**Disclaimer: If you do not have the time or finances to support a puppy through its entire life – do NOT get a dog. This post isn’t to suggest that puppies are easy or anyone can do it – I treat my dog like my daughter and I shudder when I hear of dogs left alone for hours and hours at a time regularly or medical concerns overlooked because a vet bill is too much. Puppies are lots of work and cost lots of money to support – you are their main caretaker and they depend on you for everything.
I spent much of Christmas 2015 researching breeders and annoying my family talking about my future smushy-faced puppy. Everyone played devil’s advocate, as they should have, about why getting a puppy was a bad choice. I had several reasons to wait:
- I was still getting on my feet since graduating from college
- My boyfriend was 3 months out from departing on a 6 month deployment
- I travel a lot, back and forth between Savannah and Boston and also my job at the time was for a travel company
… and the list could go on.
Despite the valid arguments, I did it anyway. I found a puppy available at a breeder in TN, I begged and begged Connor (who also wanted a smushy-face puppy), and then I paid for her. We picked her up end of January 2016.
The first night at home I slept on the floor next to the crate so she wouldn’t cry. Several times in the night I woke up to her shitting in the crate inches away from my face. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep and I piled up two loads of laundry in an 8 hour span. I spent the next day wondering to myself, “what on earth did I do?” and concluding that I should have listened to all of the words of caution from friends and family.
However, the nights got easier from there on out. With care, training, money, and patience Bean grew into a phenomenal dog and I gained more from the experience than I could have otherwise.
- I started waking up happy.
At the time I was working in a job that I hated, I was insecure, and I was fighting depression that I thought I’d gotten on top of. But with Bean I woke up every morning and had no choice but to get up and go outside first thing. Waking up early, breathing the fresh air, getting some exercise, and being greeted by the happiest, most in-the-moment creature on earth made me truly wake up happy and excited.
- I had a buddy throughout my boyfriend’s second deployment.
I had an easy topic of conversation with him through the distance. We could connect over funny pictures of her, stories about her progress, and I was never alone in our apartment.
- I grew up.
When I got Bean I was newly 24 and very much still trying to be a college kid. Having to be more responsible with finances, time management, and care for a living being forced me to grow up. I had to finally embrace that the regression into childhood I have forever longed for was not happening. Caring for Bean taught me that, and my growth manifested in a strengthened relationship, a better career trajectory, and stability that I desperately needed.
- I’m better at talking to people.
It’s impossible to walk around downtown (or literally anywhere) with an adorable puppy and not have strangers bombard you with questions and requests to pet your dog. This is great socialization for the dog to get used to new people, faces, voices, and smells.This was also great socialization for, well, me! This served as excellent practice in talking to people – and practice is the best way to improve. I no longer get sweaty when talking to strangers, I make eye contact, and I carry myself more confidently.
So, if you can afford the time and monetary cost of owning a dog for its whole life, if it’s something you’ve been considering for a long time, if you wake up feeling like something is missing – GO FOR IT! It may just be the best decision you ever make.