I love animals. I always have. When I was a kid I begged my parents for a dog but never got one. Years later I adopted my first dog, a one year old Rough Collie rescued from the Humane Society. I later got a German Shepherd to keep us company. We hiked all over the Appalachians and the Dunes near Lake Michigan.
After I got married, we adopted a feral cat. Snoopy was amazing. Brilliant, beautiful and loving. But she would not countenance another creature sharing her space. So, no dogs for a while. Alas, Snoopy died in 2014 at the age of 20. It was too soon.
I mourned for a year before I adopted Annie from a Collie rescue organization. She was already 10 years old and had led a hard life. She’d been used in dog fights. There were scars all over her body. Yet she was incredibly gentle and patient. The neighborhood kids loved on her. She passed away last year and I still have people ask about her.
Now I am finally ready for another dog. This time I’m getting a puppy. And that terrifies me.
I decided I needed to get a young dog this time around because I need more time with him. My heart needs time to heal from the string of losses I’ve endured in the last few years. Not just the loss of pets, but of a dear friend that died unexpectedly, as well as my uncle and my mother-in-law. I’ve also had a mastectomy and a divorce, so, overall, there’s just a lot of pain I’ve dealt with recently. I want a period without loss.
So I’m getting a puppy.
But I’ve never had one.
And it’s all just looming large for me. Can I house train him? I’ve read all the information I can find, talked to people who’ve done it… but I know that’s not the same thing.
And there are so many other things.
A puppy needs a lot more time and attention. Yet, I’m an introvert. Will I have the energy? I know I’ll have the love, but I am daunted at the time commitment. Yet, with this pandemic, now is probably the best time for taking on such a thing.
Yet I do worry. Will I be able to look after my dog’s emotional needs? Particularly since dog parks are still closed. I’ve talked with a couple of neighbors who have dogs, about safely setting up play dates. I want to make sure my dog get his need for canine interactions met.
Finally, there is the financial obligation. Pets are family. Taking on a pet is a lifetime commitment to that animal’s welfare. It’s not just food and toys. It also means vet care.
When Snoopy had renal failure, we spent the money for treatment. When Annie had arthritis we got her meds. My new puppy will be young and healthy but… there are always things that happen.
I’m in a tight place right now, as far as my budget. Can I afford this? I think I can but there is also the fear — what if something major happens?
Yet… people have children all the time. Despite being poor or introverted or not sure what to do. And a puppy is a lot less hard than a child, right? So… maybe I’ve got this?
Previously published on medium
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