One year ago I convinced my husband that we needed a dog. Choosing the right dog for our family required a lot of research and time. My husband constantly reminded me of how much work and money a dog is: you have to walk them, groom them, feed them, clean up after them, and train them. I knew all this, but still insisted on adding a dog to our family.
I wanted a mid-sized dog that is good with children as well as other animals and could be easily trained. In the end we chose an Australian Shepherd, who we have since named Happy. She was very easy to house train and easily understood simple commands, such as sit, down and off. What I didn’t realize is that when the experts said Aussies are high energy – they have a lot of energy! My dog does not nap during the day and would rather run and play outside than do anything else, including eat! This was a bit concerning at first, but we have since gotten into the routine of walking together in the morning for about 30 minutes, playing fly ball in the afternoon and then walking again for about 30 minutes in the evening. The good thing is that the dog keeps me active. There have been many evenings this past fall and early winter where the last thing I wanted to do was get dressed in layers and walk in the cold, but I did, because otherwise Happy would just sit in front of me and bark.
I have had friends ask if I regret getting a dog. I don’t. She has been a wonderful companion for my daughter and being a dog owner has taught her responsibility and patience (it is her job to feed the dog and she accompanied me to puppy training classes). Happy is always by my daughter’s side and is my daughter’s favourite cuddle buddy when she isn’t feeling well. My daughter calls for her when she gets off the school bus and is proud to introduce her to friends.
Happy is an excellent addition to our family. We cannot picture our lives without her. I will admit, my husband was right – dogs are a lot of work, but at the end of the day when I am laying on the couch reading, with the dog cuddled by my side, I cannot help but smiles knowing it is all worthwhile.
Here is some advice for anyone looking to add a dog to their family:
- Make sure you have the time needed to train, care for and play with your dog
- Choose a breed that best suits your lifestyle (we are active people, so an active dog was a great choice for us, but if the idea of walking a dog twice day, rain or shine, doesn’t appeal to you, a less active breed may be best)
- Make sure to take into consideration the financial investment that goes into owning a dog: supplies, food, grooming, veterinarian bills, training, and boarding
- If you have allergies, make sure you look into a hypoallergenic dog – they come in all sizes!
- DO NOT BUY FROM A BACKYARD BREEDER! We bought our dog from a reputable breeder. We meet her parents, saw how the dogs live and were free to roam the entire property if we felt so inclined. And if you can do so, why not look into adopting a dog? The Ottawa Humane Society is a great resource to helping families find a perfect furry friend.
- Do your research – I knew my dog’s breed inside and out before she came home. Of course there were still some surprises, but I was better equipped to handle all situations and knew what kind of behaviour to expect.