So I got a comment on my last post (side-note:I love comments! Hint hint! Nudge nudge!) about getting a dog, and I thought, “Whoo! Free topic to write about! No thinking required.” (Also, Rayshell – your puppy sounds adorable. I’m a huge fan of original puppy names – Ethel Brown definitely qualifies as original. Love it.)
So. Dogs. Here is my history with dogs:
I lived in New Jersey growing up, which is where The Seeing Eye is located. The Seeing Eye trains dogs as guide dogs for the blind. When I was 8 years old, I decided that I wanted to become a puppy raiser for The Seeing Eye. (Without giving you too much detail, the dogs can’t be trained for harness work until they are older, around 18 months, but they need to be trained for basic obedience, and to be around kids, other animals, etc. So The Seeing Eye – in conjunction with the 4-H – places them with families/kids who raise them and train them for the first 18 months of their lives.)
I got my first puppy, a yellow lab named Aspen, when I was 8, and raised a total of 8 dogs for The Seeing Eye before I moved away to college. My brother still raises puppies, so if I am doing the math correctly, my family is currently raising their 14th puppy.
Working with The Seeing Eye was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I’m sure you can imagine being a child and giving away your puppy without ever seeing her again. But knowing that she was going to do something so amazing, to help someone in a way that was so profound… there are no words.
I learned discipline by getting up at 5am to walk, train, and feed them before going to school. I learned patience when an 8 week old puppy just wouldn’t calm down and go to sleep. I learned poise and self-confidence by appearing in front of schools and even doing newspaper and tv interviews about puppy raising.
If you live close enough to a school (I’ve heard about others but don’t personally know about any other than The Seeing Eye) and are at all interested in puppy raising I really urge you to explore it. I could talk about it for hours and would be happy to if encouraged. Also, if you have buckets of money sitting around and are looking for a good cause to donate to, I encourage you to donate to The Seeing Eye.
I think I had a point here somewhere, right? Oh yes – Matt’s request for a dog.
Well, as you can see from the above, I have a lot of experience with dogs (and lots of other animals – growing up I can remember cats, bunnies, an injured pigeon, a lizard, fish, etc.) Matt has none. His lone pet growing up was a box turtle. Named Ben. While I’m sure Ben had many fine qualities, undying love and affection for his owner was not one of them. Nor did he do any tricks. Or much of anything, for that matter.
So, Matt wants a dog. He asks me at least once a day if we can have a dog. When he runs in the park he comes home and tells me about the dogs he sees. When we drive past someone walking a dog, he immediately slows down and points. He has already named our future dog (either a Golden Retriever named Pickles or a Chocolate Lab named CoCo).
If I didn’t know better, I would swear he was a 5 year old instead of a grown man. This dude sure loves his 4 legged friends.
The things is, I want a dog, too. I REALLY want a dog. However, since I’m ever the rational planner, and the only one who has actually ever owned a dog, I want to make sure that we are ready for a dog. My biggest concern is about leaving a dog alone for so long. I want to make sure that we are not being unfair by leaving a dog (or puppy, since I think we’d prefer to get a young puppy) by itself all day. We are both out of the house every day by 8am and are not home until AT LEAST 6:20. That’s a LONG TIME for any creature to hold its bladder. I know I couldn’t do it. The obvious solution is to get a dog walker. But that brings up the second major issue, which is money. As in, we have none. I’m researched the average estimated cost of vet bills online, and for a large dog it is estimated at around $800/year. Then add food, dog walker, toys, leashes, care if we go on vacation… and you have a very expensive undertaking.
So I guess my question is this: how many paragraphs can I start using the word ‘so’? Wait. No. My question is: How have you managed to care for/pay for your 4 legged friends? I’m especially interested in what you do while you’re at work all day.
My other question is this: Would Matt’s heart ACTUALLY burst with joy if we got a dog? I’m thinking yes.