Sunday, 11 January 2015

What it's like to own a dog

Owning a dog can seem very 'idealistic' in the blogging & celebrity world with all these cute little pugs and little teacup varieties and unfortunately these ideas of what having a dog is like can lead people to make bad decisions where pet purchases are concerned and ultimately can lead to a dog ending up in a rehoming centre. Before I continue I just want you to know that if you have ever given a dog up or whatever then please don't take offence to what I'm going to say; I'm writing this post in the hope that someone might read it and get a real idea of what owning a dog is like rather than being somewhat misled by these celebrity dog owners.

When Jasp was a Bubba, he's 3.5 now!

They need walking

I know the idea of a lovely afternoon stroll in the park with a cute little fluff ball on the end of a lead might seem very appealing, the reality of it will be somewhat different. If it's raining, snowing or whatever your dog doesn't know that and they will still need to be walked. I am guilty of not taking Jasper out enough, ideally he should be having 2 walks per day but I simply don't have the time or the energy to do that. Having said that, I have a huge garden for him to play in and he's quite happy to have me throw the ball backwards and forwards to burn off some of his energy (I say 'some' because I genuinely believe he could walk 100 miles a day and not bat an eyelid!). 

The breed plays a massive part in how much and how far they need walking; Jasper who is working cocker needs far more walking than say Blue the West Highland Terrier (who will lay down and blankly refuse to walk after so far). You also need to consider the training aspect of walking a dog; you can't just put a lead on them and expect to walk at heel. Unless you want your arm pulling out of its socket you'll need to spend time training your dog to walk properly on a lead.

They are expensive

And I'm not just talking vet bills which would be an unexpected cost should they fall ill or have an accident. I would estimate average weekly living costs of around £20-£30 which includes food, insurance, worming, flea treatment, grooming and treats. Of course, you could do it on a smaller budget than me but I make sure that he eats good quality dog food, he has adequate insurance and flea treatment that actually works. You've probably seen the high street flea 'treatments' which are about £5... these do not work (unless your dog never leaves the house or comes into contact with a flea), you need to buy vet approved treatments which are around £30 for 3 months worth of treatment. 

Then there's insurance which is a monthly cost of around £15 depending on the age of the dog and level of cover; I make sure I have unlimited access to paid for treatments no matter what happens to Jasper and I know that this cost is going to increase every year because he's obviously getting older and more prone to health problems... you don't have to insure your dog but say for an awful example that they got run over, you might have to choose between spending thousands on treatment or getting him/her put to sleep. Not something I want to have to decide between so I make sure I have good insurance. 

They are gross

They poo, they wee, they get wet, they get sick, they smell and they FART... my god does Jasper fart. You have a responsibility to clean up your dogs poo when he does it when you're out on a walk and trust me it is not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination; there's no sugar coating a bag of shit let me tell you! 

Even if you might think you have the cleanest dog in the Northern hemisphere your house will still smell of dog, it might not be a strong smell but people will be able to smell that you have a dog. They do have accidents in the house; if they're scared of fireworks they might wee and there's no telling where they might do it if you're not careful (try leaving the bedroom door open by accident and coming home to a wee soaked quilt on your bed!). 

They aren't cute and fluffy all the time either, especially when they find a nice muddy smelly dyke to jump in or a nice pile of fox poo to roll in and then you've got to bath them after that and if you've got a dog who hates baths that could be a military operation in itself. Then there's the times when he eats his tea too quickly and sicks it up on the living room floor... attractive!!

And then they can get the afore mentioned dreaded fleas... these little critters are absolutely skin crawlingly horrible to deal with because they breed at such a rapid rate! You might think you've got rid of them but then a new batch hatches from your carpet which has laid dormant because you haven't treated your house as well as your dog... ugh! Take it from me they are not pleasant but chances are your dog will get fleas at some point in their life. Also they can get ticks which are equally as ugly and horrible to deal with; they latch onto your pets skin and suck their blood (!!!) and you have to extract them in a special way so as not to leave any part of the tick in your pet which could get infected. I don't know which are worst; fleas or ticks but they're both gross nonetheless! 

But they will love you totally, completely and unconditionally

No matter how you look, how you're feeling or whether you've just shouted at them for chewing your brand new shoes... your dog will love you no matter what. I genuinely didn't think I could love an animal as much as I love Jasper, in fact I think I love him an unhealthy amount. His little face completely melts me and he is the first one to come wriggling over to me when I'm feeling upset (I say wriggle because he wags his little tail and his whole body wriggles like a worm). 

Jasper brings so much joy to my life and I've had some of the best days of my life with him because he's just so funny and cute. He cuddles on command, understands way more than I give him credit for and acts like a human in ways that you can't imagine. He has little play dates with his dog friends and he has a 5 minute mummy cuddle before bed every night.

A dog will be a friend for life, they are totally without prejudice and they will love you until they day they die. I know it isn't the same for some dog owners but Jasper truly is a part of our family; he is treat like a child in our house (some might disagree with this, I know) and I can't put into words how distraught I'll be when we lose him. Because that's another thing, dogs are only here for around 10 years so that thing that you have loved and put your heart and soul into will leave you one day and I believe it'll be like I've lost a family member. 

(I realise that some of what I've said in those last 3 paragraphs might sound utterly ridiculous to anyone who has never owned a dog but I'm pretty sure that there will be many dog owners out there who know exactly what I'm talking about!)

So the point of this post is ultimately to make you think carefully about owning a dog because although I wouldn't be without Jasper for all the money in the world, some people aren't cut out for being a dog owner for one reason or another. So if you're thinking of buying a dog, think about how much you love your house; how would you react if you had a dog who relentlessly chewed anything he could get his knashers on or one who never calmed down for a minute of the day. 

There's so much more to owning a dog than cute little jumpers and sunny walks in the park, and I really, really want everyone to understand that in the hope that there are less little woofers who are sent to be rehomed. 

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