A writer searches for the perfect dog in The Quest For Dog

Dogs shouldn’t be brought into your home on a whim. Making sure you and your new addition are the right fit requires research, dedication, and planning. With the hope of finding the perfect furry companion, Amanda Schlee begins her dog-search adventures. As she journals her experiences, challenges and discoveries on the path to dog ownership, follow her journey.

I’ve always loved dogs since I was a child. Until recently, a trip to the mall was never complete without a visit to the pet store. My age is late 20s, and some women my age seem to be baby crazy, but I am dog crazy. Only one of my friends owns a dog, and I’m the only one. Nevertheless, I live in Oakville, a dog-friendly town where there are more veterinarians than doctors. In our family-sized home without any babies or pets, I live with my husband (we’re newlyweds for two more weeks!)

As a child, I always wanted a dog. It may have been the third child syndrome, but I knew I would love dogs and wanted one; I have never really been around dogs. My parents were constantly nagging me to get a dog, promising that I would walk it, feed it, and take care of it (for a six-year-old, I made big promises). When Roxy, our beagle, was finally brought home, it was the best day of my childhood.

My parents saw an advertisement in the newspaper for beagle puppies for sale; we went to the farm, picked her out and brought her home. Roxy, as well as her parents, had no paperwork or health clearances when we had her for 10 years, but she was healthy and a wonderful companion.

Sooner rather than later, my husband and I hope to get our own dog. I am aware of how much a pet will change our lifestyle, however, and I am not certain we can take on the responsibility of a dog right now. Besides that, we can’t even agree on what breed we both want.

All dogs have their own unique traits, just like people. As a dog, I would be a “master of research, organization, and planning”. Because there is so much to consider when it comes to different breeds, I am constantly learning about them. When the time comes, I will be able to put them on my yay or nay list and, when the time comes, all my research will be complete.

Our biggest challenge right now is time away from the house, which is keeping us from getting a dog. Our dog would be home alone for 10 hours a day between work and commuting. In addition to sleeping, dogs like to see their owners and take bathroom breaks throughout the day. I don’t think this length of time alone is fair to a dog, especially a puppy.

Anyone considering getting a dog should determine if they have the time for one. Would you be able to wake up earlier in the morning and walk it before going to work? Can your dog take a mid-day bathroom break? In the evenings and on weekends, do you have time to walk it and spend quality time with it? This isn’t just a couple of times a week; this is a daily commitment for the next 10+ years. You could end up with a stressed out dog if you don’t think about these things ahead of time. Roxy taught me that dogs are like kids, kids who never grow up. Parents considering a family pet, don’t believe your six-year-old’s promises; in fact, few teenagers are willing to help. You may as well consider yourself down a few helpful hands (or feet).

Start thinking about the financial responsibilities of owning a dog once you have considered the time factor. An adult pure bread dog would cost anywhere between $900 and $1500 from a reputable breeder, and spaying or neutering would cost another couple of hundred dollars. In terms of finances, you need to decide whether you have the extra funds to pay for food, toys, training lessons, annual vet checkups, and medications if your dog needs them in the future. If an unexpected pet expense arises, are you willing to sacrifice something for yourself? I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but if you truly love and care for your pet, his or her life becomes more than just about you.

The next step is to think about breeds you like. Let’s start with size; do you prefer small or large breeds? Is everyone involved in taking care of your dog on the same page? Can you accommodate a large dog (if that’s what you like)? Having the same preference for medium to large breeds is one thing my husband and I agree on when it comes to dogs (that’s one check mark for us). If it were up to my husband, we’d have a Bernese Mountain dog or a Newfoundland dog, with long black fur covering the entire house; something I’m not keen on.

Check out a pet magazine, keep researching on PetGuide.com, and ask your neighbors what type of dog theirs is (if you think it’s cute) while you’re walking your own dog. Visiting parks with off-leash dog areas is another great way to see a variety of breeds and start your research. Basically, if I see a cute dog, I look it up! It’s important to see pictures of both puppies and grown-ups of breeds since all puppies are cute. Make a yay or nay list based solely on their size and appearance. Once you have this going, you can learn everything you can about the yay list and decide which breeds suit you.

In order to continue to share with you what I take into consideration when considering a dog’s personality, I hope to share with you what I take into consideration, as well as vice versa. It would be great if you could share any information about your own dog with me, after all that really is the best kind of research.

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