Ask Mr. Manners

Man’s best friend

I came home two weeks ago to my partner informing me that we would soon be adopting a dog. He did not know which dog, when it would happen or where we would begin our search, but the hunt for a puppy was afoot. We began our search at the Best Friends adoption shelter in Sugar House and, without warning, fell in love with a dog which was much bigger and required more space than our downtown loft could provide. So we embarked on the journey to decide if we were ready to be parents to a dog, and what the full scope of the responsibility entails.

Adopting a dog sounds easy enough. You go to the shelter, pick a puppy, pay the adoption fee, and you are on your way. We really loved the idea of a shelter because they traditionally spay or neuter the pets you adopt, and you have the option to have a microchip placed in the animal to assist in tracking it. As we looked past the nominal adoption fee, we started to calculate the other expenses which would surmount. Veterinary care, a training crate, obedience classes, food, grooming, chew toys, and miscellaneous supplies (bowls, beds, brushes, shampoos, flea products, odor neutralizers for accidents, leashes, collars, heart worm prevention, etc.) all started adding up and our heads were spinning. As we crunched the numbers, we found that we would need $500 as an initial startup investment in our dog, and this was an expense we were just not expecting.

But beyond the cost of a pet, we also were evaluating how much of our free time and energy would be spent on the pet. Various breeds and ages of dog make different demands on our precious spare time. In general, the sporting, hounds, herding, and terrier breeds will demand more time in training and daily exercise than will the guardian or companion breeds. A puppy or adolescent will need more exercise, training and supervision than an adult dog. And the first year with any new dog regardless of age or breed will put more demands on the owner than any other time, for this is when you are setting up house rules and routines which will last the lifetime of your dog.

“Select” is defined in the dictionary with such phrases as “a preferred choice” or “carefully chosen.” Selecting the pet should be a well-researched and carefully soul-searched activity. After many conversations, and even a second trip to the animal shelter to see the dog again, we are still on the fence about if this is the right animal for us. However, the lessons we learned along the way have helped us learn more about each other, and ultimately prepared us for when we are ready to take the plunge and become fathers.

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