The Pros & Cons Of Dog Ownership

For those of you considering getting a dog, I put a list together of the best and worst parts of owning one. Let’s start with the bad parts first.

Cons

1. Poop

If you are the type of person who is entirely grossed out by the concept of poop, unless you can afford to hire someone to clean it up for you, don’t get a dog.

Dogs poop. It’s what they do. Everybody poops. It’s your job to clean it up. It gets to the point where, based on the position of their tail, you can tell when your dog is going to poop. You are now a poop master. Congratulations.

2. Attention.

Dogs require a lot of it. As I’ve said before: Having a puppy is “like having a toddler who never really grows up that you can stow in a cage when you leave the house.” Forget about spontaneously going out of town for the weekend. Forget about running errands after work. These things can’t really happen with a dog. You have to plan ahead.

3. Maintenance.

Depending on the dog, maintenance may vary. Smooth-coat dogs don’t require brushing, whereas plush-coat dogs very much do. Still, they all need their nails clipped from time to time and the occasional bath and dental cleaning.

They also need doctors. In two and a half years, my dog has been to the doctor three times more than I have, which is to say, she’s been to the vet three times and I need to take her in soon for her booster shots. Fortunately, I have an excellent vet who doesn’t charge a ton, but it’s still an expense.

4. Dogs have a lot of stuff.

When you first get a dog, you’re not just getting a dog. You also have to get toys, food, treats, bowls, poop receptacles, leashes, collars, car seat covers (if your dog gets as dirty as mine), flea drops, shampoo, etc. Dogs have a lot of stuff and you have to buy it all.

All of that stuff, including the dog, has to fit somewhere in your house. I made the mistake of allowing my dog to sleep on my bed when she was little. Then she got big and became a gangly bed hog. If you get a dog, buy them their own bed. Trust me.

Most of the items dogs need (e.g. poop bags) don’t vary depending on the size of the dog, but some things do. I would imagine that feeding an eight pound dog would be considerably cheaper than feeding my 70 lb. monster.

Granted, you could feed your dog cheap, crappy dog food, but in my experience, cheap dog food will just cost you more in veterinary bills. Plus, cheap dog food makes them fart. It’s really best to avoid dog farts when possible.

5. Walking them.

If you don’t have a yard, you have to walk them. Even if you have a yard, they still need exercise and socialization. There’s a hurricane, typhoon, blizzard? Too bad. Your dog still needs to poop. You have a cold, dysentery, a broken foot? Oh well, get out there. Your dog needs exercise.

I had a migraine a few weeks ago and I had to walk my dog in the blinding sunlight, which is the exact opposite of what you need when you have a migraine. I threw up outside instead of in the comfort of my bathroom. Good times.

6. Sleep schedules.

Dogs have no concept of time or days of the week. Well, that’s not exactly true. They do understand time. They know when it’s time to be fed, go for a walk or to the dog park, but it doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to us.

The weekend means nothing to them. Daylight saving time means nothing to them. They don’t understand sleeping in. Dogs will wake you up whenever you normally get up, regardless of when you went to bed or what the time is.

My dog woke me up at 7:30 this morning like she always does, even though I couldn’t actually fall asleep until nearly 4 am.

Pros

1. Dogs are empathetic.

They know when you’ve had a bad day or you’re not feeling well. They can read your face better than another human can. They are completely in tune with you and they want to make you happy. They are dependent on us for everything, even their moods. If you are unhappy, so are they. Dogs make it their job to cheer us up and comfort us, even if all they can do is sympathize.

2. They are incredibly loyal.

Your dog will never judge you. Your dog doesn’t care whether you’ve gained a few pounds, cheated on your girlfriend or are just generally a public nuisance. If you are their person, they will love you no matter what. They will protect you. They will try to comfort you. They will do everything in their power to make you happy, which actually makes you a better person.

Unfortunately, their loyalty is also what makes it so easy for terrible humans to take advantage, abuse, neglect or train them to kill. They are loyal even to their own detriment.

3. They are always happy to see you.

My favorite part of any day is walking into my house and being greeted by my dog. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve been gone ten minutes or ten hours, she is always happy to see me. No matter what. That tail wagging at the end of the day is absolutely priceless and irreplaceable.

4. You are never alone.

There have been times in my life where I have felt completely alone and isolated. There have been times that I’ve been so totally lost that I’ve considered ending it. You can’t do that with a dog. They won’t let you. They will sense that you are down and come to you with their ears back and tail gently wagging, and make you feel not so alone. They will save your life.

5. You fall completely in love with them.

And they with you. You are now living with your best friend. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a jerk. It doesn’t matter if you are. You can’t help but love them. My dog is by biggest fan. I can do no wrong in her eyes.

6. You get to have a dog.

If you decide to get a dog, congratulations. You have just gotten a companion, best friend, cheerleader, therapist and constant source of entertainment. Dogs might be frustrating (especially as puppies), expensive and time-consuming, but they will completely change your life for the better.

Dogs are free from human restraints like jealousy and pride. They are blind to physical traits like color, beauty and weight. They never lie. They give unselfishly. They receive gratefully. They forgive immediately. They trust completely. They live joyfully. They love absolutely unconditionally.

What they take from us doesn’t even come close to the intangibles that they give us. They give their entire lives to us. I would give all the money I have, I will endure all the poop, inconvenience and frustration in the world for that. My dog has quite literally saved my life.

IMAG0154

This is what a hero looks like. Dirty nose and all.

Please, don’t abuse that trust they give us so readily. Don’t beat, abuse, neglect or otherwise mistreat a dog. Getting a dog is a big responsibility, so don’t get one if you’re not ready to take that on, but if you are up to the challenge, your dog will make you feel like the king of the universe.

If you decide to get a dog, please, consider adopting from your local shelter. There are so many great dogs that need homes.

There are 58 comments

  1. ScorpionGlow

    She’s gorgeous. I’m going to stick with cats though. Their vet bills are enough to give me a stroke. Actually, there are now places that do low-cost shots for cats and dogs, which you might want to look into. I was surprised, but it’s the exact same stuff, they just do more of the vaccinations than most places and they don’t want people to abandon their animals due to finances. It’s a win-win if you can find one. Lord knows a great many of us are going through difficult, shitty times.

    Like

    1. goldfish

      Yeah, it seems as though taking a cat to the vet should be cheaper than a dog, but it isn’t. And I have one of each.

      My vet will probably charge me $40 for the boosters, which isn’t bad and he’ll do a thorough exam of her while she’s there. I like and trust my vet. He’s the one who put my 17 year old cat to sleep and handled it with great aplomb. That sold me. Any vet who can navigate the end of a pet’s life with dignity and courtesy is a good vet in my opinion.

      Like

      1. ScorpionGlow

        I know it’s not cheaper per se, especially not when they have a health issue. I inquired about all the insurance they’re pushing for pets and I have yet to decide if I’m going to do it or not. The last time around it was unavailable, but here I am thinking that $40 a month for two kittens is pretty reasonable in terms of check-ups and routine stuff. Having once paid for a radioactive iodine treatment out of pocket, which was like two months of my mortgage, and then paying for a cardiologist afterwards, I’d like never to do that again, though I can honestly say it was worth every penny to save her life and keep her with me for that additional time. In general I think we all spend more on our pets than we will spend on ourselves nine times out of ten. I’ll go without something if it’s for one of my furry people.

        Boosters obviously range quite a bit from city to city. I know they’re more expensive here at certain places, and the low-cost place is charging $15 for what is normally a $40-$65 shot at my vet’s office. I get charged $65 for an exam when I walk in, so it adds up FAST if there’s blood work or anything additional. They have these packages, so it’s usually $300 the first time around. I cringe every single time, thinking about what I could be doing with that money.

        I’m very attached to my vet too. She’s amazing, and I feel blessed to have her because she’s incredibly smart and is open to new forms of treatment. She adored my little girl, she’s so gentle, she listens, she doesn’t dismiss you, and when my cat passed away in January she sent me a handwritten card that was so personal and touching that I stood at my car and cried like a baby. She called me the next day and she was SO upset, and they have continued to support me and be there for me as I grieve. I can say for a fact that I’ve never had a better vet. I won’t switch, but she also told me that because keep kittens and cats indoors that I don’t have to freak out if they miss a vaccination here and there. She’s not money hungry, whereas some of these places are scary in the way they handle themselves on that level. She’s very caring.

        I’ve had to put two animals to sleep in my life and I agree with you, if someone can do that with dignity and courtesy, then you should stick with them. It always upsets me when someone brings their pet in and I just know it’s the end. They’re so good to people at the place I go that I feel good about the level of care from beginning to end. That’s hard to find.

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  2. JackieP

    I loved this post. My most lonely times were when I didn’t have a dog. Also, like you, when I was at my most depressed and was contemplating suicide, to the point I had the gun in my hand. My 4 dogs at the time came into the room I was in and just sat in a circle around me. They did indeed save my life that day. I sat there with that loaded gun and looked at their faces and thought, “who will take care of them if I’m dead? Who will love them like I do?” I put that gun away and never seriously considered suicide again.

    They do indeed give much more than they take. I owe my life to dogs. Now I have my buddy Sam who is 8 lbs of pure undiluted love.

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    1. goldfish

      I’m so glad they were there to save you. That gave me goosebumps. I’ve totally run through that “who will take care of her if I’m dead?” thought process. It’s sad, but just worrying about my dog has stopped those kind of thoughts more often than not.

      Like

      1. JackieP

        It is sad, but thank goodness it happened. I never had kids, so my dogs were my kids. I was with the ex then and things were so bad. It’s amazing how dogs can tune it so to speak.

        Like

  3. Polysyllabic Profundities

    My favorite part of the day is first thing in the morning when my dog senses I’m started to rouse from sleep. She will come and lie beside me and I can feel her eyes burning into me. When I open one eye, I can feel the tail hitting the bed. I can’t imagine waking up and not having her there.

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    1. goldfish

      Cats give, too. I know all about the not being able to wear certain fabrics. My least favorite is waking up with a cat hair wrapped around my eyelashes and my cat isn’t even allowed on the pillows. I’m never getting another long haired cat.

      Like

  4. AR Neal

    Yay! This is the best post I have read in….I can’t figure how long! I was ‘Amen’ all over the place, especially about food and vet and dog-stuff costs (can I even go to the store and not look for a chew toy or mutt snack?!). Oh, yes: double doctorate in poop identification here (a double because I can identify both the dog and cat poop face).
    And yes, the Woola photos/blog post is going to show up. Honest. Let me just put down the bag with the three poopies he dropped on this walk and I will get right on it. Who knew a 22.6 pound creature who is less than four months old could poop so much during one walk?!?

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    1. goldfish

      I went to the store for something completely un-dog-related yesterday and came home with a new toy. Spoiled pup.

      Cat poop face is priceless. They get so serious.

      Ugh. I don’t envy you having a puppy. They are such a pain in the ass. My dog is only 2.5, so the sting of puppyhood is still pretty fresh. I think if I get another dog, they will be at least 6 months. None of this 2 month old business again. At least, until I forget what a pain in the ass puppies are again. ;)

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      1. AR Neal

        I absolutely adore your dog’s face! But I digress…
        Our two large monsters are just over 2 years old and the small monster is just shy of 4 months old. Please do not ask if we were sane, for we certainly were not. Sputnik would have gone completely off the deep end without Pi, who allegedly had cancer and would need to be put down. We got Woola for her to mother/annoy. Pi is either in remission or never had cancer. Go figure. And now we have the three monsters. Wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.

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        1. goldfish

          I’m glad to hear about Pi. That’s excellent news. Three monsters is a lot, especially if one is only 4 months. Shudder. I remember 4 months. It’s a miracle we made it through.

          Like

  5. gimpet

    I LOVE that beautiful face….amazing picture. I needed this post to remind me not to get a dog. Yes, yesterday I was drooling over a baby springer spaniel. He was so beautiful and HAPPY. I want happy. I need happy. But I cant even take care of my cats and just wrote two Cat Hate posts about them. I need a dog like I need a lobotomy…although maybe a lobotomy would make me….happy….

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      1. behindthemaskofabuse

        Awww 1 for you doggy…lol

        Ours was create trained, so as a pup he slept in his create. Then we got a dog bed for him, now he’s scared of being on our bed..lol

        The three times we let him just sit on our bed when he was younger, he peed on our brand new matress. Thankfully our bed is high and he can’t get up. In fact his name is Lowryder (wiener dog)

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        1. goldfish

          I crate trained mine, too, but not at night due to whining. I couldn’t stand the whining. I got a dog bed for her, but she ate it. I gave up. Now, I don’t have a bed, she and the cat do. Oh well. :)

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          1. behindthemaskofabuse

            ahaha oh no! What we did (I know it’s too late now) is get the scent of his mother on a stuffed animal, and got a noise maker with a heartbeat on it. Between the two, absolutely no whining at night. It was a pleasant surprise!

            Like

  6. braith an' lithe

    Absolutely spot on. Down to the grumpy lack of sleep I’m feeling this morning due to the hound not caring 2 hoots that the clocks went back an hour on Saturday AND I kept her up late for a walk last night in the hope that might gain us a lie in til the new 7.30. But no. Whiny times since 6.30am. But what she adds to our family is priceless.

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    1. goldfish

      I’ve taken the dog out for a walk late at night in the hopes that she’d sleep in so I could sleep in, too. It never works. No matter the frustration, it’s always worth it.

      Like

  7. The Cutter

    I have pondered getting a dog recently. The problem is, my wife is allergic which means we need to make extra effort to get a special breed like a labradoodle or something. That extra effort usually pushes me over to the No decision.

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  8. Doggy's Style

    Hero is gorgeous!
    I got my best when I was down, almost 2 years ago. Seriously speaking, I started to look forward to getting home because he was there, because going home was hell.
    That being said, they do drive you nuts when they are growing up, just like teenagers.
    Oh man you need patience!
    Mine loves the water, he loves baths but, which isn’t great at all, I can’t let him run free at the park because he jumps in the river.
    I have my mortgage, my friends are getting houses and kids, I got a dog, he’s my family too, the smelly one.

    Like

  9. Katie

    Your dog is adorable. I always used to claim I was a dog person, but ever since my boyfriend and I got a cat, I don’t think felines are so bad. I definitely wish my dog slept on the bed so I could blame her for the pillow drool…

    Like

    1. goldfish

      Thanks. i think so, but I’m biased.

      Cats and dogs are entirely different creatures. I always thought of myself as both a cat and dog person, but since I got my dog, it’s become pretty evident that I’m a dog person.

      Like

  10. Teepee12

    There are many who feel we have too many dogs, but I can’t bear the idea of losing any one of them, ever, even though I know the inevitable difference in life spans cannot be avoided. For all that, the dogs are our fans, our friends, our companions, our love children. And I’m really really really glad we have a yard and a doggy door!!

    Like

  11. willc88

    You’re not wrong about them being expensive and bed hogs. I’ve got a 1 year old black lab, he recently decided to try and take up reading, got frustrated and ate my kindle. All destruction apart he’s fantastic!

    Like

  12. amonikabyanyuvva

    That last post made me break out into a smile – can I list the ways? No time. My dog is everything you write about, and currently is aiming to dislodge my sanity by sleeping all day except when I insist on his constitutional walks (ambles). Then just as my husband and I close up the house for the night, he insists on reverting into being scared of the dark. We are all in the same room as we have to rent during the week for work reasons. Weekends we are fine – dog is fine – we have bedroom, he has lounge, everyone is happy. Working week sees me nursing said animal with pet massage and lullabies to get him to relax. Nice. Perhaps puppies are not so much more of a bother after all!!

    Like

    1. goldfish

      Awww. People think that dogs are really easy going because we can just put them in the car and go, and while that’s true to some extent, they really don’t handle changes to their home environments all that well. Good luck with your pup.

      Liked by 1 person

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