I believe owning a pet is an essential part of growing up, regardless of whether it is a cat, dog or another animal. Children’s nagging for a pet could drive you crazy. It’s one time you might let them have their way. However, make it clear from the start that owning a pup comes with responsibilities. Those responsibilities are why I put so much value on kids having pets. Having someone or something to care for is a crucial part of the character-forming of children.
Parents and children might daydream about taking a dog on long walks, teaching it some cool tricks, and receiving a wet muzzled welcome home kiss each day. Dream on; there’s a whole lot more to owning a dog, starting with getting used to a wet, smelly breath kiss whether you are prepared or not.
A pup will increase your range of familiar flavors
Whether you like it or not, your fluffy new best friend will steer or pull you into alleys that you would typically avoid. He will follow his nose to flavors like old tissues, banana peels and another dog’s poo. You’ll have no option but to accept that smells you classify as YUCK, Doggo classify as YUMMM.
Your pup will also teach you to touch and feel new things
Like your children, your dog will have you feel an overwhelming amount of pride and love — but not always. There will be occasions when you might have to pull nasty things out of his mouth — something like those smelly discoveries he made in the alley.
Your pup’s idea of a long walk and yours may differ
Your daydreams about long walks and reality will likely be far apart. Those images of Doggo excitedly jumping up and down when you bring out the leash might happen. However, walkies is not for when it suits you. Your mutt might have the urge to go for a walk halfway through the TV show that you never miss. It could also happen in the early morning hours, like 3 a.m. or midnight — in the dead of winter.
After Poochie drank too much water or ate something unrecognizable on an earlier walk, nature might call at inconvenient hours. You’ll want to see these trips as part of bonding with a man’s best friend. Look at the stars and make your peace with the things you wish you knew before giving in to the kids when they nagged for a dog.
Your pup will have no consideration for your jogging routine
Beware; don’t venture on an off-leash walk too soon. One moment the two of you will share the fun of the walk, and the next thing, you’ll find yourself running after him. Your mutt might want to explore territory that was up to that moment uncharted for you. The planned peaceful walk could turn into something similar to track racing in the blink of an eye. Make sure you wear shoes that will suit all situations when the two of you go for a walk — or run.
Be prepared to rearrange your schedule
You might be a creature of habit, but so could your pup. I can bet on whose schedule would win. After a difficult week and a much-deserved happy hour spent with friends, sleeping in on Saturday might have worked for years. However, Poochie believes cats are creatures to sleep in, not dogs. So, get out of bed already!
Dog training — who’s training who?
You will soon learn that those dog training sessions are more about training you than your dog. Doggo will watch you closely to see when you will be ready to respond to his commands. He’ll be testing you with commands like “let’s play ball,” “ it’s time for a treat,” and “how about us going for a walk?”
Poochie will never stop testing you. He could interpret your commands of “fetch” and “come” in various ways, none of which you will expect. And while we’re on the subject of communication, remember the language you developed when your kids were babies? A language only you and the little one understood. Even against your will, it will happen again when you bring a pup into your home. The two of you will share secrets in a language no one else understands.
Did you think you knew the meaning of unconditional?
Unconditional has different meanings for dog owners and non-dog owners. Your pup will sit quietly and listen to whatever you need or want to get off your chest. Regardless of whether you took your bad mood out on him, forgot to fill his water bowl or any other inconsideration, he will always be ready to give you a wet-muzzle kiss. In the secret language you share, Doggo will tell you not to be too hard on yourself. You’re allowed to fail sometimes — after all, you’re only a human.
That right there is unconditional love.