Thursday, November 28, 2013

28 Nov, 2013

I have been puppy-sitting for the last couple of days.I don't mind puppy-sitting so much, the little dog is quite a good boy and does listen when he's told to do something.He's a Patterdale terrier, AKA the Patterdale Terrorist.

Just looking after him for a couple of days eats up a lot of time - he needs walking, feeding, cuddling, entertaining dogs are very needy creatures.I had to take him to the vet for a general check-up as a favour to his dad, and the bill for the check-up, a three month supply of Advocate (the flea treatment that you drip on the back of the neck) and a tube of cream to rub on his ears (I think there was an issue with mites, he was scratching his ears a lot and starting to lose some hair) came to EUR73.00.That's quite a chunk of cash when you think about it.Luckily, our little dude is pretty healthy.

His dad paid EUR350.00 for his little puppy butt originally, plus had to drive to Norfolk to get him.He's neutered, and that cost EUR270.00.His insurance, microchip, vaccinations, crate, bedding, collars, leashes, treats, food it all adds up to hundreds of pounds.His dad is having to put up a new fence to keep him in the back garden.This is going to cost EUR600.00.

Recently his dog tag was stolen (a visiting child is suspected, it was a pretty cool dog tag) and he just happened to do a runner that day and the dog warden caught him before his dad could find him and put his new tag on his collar.That's a EUR50.00 fine, not having a tag on your dog and letting him run free.

This is all pretty typical stuff, the things I've listed.I've bought stuff for the puppy too, for when he comes to stay.The puppy was born in Feb, his dad got him in April, he's been coming to stay with me off and on ever since.I reckon his dad has spent roughly EUR1700.00 in the last seven months of puppy ownership.Remember, this is for a healthy dog at the beginning of his life.

The point I'm trying to make here is that owning a pet, especially a dog, comes with a pretty good-sized price tag,if you want to look after it as good as our puppy is being treated.Just imagine if the puppy had a health issue.People who own dogs have to accept they are as expensive as having a child.

If you don't have a dog but want one, it's not as straightforward as going out and buying or adopting one from a shelter.You have to consider everything anew, like who's going to walk him twice a day, paying the medical bills, feed and treats, baths, and all the rest of it.If you haven't thought about all these things and made sure your budget will stretch to take on a new family member, here's your reality check.

It's no good getting a puppy for Christmas then abandoning it in a shelter three months later because your children won't look after it, or it chewed up your Jimmy Choos, or you've just realised how expensive everything to do with dogs is.This makes you a money wasting fool, and you've just possibly condemned a dog to death with your thoughtlessness.

Make sure you are ready for the commitment of a pet.Make sure you can afford it.Do a spreadsheet, make some phone calls, know how much the vet's going to charge you, know the leash laws, find out what sort of care you will need to provide.Do not for one second believe your eight year old when he solemnly looks at you and promises to walk the dog every day.He might mean it for that period of time, but the reality is, eight year olds are notorious for telling porky pies, especially when they are making promises to get something they want.You as the parent will end up caring for that puppy, and on some level you should know this.

If you don't have any experience owning a dog, you best find yourself a dog handler and get some training first.You can ruin a good dog by being a bad owner, and ignorant owners are the worst of the bad.I think inexperienced, prospective dog owners should spend at least a few days volunteering in a dog shelter before they are allowed to get a dog, but then I think there should be a dog owner's license as well.

I'm not trying to be a hard-ass here.I love dogs. I love all animals.To see an animal suffering from neglect or owner ignorance breaks my heart.Here in England if a dog bites someone he or she can insist the dog be put down, and if a dog mauls someone (the media only seems to report it when a child is mauled) that is an instant death sentence.Charges of negligence will be filed against the dog owner of course, but no death sentence for them, hey?

Do your homework.It's worth a few hours of your time to really see all sides of owning a pet, and whether or not you are really up for it.You might decide in the end that you aren't, and a four-legged person might actually have a better life because of that decision.

As for me, well, I can't afford a dog.I'd like one, I really would.As well as the cash aspect I know I don't have the time to devote to a dog, because when I puppy-sit I always have to spend the next few days after he goes just catching up with my backlog.

Dogs equal guilt, and all conscientious dog owners will admit to that. I feel guilty when I have to leave him alone to do things like go to my swimming class or go to the grocery store. Working from home means he has to stay in the kitchen when my patients get here, because he thinks all new people are coming over specifically to play with him.Being banished to the kitchen, even with all the comforts of home it offers still makes him cry.When I'm trying to write or do my homework I have to deny him, no matter how many times he repeatedly drops that stupid tennis ball at my feet and looks beseechingly at me.It's a terrible thing, a puppy that no one wants to play with

If you still think owning a dog is your idea of domestic bliss please take my advice if you're a newbie.Do the research.You will be saving yourself a lot of heartache and trouble if you do.
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