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Moms' Talk: Is It A Good Idea To Have A Dog Join The Family? (With Videos And Talk Transcript)

Despite Constant Badgering We Are Not Getting A Dog!

“To be or not to be, that is the question.”  No, I am not revisiting the classics or trying to find the deeper meaning in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  I am repeating what I have been thinking about after endless hours of Sophia begging to be a dog owner.

It seems a day does not go by without her asking, or better yet whining and begging, to get a dog.  And I quote, “You are torturing me, you will not get me a cute little harmless, puppy.”  I do not deny that small, little dogs can be adorable; that cute, little dogs can be reliable, trustworthy friends; that cute, cuddly, furry dogs can be wonderful family members.

All that said, dogs are also a huge responsibility.

Do you mothers and fathers out there understand my reluctance?  Have you heard these pleas and been able to resist giving in? Or, on the other hand, are you a proud, happy dog owner who couldn’t image life without man’s best friend.

Our house is not totally pet -free. We do have fish and a gerbil.  These are animals that need a clean living environment and food and water.  The gerbil can be played with, but for the most part he is happy to just run on his wheel and romp around his large cage. 

These pets I can deal with.  They are pets that Sophia can take care of by herself.  The rest of the family lends a hand when needed, but since they are not pets that need constant attention, they fit in perfectly with our lifestyle.

Now a dog, that is a completely different story.  There is the training, the walking, the cleaning up after, the brushing and the veterinarian visits. 

Oh, and did I mention the vacation pet sitting when we are away from home?

 I am not only talking about a vacation, vacation where a professional house sitter or kennel would come to the rescue.  I am also talking about those summer days when we decide a family day trip to the beach would be fun.  You certainly cannot leave Fido home alone all day long to take care of himself and bringing him along is not always feasible.

Have any of you gotten a dog only to realize they are more responsibility than your children or you can handle?  Are there days when you feel like the dog is more work than pleasure? 

Sophia just does not understand these intricacies of dog ownership.  She sees friends and family with their dogs under normal, everyday circumstances.  It’s fun to go visiting and help take care of the family dog.  Walking and frolicking with a friend’s dog is vastly different than having one who relies on you 24/7.

I know some of my reluctance comes from never having a dog growing up. I had allergies to dogs, which, by all accounts I have outgrown, so this precluded my family from getting a dog.  My brothers were told, however, that once I went away to college they could get one.  I think as I went out the front door the dog was taking my spot through the back door!

My lack of experience has a great deal to do with my fervent opposition to having a dog join our family.  My husband loves dogs, but also understands the responsibility inherent in getting one.  It just would not work well with our lifestyle.

I also know that the novelty of walking, caring for and playing with a dog may wear off when homework becomes overwhelming, sports season kicks in and friends come a calling.  I do not want to be the one who ultimately becomes resentful and the dog suffers because of this.  I have seen this happen one too many times to know it is a reality.

So back to that Shakespeare quote, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Scholars may ponder what Shakespeare was thinking when he wrote this, but now that have written it and weighed the pros and cons having a dog join our family is not to be.

Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Ok, I've been kinda on the "you've gotta get a dog" side here, but I have a confession to make. I'm a rabid dog lover, but I do not currently have a dog. I don't because I don't have time to take care of one right now and my daughter, even though she is responsible and caring, does not either. So we have two cats who act a lot like dogs (meet me at the door, will generally come when I call, and are enormously affectionate). But, Sarah, I do see your point about being reluctant to take on more than it seems like your family can handle right now. I'm kind of in the same boat. But I look at the pictures of Max or think about Jada (Elissa's cute lil pit bull) and am sorry tempted to run down to the local dog pound ...
di March 02, 2011 at 07:16 PM
We are lucky enough to have a sitter come when we go away, but I know friends and family have used dog-friendly hotels. So I don't know of any specifically that are good - :-(
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 07:54 PM
I know, that is what we always used to do, get a dog sitter. Or leave him with someone. I actually even got this book once about pet friendly hotels that accepted dogs, but our destinations never aligned with the recommendations. I think it's one of those things easier said than done.
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Oh, you guys are tearing at my heartstrings, as if Sophia hasn't done that enough. All these loving tributes to family dogs is making me rethink my very firm stance...stay tuned!
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 08:02 PM
If you're participating in the 3 p.m. chat, welcome! And remember to hit the refresh button on your browser to see the new entries.
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Love your pictures of Mav. Thanks for sharing Carolyn. I especially love the one of her with Tori in the snow.
Carolyn Rotermund March 02, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Sarah, can you leave your job during lunch to run home to visit the dog and take him out?
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Funny you should mention that Carolyn because that is exactly what Sophia said I could do...now that would make the dog my responsibility wouldn't it!?! I do believe I would be sliding down a slippery slope if I agreed to that arrangement. Your thoughts?
Carolyn Rotermund March 02, 2011 at 08:21 PM
No matter what your kids say, it will be your responsibility. Tori signed a written contract about taking care of our dog, and we even got her on tape saying she would walk the dog and feed him. After about a month, that all ended and Chris and I take care of the dog walks and do most of the feedings (which is so easy). However, it is so worth it as Mav is amazing and has added so much love to our family.
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 08:26 PM
You are going right to the heart of the matter, Carolyn. I know a dog would add to our family life...bring us love and enjoyment, but I don't have the temperment, the drive, the energy to add that to my list of responsibilities.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Actually, Sarah, I think you are making good points. There's nothing better than having a dog. And I can imagine there are few things worse than taking on responsibility for a loving animal and than not being able to fulfill that responsibility. Dogs need time and attention. Howsabout kids who want dogs should set up a dog walking business and they can lavish their time and love for dogs helping people who don't have time to take care of their own? =) Them, if they can stick with that ... maybe ...
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 08:34 PM
You know, Pem, as I wrote my reply to Martha and noted that maybe Sophia could come to her house to help walk the dog that maybe that could be a business for Sophia. What a great way to make a living...doing what you love!
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 08:41 PM
True, and in a town of dog lovers like this one, I'm sure she'd find a lot of business.
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 08:43 PM
That will be tonight's family dinner conversation! We have a full family dinner on Wednesdays so we can get everyone's input.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Sounds good! Have a great dinner! =)
Susan Wivell March 02, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Go for it! Depending on your work schedule, summer can be a great time to get a pet of any kind! My kids (and I) have lots of free time then, and it was put to good use when acquiring each of our 2 kittens (we love dogs, too, but kitties fit our busy schedule w/a minimum of stress). Advice--while it's always easy to justify waiting 'another year', don't wait too long. Kids are in, and then out of, highschool in the blink of an eye. Healthy pets will live for a number of years and if they are to be 'for the kids' you want them to be living at home for the majority of those years, LOL. Good luck. Pets do have their needs and challenges, of course, but are an incredible way to enrich your daughters' childhood and family life! Good luck.
Barbara Salzano March 02, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Let me weigh in on the heels of saying good-bye to the woman who comes to my house every month to clean my dog's teeth. Having a dog requires almost as much care and attention (not to mention cost) as having children and somehow the parents inevitably end up doing all the caretaking. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my dog but it was my daughter's years of pleading that led us to dog ownership
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Thanks, Susan. I know a number of people who either "get used" to a pet before starting their family or after their children leave home ~ a way to fill that empty nest. I think if you do it that way you are used to it and it is your decision ... if you do it because the children want it and then they move away you are "stuck" with the job of stepping in and taking over the responsibility. Sophia is young yet and we will just have to weigh all the options. Thanks for weighing in on this heavy issue, Susan. Lots to ponder!
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Ah...the cost. We haven't even touched upon that aspect. Just like children, pets do get sick and the veterinarian, I have heard, is not cheap. Just another budget line item to consider when making the decision. Thanks for bringing up this issue, Barbara. This is not a small thing and has to be considered!
Sarah Page Kyrcz March 02, 2011 at 09:11 PM
To everyone that joined us in our live chat, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to post a comment. If you couldn't join us, there is always next week and remember you can post your thoughts anytime you want. I love to hear from my readers. Your feedback encourages me to keep writing. Happy Wednesday to all!
Barbara Salzano March 02, 2011 at 09:14 PM
I have a great dog sitter who takes my dog into her home with her family pets. Her name is June and she lives in Madison. Let me know if you want her contact information.
Cathy Marsh Photography March 02, 2011 at 10:42 PM
Some one take my Beta Fish !!!
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 10:55 PM
LOL! What, is it eating too much or does it take too much time to walk it every night? =)
Ruth Rose March 03, 2011 at 09:48 AM
Sarah, I always enjoy your column and your musings and you're so right to consider the pros and cons of dog ownership very seriously. While a variety of dogs and all kinds of other animals have added immeasurably to our lives, pets are definitely not for everyone. Providing a home and love to a dog is so much more than housing a fish or a gerbil. There is just no comparison, in the amount of love and care required, or in the amount of love returned for that matter. With both my husband and I growing up on farms, it's hard to imagine life without our dogs, drafthorses, goats, llamas, cows, miniature horse, sheep, chickens, etc. It's hard to imagine what's next to join our menagerie! That being said, pets are definitely NOT for everyone and there have been way too many people who have impusively bought rabbits or lambs at Easter, only to stop by the farm a few weeks later, begging for a new home for these animals, as they grown out of the cute "baby" stage very quickly and become real, life-size animals! The same thing happens with cute little puppies; they grow into sometimes, big-old dogs, which is just fine for some, but quite trying for others. We did even adopt our daughter and son-in-law's wonderful Golden Retriever when they moved off the farm, because none of us could imagine asking Duke to give up his life here on the farm with all his animal and human friends. He's been our very dearest pet by far and our daugher and SIL always have visiting privileges!
Ruth Rose March 03, 2011 at 09:51 AM
OK, I ran out of space, but you can see I can get verbose when discussing animals! We've had Old English Sheepdogs, which can be a bit quirky in personality, and which my husbands seems to think are a riot (me, not so much!), Goldens, and our latest addition to the family is our younger son's Bloodhound. All have their endearing qualities, but by far the best breed we've experienced with children is our three wonderful Goldens, so if the time is EVER right for Sophia, you might just want to consider a Golden Retriever. In the meantime, you're always welcome to visit the farm!
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 03, 2011 at 10:50 AM
Thanks Ruth! And thanks for the picture of the boot! Too funny! You are a good woman to still love that Bloodhound who did that! The dog is adorable, as is your grandson. =)
Ruth Rose March 03, 2011 at 10:58 AM
Aw, winter boots can be replaced . . . now if it had been my favorite cowboy boots . . . actually, when we leave tempting items out, it's our own fault and Jake the Bloodhound was probably just in need of attention. When they look at your with those puppy-dog eyes, we usually just melt! If dogs get enough romping and exercise during the day, they usually don't find trouble, but with puppies, you always have to be on guard. Thanks for the compliments on my grandson, too. We're having a ball together! So nice to meet you at school yesterday! LOVE your online news!
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 03, 2011 at 11:21 AM
You make a good point about Jake, both his puppy-dog eyes, and the need to be on guard about pups. We had a dog once that went through a shoe or two, until we started providing him with all sorts of chew toys ... and started putting away our shoes. =) See, having a dog can be the start of all sorts of great habits! Going for regular walks, putting away your shoes ... Great to meet you too! Glad you love Patch and hope to see you again soon! And thanks again for your video testimonial, the pictures, and your thoughts on the subject.
Barbara Salzano March 03, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Ruth, you're wise to raise the point about animals being an impulsive decision. The woman who cleans our dogs teeth runs a dachsund rescue program and she had three of her most recent rescues with her yesterday when she visited my home. Two were left out on a deck in the cold and were emaciated when she took them in; they were two of the sweetest dogs you could imagine. It's inconceivable to me how anyone could abuse or neglect animals, but just watch/read the news and you know it's a reality.
Ellie Gillespie March 06, 2011 at 01:51 PM
How can you ever go wrong incorporating unconditional love into your life. Who doesn't need someone who is ecstatic when you walk in the door? Who makes you laugh and helps you realize that now is the only time we ever have? I know well the frustrations of dog misbehavior but I would give up "things" over all the wonderful and countless moments animals bring to my life and my children's anytime. I am an unrepentant animal lover - and I have learned trust from horses and joy from dogs and felt amazing love, concern and comfort from a cat so for me life without one of these amazing animals would be too difficult.

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