So, you think you like dogs? They’re cute fluffy bundles of endless fun, aren’t they? Well, read on and you may change your mind…
It is often said ‘a dog is for life not just for Christmas’ and this is absolutely true. But there are many things which should be taken into consideration before you decide to bring a new canine friend into your home. Once the child-bearing years are done and dusted, it’s all too tempting to get a dog to complete your household. With fervent, but soon forgotten, declarations from your offspring to care for, walk and feed them.
Firstly, a dog needs walking every day, not just when you feel like it. Obviously, larger dogs need more frequent and stimulating walks than smaller breeds, but they all need their daily dose of exercise – whatever the weather. You may think this is a good thing, the perfect excuse to force you into shifting yourself off the sofa and out into the great outdoors. So, not only will the dog get his exercise, but you will too. We all know it’s too easy to sit scrolling on your phone for hours or get lost in the latest Netflix binge-worthy blockbuster, so a dog is the ideal solution surely?
Firstly, dog walking turns you into an incessant weather watching bore. You are constantly looking ahead at the forecast in order to choose the optimum time to take out your faithful friend (you will also find yourself cursing when they get it wrong for the umpteenth time). During the summer it’s crucial to take your dog out at a time when it’s not too hot and the pavement may burn their paws. Early morning is usually the best time, as even by 9am on a hot summer day it may be too hot to take your pooch for his daily constitutional. It can also stay hot until quite late into the evening, and if you had an early walk, your dog would also need a late evening one to ‘do his business’ as well.
Then you have the winter walking. If it’s freezing cold you will find yourself frequently fumbling around with your gloves while trying to keep holding onto the lead, whilst also scooping up the poop, as your pooch is trying to drag you on. You may avoid taking off your gloves to prevent the warmth inside evaporating in an instant. But then if it’s windy, the bag will flap around your fingers as you desperately try to avoid getting poo on your hand or glove. After you’ve scooped the poop, you’ll find yourself trying to tie up the stinky bag (at arm’s length to avoid the disgusting stench) ready to deposit in the nearest poo–bin. At this point your dog may have other ideas and be trying his hardest to drag you onwards, while you’re still stood faffing.
Then you have the rain to contend with. You may think you’ve prepared yourself well beforehand, wearing (almost as if you were in disguise) a raincoat, gloves, a hat and sunglasses to shield the rain and wind from your eyes. But there’s nothing worse than the stinging needles of icy rain on your face, while your nose and eyes stream from the biting cold. I’ve often been tempted to walk with a tissue bunging up each nostril to stem the flow – if only it weren’t such an unattractive look and might provoke people out walking into thinking I was having a nosebleed, or have escaped from the nearest doolally institution.
Then you have grooming issues. Dogs smell. There is no escaping the fact, and no matter how many times you bath and brush your beloved buddy, you will still be able to smell the stinky creature before you see him walk into the room. And wet dog smells disgusting! Then there’s the shaking. Dogs cannot help themselves – they shake at every opportunity, as though their life depends on it, and clouds of dust and fur fill the air. Despite regular hoovering, it’s impossible to get rid of the fur completely, and to make matters worse it really blocks up the hoover and makes that stink too. You may also (like me) be unlucky and get a dog who hates the car, and cleaning out dog vomit from the boot of my car has to be my least favourite thing to do in the entire world.
From the very first day you bring your faithful friend into your home, you have instantly become their feeder, and they will follow you around the house as though you were the Pied Piper, expecting to be fed. Constantly. Even when they have just been fed, they appear to have the memory span of a goldfish and forget within seconds of eating. Before you can finish washing the fork, pleading eyes are looking up at you begging the question ‘Is it dinnertime yet mum?’.
So, please take all these things into consideration, and only then if you still reach the conclusion that you love dogs no matter what, and considerably more than you hate wind, rain, poo and stink – then go ahead. I know of a raggedly, loveable 6 year-old stinker going cheap…..