I know that the AKC's Responsible Dog Ownership was back in September, but I just couldn't keep this bottled up until next September. I hate the intrusion of government into our lives, but, I figure as long as they're there, why not legislate things that really matter? You should have to take (and pass) a test before being allowed to own a dog, or more importantly, have a child. Because, you see, I think these two topics are more closely related than many people are willing to admit. Raising a puppy takes less commitment and patience than raising a child, and that commitment is shorter! My husband and I have met many dog owners through our 16 year marriage. We've taught agility and obedience classes, done some dog grooming, and met folks just out and about while walking our poos. I'm always surprised at some of the things that people tell me. You'd think I would be used to it by now, but no, I'm not. One lady told me that her 2 year old cocker spaniel was an outdoor dog because they "didn't have the patience to make her an indoor dog". Well, then you don't have the patience for a dog. Period.
Then there's the folks who claim that they "can't afford the good dog food". So, what are you feeding your kids? Leaves and grubworms? Money is an issue, as it is in most things. While it shouldn't be the single contributory factor in any decision you make, it should at least make the top 5. If you can't afford to take your dog to the vet on a regular basis, you can't afford to feed a dog food that isn't made totally of sawdust, and you don't want to spend time with your dog, then why have one? Status symbol? Tax write off? Because you love the aroma of fresh poop mixed with that summer morning dew? Dogs are pack animals, and thrive on companionship of humans and dogs, not the dogwood in the back yard.
We were regular guests on a radio show where we would answer dog related questions. I couldn't get over how many dogs were thrown in the back yard to fend for themselves, no shelter, no companionship, not even an occasional walk around the block. And these surprised lab owners would say, "But he won't quit digging", or "he's chewing on the patio furniture"...well, DUH! Your dog is slowly going insane! Or, the owners who come home after a busy day at work, and want the dog to just leave them alone. Yeah, right! I equate it to your 7 year old who is stuck inside all weekend because it's been raining- by Sunday afternoon, you want to kill them! Why? Because they need the exercise! Your dogs have been asleep on the couch all day, saving up their energy so they can spend some quality time with you when you get home!
So, if you're thinking about getting that dog, or having that first, second (or heaven's no, third) child, think about your entire life. Can you afford it, not only financially but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well? If the answer is no, then please don't!