Being in university can simultaneously be full of friends and great people, as well as being super lonely. Although classmates are helpful and life long friends can be made, many of us are still away from our families and childhood homes. Not to mention those nights when everyone is quietly studying away in separate places throughout the city. So, what have I, and so many other students, considered a fix to this problem? Getting a dog! Unconditional love and cuddles anytime you want them with no chit chat to distract you from studying, problem sets, or readings.
Well, let me tell you a few stories before you make that decision. Ignore the idea of getting a puppy, they are loud, full of endless energy, and pee on everything. Seriously, they take up way more time than any fulltime student at U of T has, especially if you want to do it right. Let’s consider adopting a dog who is fully grown and house trained, plus already spayed/neutered with shots, about six years old. This seems ideal, old dogs will nap with you, they don’t pee in the house, there is already unconditional love because they don’t have to live in their previous less-than-ideal situation and are so thankful. These are all the reasons why getting a dog seems perfect. Here’s what they don’t tell you.
First let’s start with cost, the obvious downfall. Adoption fees can range from $80-$700, and on top of that you need: a leash, collar, food bowls, bed, crate, treats, food, toys, just to bring your new furry friend home. Now, the first vet visit. Minimum fee from experience is $58 for a check up, plus any seasonal medicine for ticks and worms is going to add $100 to the bill (this will happen yearly plus the shots like rabies that the shelter would have given the dog once). Now add monthly food $40+, toys when they get destroyed, bags to pick up poop, treats, doggy day care if you decide to go away for more than 8 hours. These are just routine expenses.
Now, let’s talk about going for walks. I suggest approximately three a day, they don’t have to be long but you do have to do it in 40-degree weather, -20-degree weather, thunder storms, and hail storms no matter what. This is especially fun and not so easy when your dog is afraid of the rain and you must force them outside. Then they get all muddy and get your house all dirty while, at the same time, incorporating that wet dog smell deep into your carpet for weeks. Not to mention when they shake off dog hair goes flying in literally every direction. Its on my clothes, my sheets, my clean towels, my floors, and in my food.
Finally, some of the most disgusting parts of being a dog owner. More times than I can count my dog has rolled in poo then happily come up to me to get a pet, and then poo is also all over me too. This means immediate end to the walk, go home wash up and miss out on eating lunch because I didn’t have time to bathe and eat. Another time the dog farted so bad she woke herself up and left the room, noticing too late I also had to abruptly leave my warm bed to open windows and doors to get the smell out; this probably comes from the fact that she will eat anything and everything on the street. I have pulled so many things out of her mouth with my bare hands like: poo, used napkins, dead mice, dead birds, unidentified pieces of bone, and a tampon. But worse than that is when you have to pull things out of their butts with your bare hands*. My dog ate a piece of a toy that was a long cylinder that had a hollow centre so that treats could be put inside of it. Unfortunately, she chewed a piece off, but it passed through her system without harm. One day I noticed it was stuck inside her butt with the hollow centre still allowing her to go poo. With the voice of a vet on the phone I put my fingers in there and pulled it out. And that’s when I asked myself, is unconditional love worth it?
But honestly, it is. The cuddles, the adorable puppy dog eyes, the excitement every single day I get home is all worth it. None of this is a deal breaker for me and many other dog owners. My dog has filled my life with so much good I wouldn’t have it any other way. For those of you who are a little squeamish or flipping back and forth between getting a dog and not getting one, maybe make friends with a dog owner first. Dogs are a huge commitment but can be totally worth it. Plus when writing things like this my dog is sitting on my lap and nothing could possibly be more cute.
*Never pull something out of your dog’s butt without seeking the advice of a vet first.