Yes…I got a dog. I swore I would never get a dog because we all know what happens when your children/ husband/significant other promises to walk and feed the dog. I didn’t have time to take care of a dog. I also don’t do anything unless it’s well planned and researched. My life is predictable. And then we got Charly.
It was the day after Hurricane Sandy struck, and my family was lucky enough to be unaffected. In fact, we were all getting a little stir crazy. So, my husband decided to take our children for a walk to the bookstore. When the bookstore was closed, they ended up at a local pet store, and that’s when the unexpected happened.
My husband called to see if I wanted to meet at the pet store. I don’t know why I said yes, since I clearly wasn’t getting a dog. Yet, thirty minutes later, I was at the pet store. My husband pointed out one dog whose eyes followed him wherever he went. She was a small white, fluffy Havanese. When we held her, we could tell she was skittish. At 5 months old, she had missed important socialization milestones by being in a pet store cage for so long. But, sometimes, the dog chooses you, and this dog had chosen my husband. He couldn’t turn away from her. And then, they both looked at me. I said, “Do what you want, but remember this is ‘your’ dog.” He was so surprised that I didn’t say no, that things started happening at warp speed. She was named (Charly), and all the things Charly would “need” were heaped on the counter: safety gates, a dog bed, a dog carrier, grooming supplies, food, bones, and toys. Meanwhile, I was getting heart palpitations as I wondered where I would store everything.
It felt surreal when we got back to our house with a puppy in tow. It was decided that she would be gated in the kitchen, so that was where I would store her gear. I designated one place for Charly’s leash, collar, wipes, and small toys and another place for Charly’s food and snacks. We placed her crate in the kitchen along with her “wee wee pads”. And then, we began to get to know each other. Now, two months later, we are all madly in love with Charly. My husband comes home from work to have lunch with her. My children can’t wait to walk in the door after a long day to see how excited she is to see them. And, I spend hours a day grooming and talking to her (strangely therapeutic). She sits under my desk at night and naps while I work, and I can’t imagine life without her. So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, I couldn’t recommend it more. But learn from my experience and consider these helpful tips before bringing any pet home.
- Determine which parts of your home the pet will be able to access. Will you need a gate or gates to confine the pet to certain areas? Where will the pet sleep? Will s/he need a bed or a crate? Where will the bed or crate be placed?
- Where will you store pet supplies? For a dog, you’ll need a leash and waste bags which should be kept near the door. You’ll also need grooming supplies, and toys. Store these where you’ll use them.
- Pet proof your home. Get on your hands and knees and look for things that could be dangerous if your pet chewed or swallowed them (e.g., computer wires or cords, electronic items). You may need to install child safety locks on low cabinets to make sure your pet can’t get to what’s inside. Also take note of any window treatments with log cords or tassels that could become strangulation hazards.
- Corral toys in a baskets or bins in various rooms of your house. Then, you can quickly put them away (or train your pet to put them away) when guests are visiting.
- Determine where you’ll keep your pet’s food and water. Consider purchasing a non-slide mat to keep spills to a minimum.
- Create a file for your pet that includes important information such as vaccinations, health record, microchip information, license, and pedigree.
- Just like babies, pets thrive on routine. Figure out when it makes sense to feed and exercise the pet and who will be responsible. Negotiate all of this before bringing the pet home.
- Add all important vaccinations and medication schedules to your master calendar.
- Have a plan in place for when you’ll be out of town. Is there someone who can come to your home to care for your pet? Will s/he need to be boarded? Where will that be?
- A pet can make your life so much richer, so enjoy every minute!