I'm a big fan of the Today Show and watch it religiously each morning as I'm getting ready for work. They recently added a new "cast member" named Wrangler, who is a sweet yellow lab that is in training to become a seeing eye dog. Naturally, Today has been doing more features on dogs and how to know when you're ready for one, whether to adopt or buy from a breeder, how to care for a dog, etc.
My wheels started spinning this morning because the topic was how to know when you're ready for a dog. I will be honest and say that I don't know that Josh and I we're 100% ready when we got Murphy. Only because we had planned to wait until the spring after we got married to get a dog, but instead adopted Murphy in October, just a month into marriage...I really had to do some sweet talking to bring that buddy home;) I found Murphy on our local animal shelters website and fell IN LOVE the moment I saw his picture. Josh and I set up an appointment to meet him on a Friday and adopted him on Sunday.
What we did on Saturday is the most important part. We researched, looked at our budget and income and did our best guesstimate to think how much a dog would cost each month/year, and once we came to the conclusion we were going to go back and adopt him, we went to the pet store and stocked up on everything we needed for him.
I think far too many people like the idea of a dog, but don't truly evaluate their situation for getting one. Some extremely important things to keep in mind before getting a dog (or any pet):
1. Does your work schedule allow for you to spend adequate time with your dog.
Many people work crazy hours, I know that I'm one of those people. But it is vital to make time for your dog. Taking them to the park, vet, to obedience classes, to socialize with other dogs...it's all so important. One thing I'm always reminded myself of is that Josh and I are Murphy's life line, he depends on us for everything. So we can't leave him in the house and never take him out for exercise and expect him to not be hyper, we can't leave for hours or days at a time without a plan to have him fed and kept on a consistent schedule, they are completely dependent on their owners and it's only right to make sure you have the time to dedicate to your fury pal. Each week we look at our schedule and the weather and try to figure out a few times that we can get Murphy to the park. If we have a week that is extremely busy we make sure to take him in the front yard, or go in the back yard with him, and facilitate play time so that he can burn some energy off...even if we look like crazy people running in circles in the front yard chasing our dog...anything for the Murph.
2. Prepare your home before bringing your dog in.
We went and got a bed, toys, blankets, water bowl, food bowl, leash, collar, harness, and researched what vet we would take Murphy to before we ever brought him home. Bringing your dog home for the first time is going to be difficult on your dog, so do whatever you can to make the transition as easy as possible. Give them their own space and give them things that are solely theirs, such as toys. We also put away things we thought he might be likely to tear up when first bringing him home. Set your dog up for success, it will be easier on both of you!
3. Have a money plan.
As soon as Murphy became a Colvin, we started putting money away in our savings account for any expenses that may occur concerning him. (Little did we know the fiasco we'd have just two months after having him with his fudge eating on Christmas day...I can safely say we hadn't put quite $1,500 in our savings account solely for Murphy before our first emergency vet visit, ha!) There are so many times when things are come up unexpectedly with your dog that you'll most likely need an astronomical amount of money to cover. I always prepare myself before his annual vet visit, because I can almost always guarantee we're going to rack up a pretty big bill. It's also good to do as much research on your dog as you can beforehand to know of any illness or condition they may have. For example, Murphy has terrible, and I do mean terrible skin. He also has pretty nasty allergies, the little guys nose is always running. So we know we will more than likely have to make a visit or two to the vet in between his yearly appointments to get his skin under control, which of course includes needing of number of medicines and ointments. But we knew that when we adopted him...poor guy has some gnarly looking fur when we adopted him ;) Did I mention that Murphy is also allergic to fleas, so ONE...literally one flea bite sends him into pandemonium and all of his fur practically falls out...and you guessed it, that always requires a trip to the vet. Also remember that things like heart worm medicine and flea medicine are needed monthly, so you to need to budget for those things. And if your dog is like Murphy and needs fancy food and six hundred vitamins a day, more money needs to be budgeted.
4. Have a vacation plan.
I think my biggest worry when we got Murphy was leaving him to go on vacation. We've got our fingers crossed he can take a beach trip with us this summer, but there are always time that we have to leave him. If you know Murphy, you know that he's not a huge fan of anyone coming in the house when we're not there, even if he knows them. So we have an automated feeder (that we did tons of research on, so important!) that feeds him while we're gone and we put out a massive water bowl. We also put away things in the house that he might want to tear up after he's been alone for awhile, and we set up the living room as dog friendly as possible. We put his blankets out and make sure all of his toys are out and that he can get to them. We really hope he gets to the point that he's very comfortable with my parents coming over and they can take him out for walks while we're gone, but for now we're doing well with having them coming over once a day while we're gone just to check on the buddy.
5. Take time for your dog and shower them with love.
I'll be the first to admit that Josh and I are certified crazy dog people...I mean, we washed our cars yesterday and drug Murphy's huge bed onto the front porch so that he could lay in his bed and be outside with us. We both really love that dog of ours. If you take anything from any of these tips, just make sure to spend time with your dog, give them attention, scold them when its necessary but praise them when they do something good. Please don't adopt or buy a dog if you're just going to leave it in a fence, or chained up or in a cage all the time. These animals depend on you for love and for attention, so give it to them. Sure, Murphy is so spoiled it's not even funny, but to know that we can give him a home outside of the shelter and he can be loved and take endless trips to the park, makes my heart sing.
I think it's fairly obvious after this post that I am a total dog lover and would love to give every dog in the world a happy home :) Unfortunately, that is not the case, so instead I just pep talk everyone I know into adopting and being prepared when they do decide to get a pet.
I hope everyone has a great Monday! My Pandora is set to the John Mayer station and it's nice and sunny outside, let's keep our fingers crossed it's the combination for a solid start to the week!