What’s it like to be a dog owner?

As all my regular readers probably know, I am the proud owner/mammy of an 18 month of Beagle named Winter. As anyone who has been the owner/mammy of a beagle can tell you, they are as a breed little more than a mass of barely controlled enthusiasm and hyper-activity. Actually that is a major part of their appeal. You’re never, ever bored with a young Beagle in the house. But this post isn’t about Beagles. No it’s about being a dog owner.

So what’s that like?

Imagine having a baby who will never learn to speak. Neither will they ever become very independant. And you can forget about them moving out and getting their own place. No they’ll continue to be food eating, crap producing, four-legged engines of occassional destruction ’til the day they die. And then they’ll leave you bereft, heart-broken and in mourning for months or even years. Sounds kind of horrible doesn’t it?

Well that’s just for starters. There’s going out walking with them, even when the rain is more like a vertical river than a soft summer shower. There’s cleaning the puddles of vomit up when they get sick in the car. Or if you’re me there’s that, and sitting in the passenger seat, with your legs drenched by puppy pee for two hours, because your beloved pooch got scared.

There’s the puppy deciding that at 5am she’s had enough sleep, and that so have you. So she decides to head butt the door of the bathroom she sleeps in, until you’re awake. I kid you not, Winter genuinely head butts the door. I’ve seen her do it.

There’s the puppy deciding that her two mommies will never again get to enjoy a sex life. Yes Winter Godzilla Condron Harper has a new middle name, Passion-Killer. She won this name in the still ongoing Grand Battle for the Center of the Bed.

And you can forget going out for the night, and staying out. House dogs don’t like being left out in the back yard overnight. And a young dog especially will often become destructive out of anxiety, if separated from her owners for too long. Add in the now constant worry of your puppy being stolen by some utterly, contemptible bastard for her monetary value. Especially if she’s a pure-breed, and not the monstrous offspring of a tryst between an Old English Sheep Dog and a Bichon Frise. So if you want to go out for more than a couple of hours a doggy-sitter needs to be found. Well that’s considerably easier said than done. Especially if your bundle of hyper activity has gone past the adorable puppy phase.

But worst of all is the horror of what we here in the sprawling, towering one story edifice of Rumination Towers call, Poop-Patrol. A Beagle is not a particularly large dog, but apparently nature forgot to tell their bowels that. So instead of small, easily dealt with piles of poop, in keeping with their breeds modest size, Winter drops the sort of loads a Great Dane would be distinctly, even smugly proud of. So it often falls to your heroic blogger, Amanda Harper, to go forth, armed with little more than a short rake, a short shovel and a hazardous materials suit, to do battle with the immense mounds of dog crap which litter our back garden, after her average ten craps a day.

So by now, if you’re not a fellow dog owner/mammy, you’re wondering why anyone in possession of any sort of sanity would choose to have one. Well put simply, because there’s nothing better in life than to be the owner of a loving dog. Yes there are sacrifices attached to owning a dog. They are demanding animals, who by their nature need their pack; their owner and her/his family, around them to feel secure and happy. But in return they give absolutely unconditional love and adoration. After all the difference between dogs and cats can often be summed up by the fact that an abused dog will usually stay with their owner come hell and high water. While a cat will often simply wander off and find somewhere more to in keeping with its own tastes.

We got Winter because I am often housebound for days, even weeks on end and I needed some company when that happened. Also because we both missed having a dog around us, after all once a dog owner, always a dog owner. Frankly despite the poop, the vomit, the pee soaking into and destroying my only pair of jeans, getting her was the best decision we ever made together. You see you’re never lonely with a dog, you’re never bored, you’re never unloved, you’re always needed, you will always be the center of someone’s universe. When you have a dog you’ll never go without affection, and because they give so much to you, you’ll always push yourself that little bit harder to do what’s needed for them. And that for a young woman with a chronic illness means a healthier, happier and more enjoyable life.

Put simply for all the difficulties, and the problems.  For all that they live considerably shorter lives than us.  Being a dog owner is simply wonderful.

So should you get a dog? That depends on whether you have the space, the time, the energy and most of all the dedication to do what it takes to keep them safe, well fed and healthy, both emotionally and physically. If the answer is, yes, you almost certainly won’t regret it. If the answer is, no, then don’t be selfish. Let someone who can be the owner that dog deserves have their chance instead.

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