I often say that the decision of having a dog should not be impulsive. I know that out of my experience. I have learned a lot from a nearly decade-long journey with my dog.
One life lesson my dog taught me is to not take long-term commitments if you still have to choose what do you want to do and the direction of your life.
A dog is a dependable being that will be around you for approximately 12 to 15 years (it depends on the dog). This means that if you are in your very early 20s and you get a dog, please understand that it is not a one-year commitment, it is not a gym membership that you can dismiss when you had enough.
If you get a dog at 20, remember that he or she will probably be with you until on your mid-thirties.
Sure, in your 30s you are still young and still have plenty of roads ahead, however, your 20s should be the time when you build the foundation for the person you will be in your adulthood.
A dog will not stop you from achieving what you what in life but if you are unsure of what you want, a dog can become a big obstacle.
I have learned that the hard way but it does not mean I don’t love my dog. If there is something I regret it is my mindset, way of life and political views of that time that have been very detrimental to my foundation of adulthood.
The dog is not responsible, he didn’t ask me to take him. I am responsible for the bitter feeling of time wasted.
However, there are a few things that a dog can hold you back from doing. Also, I refer to people that do not own a house, cannot count on their family (or their family is thousands of miles away) and do not have a 100k+ a year salary.
Issue 1: Renting a room or an apartment.
Where I am from (Italy), a lot has been done to improve the life of domestic animals and their owners. Still, in many other places, it is very hard to find an affordable rent solution when you don’t have a dog. So, you can imagine that it can become nearly impossible to rent with a dog. This can push you to, or get you stuck in a living condition of nearly a homeless.
Issue 2: You can forget about traveling.
For many young people traveling means grabbing the backpack, tickets and go. For you it is not that easy, your first thought is “What about my dog? Who is going to look after him or her?”
First, you need to find someone that will look after your dog, a friend or a dog sitter. Yet your friend may live in a rented property where they are not allowed to keep a pet. Also, they may have a very busy schedule that doesn’t allow them to look after your dog. A trustworthy dogsitter will probably cost you more than the price of your holiday. Many of these factors vary depending on where you live in the world.
Of course, I am talking about a short-term vacation: one or maximum two weeks. You can forget about traveling for months in far lands with an open ticket. You can do that if you have the financial resources but being away for that long is absolutely bad for your dog, especially if you frequently go for such long journeys.
If that is your lifestyle and you cannot take the dog with you, well, better you give up one of the two. If you choose to give up the dog, give him or her to a family that loves and can look after a dog, dedicating all their attention and care to the pooch. You can ask them to keep you updated on his or her life if you wish.
Issue 3: Your professional and social life will be affected.
A dog can stay alone for some time if he or she doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety. However, if you are alone, all your activity (professional, academic, social etc) will be affected by the dog owner’s responsibilities. You may end up in a situation when you always have to go early because the dog is waiting for you at home. Your date may not appreciate it (that means they are not suitable for you and your dog). Even your boss may see it as a problem.
If you are alone with your dog, it will be difficult to make lengthy commitments, especially if they require you to be away for a long time. This was the main problem I had experienced. It doesn’t mean you will face the same situation. I lived most of the time with my dog in London, which in my opinion does not have much to offer for renting pet owners.
It is not my intention to discourage you from getting a dog. Your situation may be different from mine and therefore you may not face the same problem I have faced. However, remember that the dog owner’s responsibilities are universal. It will require you to sacrifice time for any other activity you may want to engage in, and dedicate it to your dog. This is something you should have in mind before you get a dog. Remember, in 10 or 15 years many things around you can change, so better prepare plans A, B and C.
If I have to give you an advice, I can tell you to take the example from birds: they first build the nest and then they lay the eggs, not the other way around. Sort yourself out first, then have a dog.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like to learn more, please, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check my book ‘Before You Get A Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.
Featured Image © Karyna Zaslavska (Simone and Mailo)