What I Wish I Knew Before I Got a Dog

Dogs are a girl's best friend.
And Team SN is filled with dog owners–but as anyone with a pet will tell you, it's not always easy to balance the care of a furry friend with social commitments and work responsibilities. Below, we asked Nikki, Anna, and Sydney to share the most surprising and rewarding thing about being a dog parent, along with the most important advice to know if you're thinking about getting a dog yourself. Read on for their perspectives!

Nikki On Welcoming Her New Addition, Rooney

The newest addition to the family is our 12-week old puppy, Rooney! I think on my second date with Corey I told him if we were ever going to get serious, a non-negotiable was getting a dog. I have never lived in a house without a dog but he did not grow up with dogs and though he liked to play with them, he knew raising one and being responsible for it is a whole other story. We made a pact that by September 2020 we would have one and our Rooney came in August. We have been living together a year and a half and felt like we were settled in enough to handle the responsibility and really devote the time and energy that a dog would deserve and need. Everyone tells you it’s hard, everyone tells you they are expensive - No one can really prepare you for how hard and expensive it actually is. That aside, I think the hardest part for me is that we are still learning all about her–what her barks mean, what her actions mean, and we are not mind readers! When her stomach is bothering her, we ask ourselves a million questions: Do we call the vet? Is it her food? Did she eat something off the street? Is it a parasite? I’m excited to learn more about her so I can truly understand what she needs, what’s bothering her, and what she loves!

My advice for someone looking to get a dog soon, remember that they are babies! They need time to learn, become comfortable, and grow into the well behaved dog you hope they will be so have patience. This is key! If you cannot be patient, then raising a dog is just going to be that much more difficult. Also, know that mistakes do happen. They will pee on the rug, they will throw up and eat it, they will have diarrhea!

Anna On Managing Bowie and a Busy Schedule

My dog is Bowie (yes, like David Bowie- he has two different color eyes like DB!). He is four years old! I rescued him when he was about eight weeks old. I have been a dog person my entire life and always grew up with dogs and knew I wanted to be a dog mom forever. When I was moving off on my own,  it was the perfect time to have a companion. (BTW Bowie is currently cuddling up to me as I am writing this).

The most surprising thing about becoming a dog owner was all the little health things that I would freak out about because you just have no idea what’s happening, but they’re not always the biggest deal. I have become very alert and calm about certain things. I used to think if he threw up once that I needed to rush him to the vet and that something was seriously wrong. But they are dogs, so sometimes they pick things up on the street when you aren't looking and then they get a little sick. Learning to stay calm and monitor the situation has been big for me. Google is and isn't helpful sometimes–it can either scare you or help you handle a situation.  The hardest thing about having a dog (especially at my age) is how busy I am and that I have to sacrifice certain personal life plans. I can’t just have a spontaneous day trip with my friends without having a plan of who will take care of, feed, and walk Bowie.

My advice for someone who is thinking of getting a dog is to really make sure that you are ready and not just get a dog because you want someone to cuddle with. Because of course they are the best cuddlers but they are a lot of work and commitment! No matter how much you think “oh hard it could be! I'm just going to train my dog really well,” their whole life revolves around you so you need to make sure that you can be there for them.

Sydney On Moving to a New City With Paddington In Tow

Paddington is three years old and he is a rescue! A small 5 lb dog with a biiiig name. I got him during my senior year at the University of Miami. I always loved dogs and we had a family dog that passed a few years prior, but I was obsessed with the idea of having my own. Some may think my timing was unusual, but once I got to my senior year, part of me was tired of going out nonstop, and I knew I wanted to have a dog post-grad so I figured why not do it before I graduate and become busy with a job so that I have more time to adjust to the new lifestyle! By no means was this easy… at all. But worth every second!

Adopting Paddington was the best decision I have ever made hands down. He is so loyal, loving, sweet, funny…he is truly the best companion ever! I would say the most surprising thing to me about being a dog owner is how much the dog depends on you. I always knew it was a huge responsibility, but I seriously feel like some days it is like having a child. It is a little tiny living being that depends on you for everything. Having Paddington has taught me responsibility that I don’t think I would have learned so quickly without him. After college, I learned not only how to take care of myself, but also how to take take care of another life while managing a job and living in a new city. The hardest thing I would say is that “mom guilt” is so real. Ha! I sound so crazy writing this but it's true. It is a huge adjustment and you have to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices. When I’m out for too long I am always worried about him- did I leave enough food? Did I change his water? Is he sitting by the door waiting? Being in my 20’s this can be challenging at times because my friends are often out and about, while I have other things to consider. This has definitely changed in quarantine, but it's just one example of having to make sacrifices. My Furbo camera has given me major peace of mind. I absolutely LOVE it, it's so worth the investment, and I can control the treat dispenser from my phone, which has saved me during some really stressful, tough times.

My best piece of advice would be to do your research, learn about different breeds, and what would be compatible with your lifestyle. Living in a big city, it would be more challenging to have a huge dog that would thrive in a backyard. There will be times in the beginning where you are so frustrated, and it's okay to put the pup in his or her crate for a little while. Let yourself cool off and don’t get frustrated because that is not doing any good for you or the puppy. Be patient, they are learning with you and the world feels so big and confusing to them when they are small. Your dog will react better in less stressful situations.