“Honey, let’s get a dog! It will protect us, inspire us to get more exercise, and be a wonderful companion when we have kids!” That was me six years ago.
“Don’t do it! You will regret it! Having a pet is such a pain!” This would be me today if I could go back in time and talk to my optimistic self six years ago.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my dog. Max is a 7-year-old lab mix with tons of energy. He’s great with the kids, cleans up any and all crumbs, and loves to cuddle. As far as dogs go, he’s pretty great. Before we had kids there was nothing my husband and I wouldn’t do to spoil him. It’s not him in particular that I take issue with—it’s having a dog, ANY dog, when you also have small children. Here are the things I didn’t think about but wish I had:
- Dogs are disgusting. I realize that some dogs are more gross than others, but OMG. Vomit in the house. Waking up to my daughter stepping in dog diarrhea outside her bedroom door. Consumption of their own feces. These are all things that my life would be better without. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about un-trainable dogs needing to wear diapers, and some bringing dead animals into the house through the dog door. No, no, no. I deal with enough of these issues already with my two small children! I’ll pass on bringing a hairy beast into the mix.
- Dogs smell. In that same vein, dogs stink. Luckily Max is not one of those dogs whose fur alone gives off a foul odor. You know the dog I’m talking about? The one you touch for a millisecond and then you can’t wash their stench off your hand for the life of you? Gross. But there’s also another odor problem with which Max is afflicted. Stink bombs. You know, silent but deadly. You can almost see the putrid wave coming through the room as innocent bystanders (my family) take cover one by one under blankets, shirts, towels—anything to cover their noses until the wave passes. I already have a husband for this, I don’t need a dog making things worse. A girl can only light so many candles.
- Dogs shed. This is one of the main points I would go back and warn myself about before we rescued Max. If you are in the market for a dog I cannot emphasize this point enough: Get a dog that doesn’t shed! Max has light hair and my house has dark hardwood floors and carpet. Not a good combo. No amount of vacuuming seems to make a dent and the problem is year-round. I long for the day when I can wear black clothing again without worrying that protesters will douse me in red paint.
- Dogs bark. It may seem obvious, but this one is huge for anyone who has small children and values nap time like I do. My kiddos can typically sleep through the ringing of a doorbell. But combine that with the onslaught of vicious snarling and barking in response to that doorbell, and you have a recipe for crying kids and, let’s be honest…a crying mama, too. This is especially hard on anyone with an Amazon Prime habit.
- Dogs are expensive. When we first brought Max home we spent a fortune on dog beds, crates, dishes, food, toys, leashes, vet bills, and more. Add to that any costs associated with travel and it can get out of hand. If you are lucky enough to live near family who can care for your dog while you travel, I envy you. Putting Max in the kennel is typically the largest expense we have on any trip we take. That is absurd! Definitely keep this in mind if you are a family who travels frequently like we do.
Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, I wonder what me six years ago would do with this information? My guess is that she’d still go ahead with it, thinking that the good will outweigh the bad.
And it’s true, there are so many great things about having a dog. Max is a loyal and loving companion, and my kids love him. He makes me feel safe in my home, and he’s a great snuggler. He is even laying adorably at my feet as I write this, keeping me company with his presence (and his gas).
But for this season of my life, keeping my sanity is hard enough without the added stress a dog brings. So for those of you who are thinking about getting a dog, maybe my advice isn’t actually don’t, but instead wait. Wait until your kids are older and they can (theoretically) walk the dog. Wait until nap time is not a daily must for your sanity. Wait until you truly have the time to dedicate to giving your dog the appreciation and attention it needs. Good luck!