Should you get a dog?

Most people imagine only the fun things before getting a dog; playing with him in the park, the dog greeting you happily when you come home after a long day, and having someone warm and fuzzy to snuggle with on chilly evenings.

However, please really, really think carefully about what you're doing before you bring a dog home. Don't get me wrong, I have always had dogs in my life and never regretted a moment of it, even when they were naughty, even when they got sick, even after the deep heartbreak I felt when previous pets got old, took their last breath and left me forever. I never regretted any of that. Having a dog in your life is a wonderful thing.

But getting a dog is a massive responsibility beyond simply feeding him, walking him and cleaning up after him. When you bring a dog home, you are making a promise to nurture and take care of a life, something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

This means you should seriously consider whether you have the time, energy and financial capabilities to properly take care of a dog. Your responsibilities aren't simply limited to keeping an animal alive. Taking care of a dog means devoting your time to loving him , making sure he gets exercise even when you don't feel like it, and having the patience to train him without losing your temper if he has a propensity for naughtiness. The financial aspect is also an important one to consider; figure out if you're ready and able to pay thousands of dollars if your dog becomes injured or sick.

Dogs are abandoned every day because their owners suddenly realized they didn't have the time or patience for them, or decided that taking care of them was becoming too costly. Owners end up regretting their decision to bring a dog into their lives when they find they simply weren't ready for the energy of a Border Collie and were only equipped to deal with a Pomeranian. Some dogs are abandoned because they end up with a lot of health problems that owners are not prepared for, emotionally or financially.

But dogs aren't inanimate objects. They may not have obvious facial expressions to show it, but they know if they are being abandoned, abused or neglected. Avoid becoming one of those people who inflict this kind of pain on their pets by thinking long and hard about the decision you're making, then conduct lengthy research about exactly what kind of pet would be most suitable for your home. Like I said, caring for Border Collies and Pomeranians are not the same thing.

If you still want to have dogs in your life but don't think you can make a full-time commitment, then volunteer at your local animal shelter. Give money, donate food and toys, or sign up to provide a foster home so you can take care of dogs on a short term basis. However, do not commit to taking care of a life unless you are absolutely sure about taking the plunge.

Bringing a dog home is bringing a life home, make sure you're ready for it—all the good times and the bad.

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