Falling in Love

Falling in Love

Food and water requirements seem simple. A reliable breeder will inform you about amounts and how often to feed that growling tummy. Yet it's not only quantity, but quality that counts. Nutritious food is as important to your dog's well-being as it is to yours. No generics or leftover scraps for this prince of a dog!

Your dog needs regular exercise to stay in good condition, as well as urinate and defecate. If no fenced area is available, an on-leash walk is necessary several times a day, as is a leg-stretching romp in a safe area or on a flexible leash at least once a week.

Adequate shelter is necessary for protection from the elements. Your dog will want private moments just as people do, and will seek a protected place for sleeping. Animals in the wild seek a cave or den; a modern dog is content with an individual house, bed or crate.

Even a healthy dog needs regular inoculations and examinations to help prevent serious disease. A responsible owner provides preventive as well as emergency and regular veterinary care.

Sad rescue situations show that animals, like people, can live without some of these necessities for a short period of time. But they do not thrive. Dogs always want your attention, approval and assurance.

You also have to live with the animal, and chances are you'll be responsible for the care at times. The parent who grudgingly buys a dog to teach a child responsibility is in for a shock. Parents who believe Melissa when she promises she will take care of the pup need to be prepared for reality. What about the remote-controlled car you gave Junior last Christmas? Is he still enjoying it as he did in the beginning? Is the doll Melissa begged for now headless in the sandbox? Should children not live up to their part of the bargain or a spouse take a new job with extended traveling, you can't just cancel a subscription. Like the introductory quote from Allegheny, dogs are "so warm in the hand." You can't stick them in the back of the closet like a pair of outgrown jeans; they still need love and care. Your dog is going to be around for a number of years.

Thought beforehand saves pain later for everyone. Sometimes the answer is not a dog at all. Maybe it's a cat... or a stuffed animal.

Dogs are always there when you need them. No matter if a child can't leave the house, she always has a friend. If you lose your job, your pup won't yell at you. If your children fail a test, their dog still looks up to them.

But, is this the right time to have a dog? Even lifelong dog lovers should face the fact that their circumstances might have changed in regard to finances, living quarters or leisure time. Perhaps we can still manage a dog, but we should bear these changes in mind. A smaller or less energetic breed might do, or maybe we should skip over the adorable but demanding puppy and consider an adult.

An older dog is usually house broken, is done teething and is able to stay alone for longer periods of time. Breeders occasionally have an older puppy or dog that didn't turn out to be the show star they'd hoped for, or that just needs a one-dog home. Sometimes an adult is available to a suitable home to enjoy years in blissful retirement. This might be a Champion, Obedience titled dog or former brood matron; often this gem is trained. Many fanciers also participate in purebred rescue, saving dogs from sure death or lives of misery. Now and then breeders know of a dog available due to an owner's death or change of circumstances.

Dogs are love money can buy Even the one given to you by a puppy-laden neighbor costs money. The free dog is not always the most reasonable. No matter what the initial purchase price, a medium-sized (about forty pounds) dog costs about $500—or more—a year to maintain:

  • About $150 of quality dog food;
  • Dog licenses run from $5;
  • Basic vet care costs at least $ 150 for exams, vaccinations, flea control and heartworm prevention;
  • Of course, a larger dog eats more food and requires a larger dose of heartworm preventative;
  • If professional grooming is needed, add another $150-plus per year;
  • To begin with, you'll need to buy supplies such as a collar, leash, bowls and housing;
  • Other smart investments include a training class and fencing the yard or an exercise area.

Prices for purebred pups vary, depending on the breed. Most people, when considering their first purchase of a dog, are interested only in a pet and companion. A show prospect may be more expensive.

For people who are afraid of dogs, owning one will change their view forever. But it's best to make friends with someone else's dog first, rather than buying a cuddly pup on impulse. Walk a friend's dog, offer to dogsit for a weekend, or exercise and water your neighbor's new pup while she's at work. Most people find their fear was caused by a particular dog, not all canines.

When you've considered all these things and have decided the time and expense are worth the companionship and devotion, let yourself go. Fall in love!