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honest opinions about experiences with dogs

my husband and I have toyed with the idea of getting a dog for awhiley when we get raises, have more time...the usual excuses.  well, it seems like that time may be now.  he just got a job with a great raise so we can afford vet bills. food, etc.  i have a job with a ton of flexibility so i could work from the office in the mornings and work from home in the afternoon, or work from home several days a week.  i also will be getting a big promotion/raise in March which would make the financial situation even better.  we always wanted a dog before having kids, and as that seems to be coming onto the horizon in the next few years, now may be a good time for a  dog.  i would love to adopt an older dog, but the shelters around here are very strict and will not adopt to first time dog owners.  i would love to hear your brutally honest opinions about being dog owners...likes, dislikes, challenges, what you wish you had known before you got a dog.  thank you in advance and sorry for the horrible formatting. i am on my phone and it seems to dislike punctuation and capitalization.
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Re: honest opinions about experiences with dogs

  • Congrats on getting a dog, and being willing to get a dog considered "unwanted" by many--an older, shelter dog.

    Have you looked on Petfinder?  They can show you dogs near you at rescues you may not know about.  I'm sure one of them would let first time dog owners adopt, especially if you want an older dog and not a puppy.

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  • Owning a dog is awesome.  It's just like owning a kid in the respect that both make messes, both frustrate the bajesus out of you, but you love both of them!

    I love adopting older dogs, as I am not very puppy patient.  We have a puppy now, and I'm pulling my hair out with all of the messes.  For first time owners, I would highly recommend an older dog.  Have you contacted local rescues?  They may be willing to adopt to first time dog owners. 

    EDIT: I re-read that and I am laughing at "owning a kid"... I'm leaving that in for the laughs. 

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  • It was a huge adjustment for us.  HUGE.  I grew up with cats and H grew up with no pets.  We'd had our cats for a year when we adopted our dog (an adult shelter dog).  No more sleeping in, no more being lazy after work, no more spontaneous wekeend trips, etc.  The adjustment was enormous.

    We also adopted a mess of a dog with crazy herding instincts, prey drive (we have 3 cats), and energy level.  You won't make that mistake, right? :)

    Can you give us an idea of where you live?  Maybe we could help find a shelter or rescue that would be open to adopting to first time dog owners.  Don't get me started on how ridiculous that is to me, BTW.  If my group wouldn't adopt to first time dog owners, half of our dogs would never get adopted.

    What are you looking for in a dog?  Size, temperament, energy level, appearance (if it matters to you), etc?

  • Congrats on potentially getting a dog!

    H and I got our first dog this past summer. We brought her home as an 8-week old puppy the breeder we chose after much thought and research.

    The first couple of months were the roughest. We were getting up in the middle of the night a lot to avoid any midnight potty accidents, so we were a bit sleep deprived! For us, training in general went incredibly smoothly, and she picked up things very fast.

    She's 9 months old now, and a total lovebug. She's got a sweet and loving temperament, adores meeting new people and new dogs, and loves nothing better than a trip to the dog park and a good snuggle with her people. From all I've heard and read about Boxers, either we were incredible trainers (for having no experience), or we got a seriously easy dog! They're not all that easy.

    Working full-time meant without a doubt that we wanted her crate trained to ensure she was contained and safe during the workday. Again, crate training went very smoothly for us, but I also knew I had to ignore any whining or barking from her. She had to learn that the crate was a great place and that she didn't get let out just because she made a lot of noise. She sits quietly in there now, and we let her out on our schedule (not when she's making noise, which only still happens if it gets a little later on a weekend morning than she's used to).

    Honestly, it's been a really positive experience for us. She chewed up our Comcast remote pretty well, and is shredding the blanket we put over her crate little by little, but those are really the biggest "casualties" we've had with her (along with a pen or 2).

    I think you'll have a great dog experience if you dedicate the time and effort into training well, giving attention, and exercising/mentally stimulating whatever dog you get (every dog requires a different amount of stimulation, so find one that suits your activity levels/needs!). :)

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  • I would think shelters/rescues would prefer 1st time owners to get an older dog. Keep looking, you'll find the right place that will be more than happy to work with you.
    The next thing I would do, would be to research breeds. It's important to know what type of characteristics you're looking for. A couch potato? A jogging companion? Size? Coat length? All sorts of things.
    My recommendation would be a mutt. If you know what sort of dog you are looking for, it will help narrow your search. Unfortunately, there are no shortages of dogs looking for a good home.
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  • Being brutally honest - it's a lot of work. Even with a relatively easy dog. Especially if you are used to doing things like going out for dinner on weeknights or are the kind of people who don't spend a lot of time at home.

    Two and a half years later, I'm still having to constantly remind DH "No, we can't do that tonight, B's been crated all day." Same goes for vacations - even weekend trips need to be planned in advance so that we can either plan to take him with us or kennel him or find someone to watch him. We're to the point now where we usually can take him with us almost everywhere, but everything takes a little more planning.

    Also, B wasn't neutered until we adopted him at 4 years old. So he marks in the house unless we watch him like a hawk. It has gotten considerably better over time, and we can usually go 3 to 4 months before there is a change in schedule or circumstances, which is usually when it occurs. But with belly bands and now a special pheromone collar, he has improved even more. When he marked things like the couch, new carpet and curtains, it led to some pretty big fights between DH and myself, I'll admit. But you clean it up, work on finding a solution and move on.

    At least for us, those were the biggest changes to our lifestyle. Are they worth it? More than I can put into words. B is always so excited to see me come home and I'd much rather cuddle with him and my husband on the couch than go out to dinner now.  I've learned to play fetch for hours, just because it makes him so happy. My family thinks I've gone a little nuts, and maybe they are right  - I've had my heart stolen by a little black dog and I can't imagine anything better.

    And like previous posters have said -where do you live and what kind of dog are you looking for? The perfect dog is out there for you somewhere, just waiting! 

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  • image jeepsareforgirls:

    Being brutally honest - it's a lot of work. Even with a relatively easy dog. Especially if you are used to doing things like going out for dinner on weeknights or are the kind of people who don't spend a lot of time at home.

    Two and a half years later, I'm still having to constantly remind DH "No, we can't do that tonight, B's been crated all day." Same goes for vacations - even weekend trips need to be planned in advance so that we can either plan to take him with us or kennel him or find someone to watch him. We're to the point now where we usually can take him with us almost everywhere, but everything takes a little more planning.

    Also, B wasn't neutered until we adopted him at 4 years old. So he marks in the house unless we watch him like a hawk. It has gotten considerably better over time, and we can usually go 3 to 4 months before there is a change in schedule or circumstances, which is usually when it occurs. But with belly bands and now a special pheromone collar, he has improved even more. When he marked things like the couch, new carpet and curtains, it led to some pretty big fights between DH and myself, I'll admit. But you clean it up, work on finding a solution and move on.

    At least for us, those were the biggest changes to our lifestyle. Are they worth it? More than I can put into words. B is always so excited to see me come home and I'd much rather cuddle with him and my husband on the couch than go out to dinner now.  I've learned to play fetch for hours, just because it makes him so happy. My family thinks I've gone a little nuts, and maybe they are right  - I've had my heart stolen by a little black dog and I can't imagine anything better.

    And like previous posters have said -where do you live and what kind of dog are you looking for? The perfect dog is out there for you somewhere, just waiting! 

    You made a lot of really good points I totally didn't even think about! I guess we didn't go out much to begin with, but it's true that getting home after work, you really can't turn around and decide to go back out to eat if the pup has been alone/crated all day already. I feel awful if we absolutely need to go out at night after work, because Zoey is soooooo happy to see H and I, and I just can't bring myself to say "oh well, bye bye!" That would just be too mean to her. Life adjustments do get made for the dog! Hahaha!

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  • Thank you so much for all the responses! 

     1. We would like to adopt an older dog but are not ruling out a puppy (from a responsible and reputable breeder).  I've heard about so many cases of shelter dogs being abused and as first-time owners I'm not sure that we're properly equipped to handle these issues.  I understand that there's absolutely no guarantee that a puppy wouldn't have issues, too, but some rescue dogs may be more than we can handle.

    2.  We live in the Western suburbs of Philly- I'll start doing research on some of the organizations around us to find out about adopting older dogs.

    3. This is a dumb first-time owner question.  Is it better to get two dogs at once so that they won't be alone while we're at work?  I have the flexibility at work now, but there's a very slim chance that I will stay at this job for the next 40 years until I retire!  I know that dogs do well with companionship and don't like to be alone.  (Random side note: did anyone see Bridesmaids?  I will not be like the sister-in-law who took nine puppies at the shower and "may have overcommitted.")  

    4. Our preferences for a dog are somewhat general.  Medium or large.  I would like a dog with floppy ears because they are cute.  My husband would like a dog with short hair.  We prefer no drooling. 

    5.  Proper training is a must.  We plan on signing up for behavior classes before we take home whichever dog we decide to give a home.  I will absolutely put in the work necessary to train the dog because I think everyone ends up happier that way. 

  • I have no dislikes, but having a dog isn't for everyone.  It's a commitment that could likely last 10+ years even if you adopt an adult.  It means you probably can't drop everything to go on a last minute vacation and you might have to run to the emergency vet at midnight for some reason.  Depending on the dog you get, they might need intense exercise everyday, rain, snow, or shine. 

    All that said, I love having a dog.  I've had dogs my entire life and the one year between my dog dying and adopting Kali was so lonely for me.  I love the companionship she brings me, her personality, and the way I can tell how much she loves me.  I wouldn't trade having a dog for anything.  She may not be perfect, but she's perfect for us.  

    As for challenges, there will be many.  I definitely suggest crate training and either training the dog yourself or taking them for a basic obedience class.  We trained our dog through her CGC and then took her to formal training when we were considering competing with her (we did not).  Either way works IMO.  I also think food is very important.  When we adopted our dog she had almost no hair because of the crap food she was on.  She was so itchy and miserable and it took probably a good 6 months for her to get really healthy. 

    Good luck! 

     

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  • What would you think of a retired racing greyhound?  We have been fostering them for almost 3 years and they are amazing dogs.  They are super well socialized with people and other dogs from birth.  You adopt them as (young) adults, since they retire starting at 18 months of age, up to 5 years.  They walk superbly on leash, and they've been crate trained since 6 months.  Most are really well house broken by the time you get them, and most live in foster homes before being adopted.  Our greyhounds have been the easiest dogs we've ever had.  They are low energy (which surprises people, but it's very true).  We walk our grey once daily, about a half hour.  Our Kelpie needs at least 2 hours of exercise a day (and walking doesn't count...it has to be running).  Our grey sleeps most of the day, but is always up for whatever we want to do: car ride, walk, dog park, etc.  They're awesome dogs, and are generally very easy for first time dog owners.

    This is a reputable group near you...check them out!

  • 1.  While its possible that a dog from a shelter or rescue may have been abused, keep in mind this is far from the case across the board.  Just as an example-my first (on my own) dog Georgie ended up at the shelter after she was found as a stray, so we knew absolutely zero history on her.  Turns out she was housetrained, crate trained, and knew basic tricks and to not chew on people stuff.  Her little brother, Eddie, came from a large scale hoarding/dogfighting bust.  He lived outside for the first 8 months of his life, and was scared of everything.  Hell, he still is scared of almost everything (I say "almost" thanks to his Prozac).  But since he was in a foster home, we kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into (though we didn't prepare ourselves the way we shouldve, but that was our own fault) so it was a rough first couple of months but things are great now.  Try looking at dogs that are placed in foster homes-that way, the foster family will be able to give you a lot more information about the dog's disposition and any issues they may have.

    2.  There are quite a few Philly area girls here, hopefully they can pipe up with some suggestions :)

    3.  Two dogs at once will totally depend on the dogs.  I would not get two puppies at once, but that's just me.  We got Georgie in April 2009 and Eddie in October 2011 and that was a great time span for us.

    4.  I'm a fan of beagle mixes myself-that's what Georgie is and she is seriously a great dog.  She has the beagle nose and love of food but hardly barks and has the sweetest hound eyes :)  Eddie is a pit mix so I'm partial to those too.

    5.  Good for you!  You definitely sound like you're on the right track.  With some time and research I'm sure you'll find the dog that's right for you :)

  • Honestly, I love having my dogs around and they give me reason to get out of bed every day. Before adopting a dog i would do some research on the breed (or breeds). Each dog will be different, but some traits are just there. My husband really really really wanted an English bulldog. I had no idea how stubborn they are. And when they are 80 lbs there is little you can do to force them to do whatever it is they don't want to do. If I ever get another dog it will be a pit or pit mix or something else eager to please.
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  • image OSULori:

    1.  While its possible that a dog from a shelter or rescue may have been abused, keep in mind this is far from the case across the board.  Just as an example-my first (on my own) dog Georgie ended up at the shelter after she was found as a stray, so we knew absolutely zero history on her.  Turns out she was housetrained, crate trained, and knew basic tricks and to not chew on people stuff.

    It's true.  Georgie's perfect :)

  • We actually have several ladies who live in the Philly area and work with a variety of shelters and rescue groups. Hopefully one of them will see your post and be able to help match you with a group!

    As for your concern about dogs being abused before they go to shelters or rescues, while that can be the case sometimes, there are also many dogs that their families just couldn't (didn't want to) care for them anymore, especially in this economy.

     

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  • image ColoradoFan:

    Thank you so much for all the responses! 

     1. We would like to adopt an older dog but are not ruling out a puppy (from a responsible and reputable breeder).  I've heard about so many cases of shelter dogs being abused and as first-time owners I'm not sure that we're properly equipped to handle these issues.  I understand that there's absolutely no guarantee that a puppy wouldn't have issues, too, but some rescue dogs may be more than we can handle.  Just keep in mind that the majority of dogs that end up in shelters or rescues aren't there because of abuse/neglect. They're there because someone was too lazy/uninformed to properly train the dog, moved and chose a place they couldn't take the dog, picked up a cute puppy and then didn't want it anymore when it grew up, etc. A LOT of shelter dogs are there just because the humans who had them wouldn't make the lifetime commitment needed.

    2.  We live in the Western suburbs of Philly- I'll start doing research on some of the organizations around us to find out about adopting older dogs. I'm just north of Philly!! One of the board regulars can give you TONS of info on shelters in the area. You might try are PAWS; it's in the north Philly area.

    3. This is a dumb first-time owner question.  Is it better to get two dogs at once so that they won't be alone while we're at work?  I have the flexibility at work now, but there's a very slim chance that I will stay at this job for the next 40 years until I retire!  I know that dogs do well with companionship and don't like to be alone.  (Random side note: did anyone see Bridesmaids?  I will not be like the sister-in-law who took nine puppies at the shower and "may have overcommitted.") NO! As a first-time owner, you're going to want to be able to focus on ONE dog when it comes to training, exercise, mental stimulation, etc. While it's great to get 2 cats/kittens at a time, because they really will burn off each other's energy, 2 dogs will also feed off each other's good OR bad habits, and it's likely to be more than a first-time owner, heck even a second- or third-time ownder, can handle all at once. 

    4. Our preferences for a dog are somewhat general.  Medium or large.  I would like a dog with floppy ears because they are cute.  My husband would like a dog with short hair.  We prefer no drooling.  Keep your eyes out for any dog that fits these characteristics, but remember that if you go to to a shelter, a dog that doesn't fit your ideas might just steal your heart with his/her personality. You can type in certain criteria on Petfinder, but meeting a dog in person is the best way to guage things like "not being a drooler," lol.

    5.  Proper training is a must.  We plan on signing up for behavior classes before we take home whichever dog we decide to give a home.  I will absolutely put in the work necessary to train the dog because I think everyone ends up happier that way.  Awesome!

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  • In response to OP's response:
    1. Many shelter dogs are not damaged/have baggage. That's a common misconception. Yes, some do but these issues are usually 1000x easier to deal with than training a puppy. A behaviorist will be able to help you work on any issues. Go visit a shelter, you will see most dogs are there because their owners couldn't care for them anymore, for whatever reason. Not because they are 'bad' dogs. Also, if you get a dog from a rescue, the foster family will be working on any bad habits & will be able to provide tips on how to continue with the training.
    IMO, an adult dog is WAY easier for a first timer than a puppy.
    3. Start with 1 dog. I have 2 older puppies & they are very over whelming at times. I've had a dog my whole life. This is my first time having 2. It's very challenging to say the least.
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  • image KatiesCats:
    image OSULori:

    1.  While its possible that a dog from a shelter or rescue may have been abused, keep in mind this is far from the case across the board.  Just as an example-my first (on my own) dog Georgie ended up at the shelter after she was found as a stray, so we knew absolutely zero history on her.  Turns out she was housetrained, crate trained, and knew basic tricks and to not chew on people stuff.

    It's true.  Georgie's perfect :)

    Except when she's whining.  At 3am.  Because she wants to sleep on my pillow.  (thank god she hasn't pulled that BS lately).  But yeah, other than being a little whiny she's damn near perfect ;)

  • I LOVE owning a dog. Seriously, more than I ever imagined. I have a very easy dog, though. He was about 8 when we adopted him, he's small and laid back, low-energy, he can't get on or off of furniture unless we move him. lol.  I love being able to take him out places (can't do that with the cats), and I love seeing his smiley face in the mornings and after work, and just watching him do whatever he does. Everything he does is cute to me. It's really hard to be mad at him about anything. He also doesn't eat a lot, so he isn't a huge expense.  But he does have to be on flea and heartworm preventative and see the groomer every couple of months.I thought I would hate having to take him outside to go to the bathroom, but it's really not a big deal - just something that you do.

    I guess the one downside is that I don't think he'll ever be fully housebroken. He will go outside, but if he has to go between trips out, he'll just go inside. Sometimes he poops inside right after taking him outside. And for awhile he was marking my ironing board, but we finally got that taken care of. We have been trying to bell train him w/o much success. Mostly we just keep an eye on him all the time unless he's crated or on the bed or couch (which he can't get down from).

    eta: We've only had him a year and a half and so far haven't gone out of town without him. We take road trips and find dog-friendly lodging. But making arrangements for trips is another thing you have to consider.

    I also don't think I would ever want a puppy - too much work for me.

  • I think it's great that you're thinking so far ahead with this instead of just getting a dog on a whim. A lot of people do that, and sometimes, it doesn't work out so well.

    Dogs are definitely a commitment, in terms of time and money. How "hard" it is, though, often depends on the individual dog. Some are super-easy, some are really challenging, and that can happen even within the same breed. Don't rule out a rescue. My first dog was a rescue, and he was fabulous. Dogs are surrendered for a lot of different reasons. People often give up young dogs because they didn't realize how much work they would be when they got that tiny puppy. Sometimes the owners die, or get too sick to care for them. With the crappy economy, a lot of people just can't afford them.

    If you go the breeder route, I would first of all make sure you really understand the breed you're interested in. I think a lot of people get so caught up in the how the breed looks that they don't seriously consider what it does and how it acts. Try to look past the adorable face and ask yourself if you can handle a dog that's going to be a big barker/big shedder/high-energy/guardy or whatever. I think the biggest key to success is trying to find a dog who will fit your lifestyle. And that obviously goes for mixes, too.

  • image ColoradoFan:

    2.  We live in the Western suburbs of Philly- I'll start doing research on some of the organizations around us to find out about adopting older dogs.

    I'm a shelter volunteer in Philly. There are a TON of shelters and rescues in the area that will adopt to first-time dog owners.  

    If you'd like to visit Philadelphia Animal Care and Control, or the PSPCA, or PAWS, I'd be happy to meet up with you (I volunteer with all three). 

  • We have a 20 month old chocolate lab, so not too long ago she was a puppy.  Not to scare you...but she was more work than our 6 month old human baby!    Not trying to talk you out of a puppy, but some pups can be more than a handful.

    I read that you want a medium/large dog, shorter hair and non-drooler.   But also think about the type of dog that would fit best with your lifestyle.   For example, my husband and I are really "outdoorsy" and athletic so we wanted a high-energy dog that would do well on hikes and swimming.  We prefer hiking off-leash so we wanted a breed that is typically friendly with other dogs and people.   We went through all those kinds of things to determine what breed we wanted.    

    And, I think it's awesome that you're considering an adult dog from a shelter.  Looks like you're getting a lot of great advice about how to find one! 

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  • I think a lot of this is dog specific.  For our first dog, we adopted a 2 year old beagle/bassett from a shelter.  Biggest challenge was and has been potty training him and dealing with his food allergies (from poor breeding I'm sure.)  He was really anxious at first and we did a lot of work with obedience classes, etc.  But now he is so seriously easy.  Sweet, gentle, affectionate, loves everyone, has good manners.  Recently we fostered a bulldog mix puppy and he had ENERGY.  We had to potty train, crate train, obedience train and exercise him two hours a day.  Plus he couldn't hold it more than 6 hours so we had to be careful with schedule planning.

    Basically, pick a dog that suits your needs.  I seriously doubt you can't find a shelter within a 60 mile radius that adopts to new dog owners; they'd never adopt any dogs out.  But if that's so, look into private rescues on petfinder.  usually the dogs are fostered in a home and so the foster parents can give you a good idea of personality, daily exercise requirements, etc and may have done a lot of work on potty training and crate training.

    Definitely for first time dog owners I would recommend an adult.  I thought fostering a puppy would be no big deal b.c. we're experienced owners and HOLY CRAP.  I was exhausted.

    ETA:  if you like floppy ears and short hair, I'd highly recommend bassetts.  There are a lot of breed specific rescues. They're very low key, low maintenance which makes them good for first time owners.  But they will track so you need to supervise them outside and some do howl (we trained mine not to)

    We knew when we got our dog from the shelter he would be some work because we knew he'd been neglected, but it hasn't been anywhere near as much work as I've experienced with puppies.  And if you met him now you would literally never know he spent two years of his life neglected; he is excited to meet everyone, go everywhere, and always has this giant smile plastered on his face. 

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  • FWIW, short hair dogs = more hair shedding issues than long haired dogs.

     just thought I'd throw that out there if that's the logic behind wanting short hair.

    (although long hair = needs more grooming)

     

    I think upkeep and energy are the 2 most important factors in  choosing a dog.  If your dog needs to be brushed daily and you don't have time for that, that will become an issue.  If your dog needs huge amounts of exercise and you can't provide that, that will become an issue.  If your dog is a couch potato and you're constantly trying to get the dog to play w/ you, that will be an issue.  

    Those are the important parts to match (and there are breed tendencies that come into play--ex-Dawg is a terrier mix--she has energy!  She's not a 'big' dog but she takes up more 'space' and time than a dog 2x her size--but there are exceptions to every rule and some of the preconceived doggie stereotypes are groundless) 

  • image GBCK:

    FWIW, short hair dogs = more hair shedding issues than long haired dogs.

     just thought I'd throw that out there if that's the logic behind wanting short hair.

    (although long hair = needs more grooming)

     

     

    I'm going to say this really depends on the dog too.
    I have a golden retriever/poodle mix, that is 'considered' non shedding. She sheds A LOT.
    I also have a short haired, blue heeler mix that is a minimal shedder.
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  • image GBCK:

    I think upkeep and energy are the 2 most important factors in  choosing a dog.  If your dog needs to be brushed daily and you don't have time for that, that will become an issue.  If your dog needs huge amounts of exercise and you can't provide that, that will become an issue.  If your dog is a couch potato and you're constantly trying to get the dog to play w/ you, that will be an issue.  

    Those are the important parts to match (and there are breed tendencies that come into play--ex-Dawg is a terrier mix--she has energy!  She's not a 'big' dog but she takes up more 'space' and time than a dog 2x her size--but there are exceptions to every rule and some of the preconceived doggie stereotypes are groundless) 

    This is so true. Having a dog definitely required a lifestyle change, but it has to be one that realistically is manageable for you. Some things are easier to accept than others, like no last minute trips or getting take out instead of eating out. But how much work you are able to put into the dog really needs to match how much work the dog needs.

    We have a shelter dog that we adopted as an older puppy (we don't know how old he was at the time.) Potty training was a breeze, but he was a submissive pee-er which took longer to deal with. The biggest "con" has been expenses: vet bills, boarding or pet fees at hotels, day care. But the pros are priceless. We have a pretty easy and amazing dog, low maintenance and well behaved. He's not smart enough to cause trouble and frankly he's so good and such an integral post of our family that his costs just don't seem like that much of a big deal.

    Master of Disguise
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  • would love to hear your brutally honest opinions about being dog owners...likes, dislikes, challenges, what you wish you had known before you got a dog.

    Likes:  unconditional love, someone that is always happy just to see you-- you can be a mess and s/he doesn't care.

    Dislikes:  It's not a thrill to get up at 5/6am on a Sunday in the driving rain/snow to trot around the block.  But that's more my own laziness than my dog's drama.

    Challenges: Being able to balance your schedule(s), so that you can get home from work early enough to shorten his/her time alone.

    Wish I'd known:  I've had dogs literally my whole life, so n/a.

    Extra bonus:  We have an English Setter, great breed for 1st timers I think.  Minimal shedding, no barking, good on walks but not crazy hi-energy, friendly but not a jumper/lap dog, good with kids/other animals, easy to train (positive reinforcement works wonders)-- one note: they do have bird sense-- meaning, even trained they can easily be distracted (aka disinterested) outside.  Not a problem as long as you walk her/him on leash or only let her/him off leash in controlled environments (fenced yards, dog park, etc).

    Above and Beyond is a great ES rescue in PA!

    GL

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  • If I were you I would probably get a 2-3 year old dog. One that has experience with being around kids. Probably a bully breed if it were ME... but I know that not everyone wants a bully breed.

    My likes of dog ownership: they're fun to be around. I like having companions. They're cute and warm and snuggly. I travel a lot and one of them always comes with me. I like having them around. I enjoy training them and since getting cosmo about 6 years ago I have really gotten into learning about many dog breeds, researching them, reading lots of books about dogs and training dogs and behavior etc.

    Dislikes: They are expensive. We have not even had any large medical issues, thank God, but they still cost us about $70 in month for food +treats, plus  about $800 in annual vet care, plus about $200 in non expected vet care per year. Thats not counting boarding fees, toys, beds, replacing anything they destroy, etc. 

    Challenges: One of our dogs is a herding breed which is not what we were originally told when we adopted him, He requires  A LOT of exercise, which is not what we were expecting. We are not a high exercise family... So it has  been very challenging getting him the exercise he needs to function normally.

    What I wish I had Known: How profoundly attached to them I would become. When something happens to them that I think might be wrong I immediately go into panic mode because i am so scared to lose one of them so young. I always liked dogs, but after having my own dogs I became much more attached to all dogs it seems like.

     

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  • image RedheadBaker:
    image ColoradoFan:

    2.  We live in the Western suburbs of Philly- I'll start doing research on some of the organizations around us to find out about adopting older dogs.

    I'm a shelter volunteer in Philly. There are a TON of shelters and rescues in the area that will adopt to first-time dog owners.  

    If you'd like to visit Philadelphia Animal Care and Control, or the PSPCA, or PAWS, I'd be happy to meet up with you (I volunteer with all three). 

     Thank you- that would be great!  Let me talk to my husband and see what he thinks about the process. 

     Thanks to everyone for their honest feedback- I really appreciate it!

  • image sakelp:

    What I wish I had Known: How profoundly attached to them I would become. When something happens to them that I think might be wrong I immediately go into panic mode because i am so scared to lose one of them so young. I always liked dogs, but after having my own dogs I became much more attached to all dogs it seems like.

     

    Yeah, this too, and it's a downside to adopting an older dog - you know your time with them is likely to be much shorter than it would have been with a younger dog. :( I knew I would probably become very attached to Bailey because I was already very attached to one of my cats, but before the cats, I had no idea how strong of a bond could form between a person and an animal who share a home day in and day out. I had outside pets growing up, and it wasn't the same. I get panicky thinking about having to let my heart kitty Emma and Bailey go someday.

  • image ColoradoFan:

    Thank you so much for all the responses! 

     1. We would like to adopt an older dog but are not ruling out a puppy (from a responsible and reputable breeder).  I've heard about so many cases of shelter dogs being abused and as first-time owners I'm not sure that we're properly equipped to handle these issues.  I understand that there's absolutely no guarantee that a puppy wouldn't have issues, too, but some rescue dogs may be more than we can handle.

    Please do not think that most shelter dogs were abused or have issues.  This is a common misconception.  In reality, the #1 reason a dog is dumped is the family is moving.  Reason #2 is a new baby and the family doesn't have "time" for the dog anymore.  My dog was dumped because she was owned by a young girl who simply lost interest in her when she was no longer a cute little puppy.  She is the best dog in the world!!

    Ok now that that is out of the way lol - my comments are much like the others.  You will run your life around your dog.  You are lucky though that you have a flexible work schedule so you don't have to worry so much about the dog being inside alone all day and needing to spend your evenings with him.  Our dog had some separation anxiety but we were able to work through that.   Having a dog is the biggest blessing and completely worth the sacrifices we make. 

    Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."
    - Martin Luther King Jr.
    BabyFruit Ticker
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