Think before you hop on the dog train

Despite their standoffishness and emotional distance (some might call it “pensiveness”), along with evil plotting and random swatting from dark corners, cats have grown on me over the years. Now, don’t get into a tizzy, cat people. I’m not trying to start a war, here. But I have to say, I’ve always been of the canine persuasion. Dogs have taken care of me when I’ve been sick, they’ve come to my side when I’ve been sad, and they’ve protected me when I’ve needed it most. The cats I’ve known, on the other hand, have been like, “um yeah, when you’re done sulking and crying about your stupid boyfriend, my belly could use a wee scratch. Oh, and my dish is empty.”

Every since my family had to put down our beloved “Moosie” (a loving and loyal, but rather boisterous, mutt) a few years back, I’ve wanted to get my own dog pretty much more than anything else in the whole world.

And there have been several people out there who have caught onto my love of dogs. They’ve tried with all their might to convince me to adopt one. A friend of mine even brought a box full of squishy puppies looking for homes to a meeting recently. The runt of the litter snuggled into the crook of my neck and it pained me to detach her tiny paws from my sweater when it was time for her to leave.

I know it seems like a bit of contradiction, but because I love dogs SO MUCH, I’ve so far declined all offers to adopt one.

Let me explain.

Between 2002 and 2012, I basically lived out of a suitcase. I moved from city to town, across borders, and overseas. During most of that time, I was broke and could hardly scrounge up the few bucks required to feed myself everyday. Right now I’m staying with my parents, waiting for the renovations on my own house to make into an actual habitable space. On top of that, I’m busy, busy, busy and trying to save money.

I’ve thought it through time and time again, but I’ve decided with the lifestyle I lead, there is no way I could care for a dog the way it deserves.

But sadly, I think there are far too many people who adopt dogs on impulse, like they’re shopping for a pair of boots they can just send back if they don’t work out.

In the Red Lake area alone, I’ve heard countless stories about people accepting puppies or dogs into their lives only to turn around and try to get rid of them again. The list of reasons and excuses is endless.

If your puppy’s mother was a German Shepherd and the father was a Rottweiler, saying, “I had no idea he would get so big!” is about the lamest excuse in the book. If your husband or wife hates fur yet you opt for a shaggy, white dog, get a better vacuum. If you know you don’t have time to run your dog everyday or aren’t dedicated enough to keep its brain active, then research the breed beforehand and certainly don’ choose a Border Collie. And if you know you have an allergy to dogs, don’t “test it out” anyway. Suck it up and get a goldfish. And don’t assume your parents, neighbour, best friend, or co-worker are going to be able to step up to the plate and take the dog off your hands either.

It’s no secret that there are already lots of dogs in our area, and that there are many, many more coming into town all the time that need homes. The temptation to adopt one can be overwhelming. I know, because I’ve certainly experienced it myself (Just for the record: I’m not referring to animal foster homes here since the very idea of a foster home is that it’s temporary).

But please remember:

Taking on a dog because you feel you can give it a better life than it’s had or would’ve otherwise had, then passing it off when it becomes a burden, is not doing the dog any favours. Dogs are not toys. They are living, breathing creatures that incur many extra expenses and need to be properly exercised and loved. And if they’re in good health, they’ll likely be with you for a decade at least. Do you have what it takes to make that commitment?

(Regardless of my blatant preference for dogs, please think it through before you adopt any animal).

Lindsay Briscoe

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