The reason you are getting a dog – be sure you are ready

I was out one night minding my own business, stuffing my face with sushi, when I overheard a conversation beside me about getting a puppy.

The girl had just finished talking about how she had just left school and was looking for a job.  Then it came up that she  was surfing Kijiji and found the cutest dogs on there and is really thinking of getting one.  The girl she was with was obviously the Alpha female in this relationship as she sat and cut the girl into pieces as to her inability to be a good dog mum (know when to cut the cord on certain friends), to which she did the old lame “ya I suppose”.

Once I was done my meal and my large flask of sake, I decided to do that wee puppy a favour and just inform potential mum of what she is in store for.  So I told her a few things about cost, care and general info and thought I should go home and blog about this.

Now there are some responsible, small time home breeders who can’t afford to build a website and Kijiji offered free ads.  This is changing, there will now be a fee for posting the sale or re-homing of pets

But, there are also puppy mills, puppy brokers and people selling stolen dogs. Therefore I err on the side of caution when looking online in such places for a pet.  Also many times the dogs are advertised as pure bred and turn out not to be, the animals don’t come with a health guarantee or parental medical history, the parents aren’t licenced pets and there are no contracts or micro chipping.

So what you could end up with is an inexpensive dog that was a few hundred dollars, with hereditary or congestive illnesses and your vet bills will be in the thousands.  I am not saying this happens all the time, but buyer beware.

I mean look at people out there cross breeding to make cute dogs, then sell for a bit of cash.  One, are they even conscious of the fact that dogs can carry STD’s and have they done pre-doggy hookup testing.  Two, have they even deemed that the dog is healthy enough to have pups.  Three, do they consider the outcome of the dogs health when mixing two unknowns together.  You could be taking a dog that’s breed has a history of joint or hip issues with another and getting who knows what.  Some breeds have a history of urinary crystals or liver issues.

BUYER BEWARE – research the breeds you are interested in for temperant, do they do well in busy environments, with kids, other dogs, do they shed, are they easily trained, how big will they grow, what are the genetic health histories associated with these breeds and can you afford the vet bills?

When shopping for a dog, keep in mind, puppies require a lot of work.  Many rescues have been abused and need that extra tender loving care and you need to have time for that animal.  There are also rescues with serious medical situations that require regular medications and vet visits.  Not to scare you off but there is a commitment here financially.

I had to cut back on my evenings of fine dining and boozy nights out to afford my dogs and keep them in the luxury they have become accustomed to, but I love them and they are worth it to me. I am also very glad I quit smoking a couple of years beforehand because I couldn’t afford cigarettes and dogs.  Dogs are definitely the better bargain.

Step one is can you afford it. 

I now feed my boys a raw diet, which can cost double the price of a bag of kibble, but then they have a healthier immune system and I spend less at the vet, so I look at that as balancing out the costs of my raw food. To feed my boys for a month varies as I rotate between shopping at, when I can get a friend to drive me, or  Heronview is the less expensive of the two and has a much greater variety of whole meats.

I’d say a 5-10 pound dog will run you with food and vet bills around $3000 a year and that’s a healthy animal.

Step two, do your research.

What breed suits your family/household?  Does getting a dog fit into your lifestyle? Are your dealing with allergies, where some breeds may be better suited to you?  My first dog was a beautiful blond American Cocker spaniel and down the road I developed allergies to dogs and cats, including Robbie.  I discovered later I was not allergic to Yorkshire Terriers and they fit my lifestyle, I can take them everywhere with me, they require exercise, so I can burn off my chunky butt at the same time.  I’d say 90% of my friends have dogs, my life is just one big doggy playdate, this works great for me and keeps my dogs well socialized.

Step three, finding your dog.

Research the breeds that interest you, look for referrals, search AKC or CKC for registered breeders.  Often there are breed specific clubs.  Visit the breeders, get to know the breeder you choose, get referrals if you can.

I don’t encourage pet store purchases as they are from no place other than a puppy mill.  What’s a puppy mill you say, oh it’s a place where dogs are held in metal cages and bred on every heat with no vet care, no clean living environment and kept this way pumping out puppies for sale at pet stores and by puppy brokers.  Take a look at this wee film.

The City of Toronto, where I live, has banned the sale of cats and dogs in pets shops.

If you want a mixed breed dog, I recommend you reach out to your local shelter, rescues or humane society, stay away from the cross breeders.  This is my personal opinion, I just see greeders with dollar figures in their eyes.  I once watched a horrible show on telly about getting a dog and a woman cross bred a Yorkie with a Maltese and then cross bred that with something else and was calling it a breed.  Saying it didn’t have the nasty disposition of a Yorkie.  That may have been the trigger since my two Yorkies and the hundreds of other I know are the farthest thing from nasty I have ever seen.  And who knows what the genetic conditions this dog could have, what genetic health testing can you do on it at that point.

Ensure your dog comes with a health guarantee covering congenital illness.  My breeder offered a 5 year health guarantee and a constant source of support and information for me whenever I needed it.  She also had a clause in her adoption contract that if I cannot care for my dog, she will take it back and rehome it.  Now that’s what you want to hear.

When you get your dog, have it vet checked within the first few days to ensure it doesn’t have worms, parvo, distemper, mange, parasites or heart disease.

I love my boys and I am grateful for them every day My little family.  Be sure your lifestyle is ready for a dog and you can be their emotionally and financially for the entire lifetime of that dog.  Don’t turn it into a statistic.  If you cannot keep your dog reach out to your local rescues or breed group to help with rehoming.




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