My friend AC loves dogs, and she has many years of experience as a dog owner as well as caring for other people’s dogs. When she was younger, she worked as a dog handler in the US, and she has been the owner of two champions (Best in Show winners); a Cocker Spaniel and a German Shorthaired Pointer. I asked her what you should consider before getting a dog, and here are her answers:
AC: A dog is not just an accessory, that you can throw away when you get tired of it, or it goes out of style. Remember that dogs get old (15 years or more for smaller breeds), so even if a dog suits your lifestyle now, it might not be the case further down the road. Do you plan on traveling the world in the future? Maybe moving to another country? Getting a job that requires you to spend a lot of time away from home? Will you still have time and room for a dog?
Do you have time for a dog?
Some breeds have lots of energy and need to be out exercising many hours each day to feel good, while other breeds are fine with a less active lifestyle. Common for all dogs is that they need company, and they get sad, when they are left alone. In Sweden there are laws regulating how long you are allowed to leave your dog on its own (I think it is 5 hours), but even if you live in a country without legislation, you should not get a dog, if you are planning to leave it alone for many hours each day.
Can you afford a dog?
There are many costs associated with owning a dog. You need to count in vaccinations, insurance costs, proper food and maybe trimming if you have a longhaired dog. If the dog gets ill, you need to take it to the vet, which can be very expensive if you do not have insurance.
Which breed is a good fit for you?
Labradoodles, Cockapoodles, and so-called allergy friendly dogs are all very popular these days, but the truth is that none of them are acknowledged as purebreds. Some people think you are able to pick the best traits from the two breeds you are mixing, but that is not the case. Also, there are no requirements of health assessments and no breeding standards, so you do have any idea of what you get. It takes time to find out which breed will suit you, but it is time well invested.
Some people get a longhaired dog without knowing how to take proper care of the trimming. The dog’s fur helps it regulate the temperature, and the fur is also water-repellent. If you start trimming or shaving your dog without knowing what you are doing, you risk ruining the structure of the fur so it is either too cold or too warm for the dog, which is a real pity.
How is your lifestyle? Are you physically active or do you prefer watching tv on the couch? Some dogs are better with kids than others, so if you have kids or if you are planning to start a family, this is also something to bear in mind.
There is lot of information available online about the different breeds and the kind of care they require, but you can also call the breeders if you have any questions.
Most breeders require a personal meeting to evaluate whether you are a good match, before they will agree to sell you a dog. If they are in doubt, they will most likely tell you no. Instead of just trying your luck with another breeder, you should carefully think through how it could be that they do not think you are a good fit for the dog. Remember that the breeder knows the dog and sees potential problems with you as an owner that you might not be aware of yourself. Maybe that breed just isn’t right for you?
Why buy a purebred dog?
Purebreds are expensive, but if you buy a purebred dog from a certified breeder, you have a better chance of getting a healthy, good-tempered dog. Every breed has specified what kind of genetic testing is required and which diseases the dogs of that breed are tested for. The breeders all participate in the effort of eliminating certain eye diseases and other illnesses with a genetic component. The breeders also make sure that health tests concerning hips and elbows ae performed, and the breeders are required to follow guidelines from the national society of kennels and breeders. Usual, there are overall national regulations regarding how many litters a dog can have per year, when female dogs should retire from breeding, and overall animal welfare standards. If you buy a dog from a breeder who is a member of the national kennel club, you can be sure that the dog has been ethically bred.
What is the best thing about having a dog?
Unconditional love and a friend for life:)
My Swedish friend AC in Norway
My friend AC is from Sweden and we met, when we were both studying at the university in Gothenburg. Through the years we have visited many places together, and we have some amazing memories from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Seoul, Las Vegas and a number of other cities. AC used to live in Oslo, but she has recently moved to Farsund with her boyfriend from Norway.