A Friend for Life
Is a Dog Right for your Family?
by Pam Molnar
Jun 27, 2024
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Wrigley is a Goldendoodle who was born in a puppy mill and sent to a pet store. A family came into the store just before the holidays to ooh and aah at the puppies and fell in love with Wrigley’s golden curls and clumsy walk. He licked the children’s faces and chased after the toys they threw for him. The staff at the pet store told them that Wrigley would be gentle, playful, large enough to intimidate intruders and non-shedding. This would be the family’s first pet. 

It wasn’t too long after they brought him home that the novelty of a new puppy wore off. Wrigley had a hard time distinguishing between his toys and the family’s shoes. He grew bigger than they were promised and had a lot of energy. Wrigley was never taught to walk on a leash and instead pulled his family along like a boat pulls a water skier. They also discovered that Wrigley took after the Golden Retriever side of his family and was a dog who sheds. 

Unfortunately, the family didn’t know what to do with him and without proper discipline, he became a hyper, uncontrollable dog who left a trail of dog hair wherever he went. Sadly, in less than a year, Wrigley became one of the 3.9 million dogs who enter an animal shelter each year.

Not every family is equipped for a dog. If your family is considering adding a fur baby to your home, take a minute to ask yourself if you can make this lifelong commitment.

1. Do you have time for a dog? Plan to spend an average of 1 to 2 hours a day with or for your dog depending on breed. That includes feeding, training, exercise, grooming and cleaning up. Dogs are natural people pleasers and want to be with their pack when you are home so plan time for cuddling, too. If you are a family that is away from your pet for long periods due to work or other commitments, you need to make arrangements for their care in your absence. 

2. Can you afford a dog? According to a study by Synchrony, the average lifetime cost of owning a dog ranges between $20,000 and $55,000. Besides the initial purchase (whether to a breeder or rescue), your dog will also need regular veterinary visits, monthly preventatives like heartworm pills and flea and tick prevention and of course, food. You will also need to consider boarding costs when you travel and grooming costs depending on the breed you choose. Like children, you need to plan for unexpected medical bills and damage repair. 

3. Can you tolerate a mess? Dogs are messy. They drip water on the floor when they drink. They bring mud and leaves into the house from outside. Some dogs shed. Some dogs drool. They leave piles in the backyard and sometimes have accidents in the house. If you are not the kind of person who can clean it up and move on, maybe a dog isn’t right for you.

4. Are you willing, as an adult, to take on the responsibility? My kids, just like thousands of others, promised to do EVERYTHING for the dog. However, I am the one to remind the kids to take care of their dogs and many times, I just take care of them myself. The average lifespan of a dog is 10-13 years. Getting a dog when your youngest child is 10 means that you as the parent will be caring for this dog long after the kids have left for college.

5. Is everyone all-in? If you or your spouse or even your live-in mother-in-law is not all-in, your dog will not be successful in your house. Dogs always seem to flock to people who don’t like them, probably trying to win them over. Unfortunately, some people are not dog people and will never come around to barking, messes and the responsibility that goes along with them. The dog will become a constant thorn in their side and will probably need to be rehomed.

6. Can you survive a trial period? Sometimes getting a dog looks good on paper, but in real life is another matter. If you think you have the time and money commitment, why not try pet ownership in small doses? You can pet sit for a friend while they are on vacation to see if the novelty wears off before the owners come home. If that goes well, contact your local shelter about fostering. This longer care situation is a great way to see how a dog will fit into your daily routine. You might even find the lifelong friend you were looking for.

Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three humans and two fur babies. Their dogs came to live with them after the first family returned them to the shelter for growing too big and shedding too much.

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If your family is ready to add a lifelong fur baby to your home, visit one of the many adoption centers listed below. Your forever fur baby is waiting for you!

Kern County Animal Services

3951 Fruitvale Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93308

Phone: (661) 868-7100

Kern County Animal Shelter

201 S. Mount Vernon Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93307

Phone: (661) 321-3000

Bakersfield SPCA

3000 Gibson St., Bakersfield, CA 93308

Phone: (661) 323-8353

Kern Humane Society

2111 Brundage Ln., Bakersfield, CA 93304

Phone: (661) 325-2589

OFFICE LOCATION: 1400 Easton Drive #112, Bakersfield, CA 93309
PHONE: 661-861-4939 For Advertising and Subscription Inquiries
FAX: 661-861-4930
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