positive about it.  Tallulah has forced me to consider things other than my own needs when making a budget, which can be hard for a young professional to learn. She needs food, vet care, daycare, boarding etc, and I can't not budget for those things.  I had to learn early on to say no to the 4th Amazon order in 8 days because that money was needed elsewhere. That mentality has also helped me start savings goals for travel, gifts, etc.

3 Companionship

My job is unique, in that I live and work in the same community, with students and adults whose needs can be pretty high. Coming home to someone who wants a pretty basic list of things, and who doesn't ever yell at me or call me the worst is pretty awesome.  There's a lot of scientific research that indicates that pets are enormous stress relievers, and I can absolutely attest to that. Tallulah's also a fabulous excuse to be done working on time, or say no to commitments I can't quite handle, time wise.


1 Cost

Tallulah cost me somewhere around 5000 dollars the first year I had her, including food, vet costs, surgery, training, toys etc.  I didn't quite imagine it would be that high, and while I could handle it, it required a lot of other sacrificies.  Costs have been lower in the second year, but it still works out to be about 50 dollars a week, plus the occasional boarding costs. Not insignificant by any means.

2 Lack of Flexibility

I can't just take off for a weekend trip, or decide to go out right then, or stay in bed all day on a rainy Sunday.  I need to make boarding appointments, long walks and figure out how to keep a dog occupied when she's morally opposed to getting wet.  My next job (and, likely, all of them), will require dog friendly housing and a relatively flexible schedule. I'm really grateful for my parents support with managing T, but she definitely still puts limits on my spontaneity.

3 Time Commitment

On average, Tallulah gets about 2 hours worth of walks per day (we don't have a yard, so every bathroom break is a walk), and it was about double that when she was puppy.  Then there's training, puppy classes, driving her to daycare/grooming/vet. You get it.  Dogs take up time, and her needs come first-ish for me. Now that's she's older, she can wait for longer before she gets taken out, but still, I arrange my time to make sure she's comfortable and taken care of, and that trumps my wants.

Overall, I absolutely stand my decision to get her - she's my family and has made my job and life way easier for me to manage. If you work in a similar situation (walking distance to home, boss that's great about being flexible with time), I would say go for it.  If, however, the time or cost seems intense, wait. Dogs are a huge commitment, don't jump in unless you're absolutely sure you're ready. And please, adopt, don't shop.

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