Is it just a dog?

Been thinking about getting a dog? Think again! Before you get yourself a cute little fur ball or tie a ribbon around it’s neck and gift it to an unsuspecting friend, STOP! Think long and hard about it. Even if you grew up with dogs, this is still going to be different. Gone are the days when a dog was kept outside the home in the garden and fed leftovers. Dogs today share small living spaces with us and become family. So, do indulge in some long hard thinking. And when you are done thinking, research. Find friends who share your lifestyle and have a dog. Have long conversations with them about the joy and challenges of having a dog. Visit them frequently. Pet-sit if possible. Foster a puppy from a shelter, if possible. Experience what it’s like to have a puppy, a juvenile and a grown dog at home. You can never be too prepared.

You will most likely outlive your dog! Yeah, I’m stating the obvious. But it’s the implications that matter. You will be seeing your dog from the potty training days through to the adult-diaper days. From the teething days to the toothless feeding days. From the growth pain days to the arthritis days…you get the drift. Yes, dogs go through all

those and no, the amenities are not there and the few amenities that are there cost a bomb. Now then, if your wallet, brain and heart have reached consensus on the matter of getting a dog, then welcome to my club — Pet Parenthood. I enjoy every facet and moment of it and am happy to be sharing a slice with you.

The very first question on your mind is perhaps, “Which puppy do I get?” Dogs come in as many personality types as one can imagine. Aloof broody ones, clingy needy ones, frisky ones…I wanted an interactive cuddly dog. My husband wanted an interactive frisky one. Nishi is our interactive but not too cuddly one. Tigger is our cuddly one. If you remember that they are personalities, you will find a compatible companion.

To get that perfect dog you will need to visit the dog several times. Just like us, dogs too have good and bad days. Construction next door, a sibling who got adopted yesterday, the nanny on leave, just before a meal, just after a meal — all of it can make a big difference. And while you are making several trips to the breeder, do consider visiting a shelter too. You never know, your ideal dog may not be a puppy, but a cute labrador teenager or a shy old boxer. Adult dogs will also spare you the hassle of toilet training and the destruction of teething. Keep your mind open and look not for the ‘label’, but for the ‘soul’ when looking for that soulmate. Which of us does not have the picture of sitting with our dog watching the sunset on the horizon?

Here’s a parting thought: I advocate adoption. But if you decide to buy, do spare a thought to the fact that “breeding” is infact the “business of creating life”. So engage with the breeder. Ensure that the breeder understands and respects the sanctity of this business, thus handles it with utmost and due care. Have a pawsome week!

This article was published in Bangalore Mirror in February 2014


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