When you were born, your mom had three dogs – Charlie, Molly, and Murphy. Charlie was a little tan chihuahua. Molly a chihuahua-terrier mix (I think), and big ol’ Murphy is definitely not the chihuahua your mom thought he was. He’s a mutt.
Now, you have Murphy, Molly, Finley (Chris’s Rhodesian Ridgeback), and Mya, your ridgeback puppy.
You don’t remember this, but I also had two more dogs when you were born. In addition to Mommy’s dogs, Charlie, Molly, and Murphy, I had two German Shepherds, Bishop and Geni (pronounced “Jenny,” short for Genesis).
Here are a few pictures:
Bishop and Geni were great dogs to me, and I loved (and miss) them dearly. They were my first “children” and I enjoyed being their pack leader. However, there’s more to owning a dog than just the love and affection they provide.
As I write this, I have no idea how long your dogs will be in your life, but I suspect you’ll be old enough to see some of the things I am going to talk about today.
Owning a dog (or dogs) is wonderful, but also extremely stressful. As you know, Murphy and Molly are incessant barkers. They bark at everything and it’s a habit that has never been corrected. Numerous times on skype you’ve been frustrated by them being so loud and you’ve commented about how they bark all the time.
When your mom and I lived together, we had 5 dogs! What were we thinking?! Well…. we never knew we would have 5 dogs. We just had our own dogs. But let me tell you – 5 dogs is insane.
Molly and Murphy barked all the time. Charlie would growl and bite you if you got too close. Plus Charlie was a marker. It was a never ending battle to stop him from peeing on everything even though he was potty trained.
Geni was neglected before I got her and did not like other animals. She attacked Murphy and could be unpredictable with him. She definitely did not tolerate strange animals. We constantly had to separate her from everyone which made her whine and was not healthy for her because she was separated from us.
Even gentle Bishop, who was by far the best behaved, became incapable of controlling his bowels in his old age and, yes, there were unspeakable messes as a result.
And all this was after three of the dogs had been through extensive training. (It’s impossible to train a chihuahua, though. Seriously.)
To this day, there has been no time in my life more stressful than when we had those 5 dogs in one house.
Not only were there day to day problems like those I’ve mentioned, but it was impossible to travel. Boarding 5 dogs is incredibly expensive, and no one would take care of Geni because she didn’t like anyone but me. Even on a normal day, my dogs could only hold the bathroom for about 12 hours (Charlie much less than that), before someone had to let them out. We HAD to be at the house often enough to let them go to the bathroom.
I’m not saying this to scare you out of having your own dog as an adult, but it’s important to understand that having a dog is basically like having a perpetual 5 year old human (like you! You’re actually 6 right now). They need constant attention and supervision and don’t always potty how they’re supposed to. They can greatly affect what you can do or accomplish in a given day.
What I want for you is for you to know that owing a dog is a huge commitment. If you want a carefree life where you can come and go as you please, travel whenever you want, make plans with spontaneity, etc, think really had before you get your own dog. Your dog depends on you and expects you to be around as the leader of “the pack.” If you’re always gone, your dog will almost certainly have behavior issues.
If I could go back in time, I probably would not have gotten two dogs so early in my professional, post-college life, and I would have encouraged your mom NOT to get Murphy when she already had two dogs. And I was serious when I said your mom thought he was a chihuahua. Still hilarious to me to this day.
The lesson here is to decide to get a dog when having a dog dictates the lifestyle you want. If they don’t fit in your stage of life, they can be incredibly stressful, expensive, and require more work than you can imagine – even if you love them dearly.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want you to have more dogs. I just want you to think about how you really want to live before you make that decision.
P.S. The police knocked on our door the other day and told me that our dog had been chasing someone on a bike. I told the officer “Don’t be ridiculous!” My dog is smart, but he still can’t ride a bike!”
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