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Fri, Feb. 21

All About Pets: One question: Do you really want a dog?
All about Pets

Every dog needs a job, even if it is just keeping a watchful eye out for those very dangerous lizards! that lurk in the bushes. (Christy Powers/Courier)

Every dog needs a job, even if it is just keeping a watchful eye out for those very dangerous lizards! that lurk in the bushes. (Christy Powers/Courier)

Spring is coming, we hope! And it is a time when lots of families begin to think that it would be great to have a dog. And certainly all the adoption agencies are eager to welcome you.

But before making that big step, bringing a new creature into your home, ask yourself some questions. A dog is a commitment that spans 12 to 15 years, and more if you are fortunate! It is nothing to be taken lightly.

Think about it. Why do you want a dog? That may seem like an obvious question, but it has many ramifications. Take a very honest and close look at your lifestyle. Where do you live? How do you live? What is your daily routine? Are you active or kind of a couch potato?

Many books and stories have been written about the joys of owning a dog, all the things they bring to your life and the love they have to give. We are less likely to read the book or story about the pups that were tossed out of cars (I have one of those) or the poor miserable creatures who are tied to a tree 24 hours a day or who just live their entire lives in someones back yard. There are many also, that are returned to the shelter because of a behavior problem, they were not working out, they were too much work or the people did not have enough time for them.

Dogs are some of the most giving creatures on earth. But they have needs as well. Besides the basics of food, water and a fenced yard, they need attention, love, exercise, vet care, grooming and training, to name a few.

There are dogs available for most any lifestyle. But to make that match, once again give it some serious thought.

Do you live in an apartment? Do you work full time away from home? Do you travel for your work? What expectations do you have for this dog?

Besides the basic question: Do you really want a dog? Think about the following question: If you decide that you want a dog, what kind of a dog would be the best fit for your lifestyle?

Dogs have been bred through the centuries to fill specific jobs. They were protectors, hunters and herders. The helped in every way with life on the farm. They have been put to work in search and rescue, and we are seeing them more and more as service dogs. They fill a wonderful role as therapy dogs, visiting the sick and cheering them up. And more and more, we are seeing their value with Alzheimer’s patients.

The point here is, dogs were bred to work. They want to have a job.

So as you are examining your desire to have a dog and are honestly looking at your life style, think about what you have to offer to a dog and what kind of dog would best fit into your lifestyle.

All puppies are adorable, but not every home should have a puppy. Not every home should have a very active little terrier. Not every home should have a large retriever type that sheds and needs lots of exercise.

Do I want a working dog, a hiking companion, a sports competition dog or a lap dog? These are vital considerations. If I am gone all day, is it fair to leave a dog home alone. Maybe I should have two dogs. But remember, you should not get two dogs at the same time - there are exceptions naturally, but each dog needs time to bond with their new person.

Give it some thought. Big or small, young or older, active or couch potato: Take your time and make the right choice for you and for the dog.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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