Summer’s on the way, and this often means thoughts of adding a new addition of the four-legged variety to your family! But be realistic; if you’re contemplating becoming a doggy parent, make sure you’re fully aware of the responsibilities and consequences that come with this decision.
You see, it’s likely that you, mam/dad, will be the primary carer for this bundle of energy that’ll require training and understanding when he/she chews Barbie’s head off, poos in grandad’s slippers, runs off with Nana’s false teeth and drags mammy’s expensive dress through the house.
Here are just some things you should consider:
Adopt, don’t shop: Offer a forever home to one of the wonderful rescue dogs who’re desperate to be part of your family.
Decide what type, size and breed of dog you want: Is it a lap dog that’s easy to carry around, or is dad the macho man who wants a larger breed? Maybe you’re divided? No problem, opt for a medium-sized dog like a Beagle, a Cocker Spaniel or a Cairn Terrier, etc.
Puppy v adult: A puppy requires training and socialising, especially during the first six months of his/her life. Do you have the patience for this? Are you prepared for little puddles around the house and chewed furniture? Also, if your puppy is a cross-breed, are you prepared for the fact he/she may grow up to be an entirely different looking dog?
An adult dog is always a good choice because you get an idea of their energy levels and temperament when you visit the shelter. In short, what you see is what you get. However, adult dogs don’t equal trained dogs, so expect some degree of training to be involved.
Older dogs: Seniors are often left on the shelf and need love just as much as cute puppies. They make wonderful companions, especially if you’re looking for a dog with low energy levels. However, with senior dogs come some health problems and this can be costly.
Remember: Whichever breed you opt for, your dog will require annual boosters, regular flea and worming treatments, food, leads, collars, kennelling if you’re on holiday, pet insurance, a license, treats, toys and beds, etc. Taking into account all of these, an animal who’s properly taken care of, makes regular trips to the vet, leading to a healthy life for approximately 15 plus years, could potentially cost as much as €30,000! Too much? Don’t get a dog! That said, kids and dogs go hand in hand and I think most readers will agree that children raised with pets make for more humane and compassionate adults; and having a loving four-legged friend creates a unique bond that’ll last a lifetime. In addition, I believe a pet will create empathy and raise a child’s self-esteem, providing unconditional love and stability in a sometimes unstable world because no matter what else goes on in a child’s life, a dog still needs walking, feeding and grooming and this keeps the entire family in a routine.
However, the key to enjoying the most satisfying relationship with your pet is choosing one that suits your family’s lifestyle. Remember, this is Roscommon, not a Disney movie, meaning not all dogs are like Lassie!