Should I get a dog?
Whenever I’m feeling tempted to buy a dog, I ask to dog-sit Harry – he belongs to my cousin Nick.
Harry is a Tibetan Terrier, and he’s possibly the most low-maintenance dog that I’ve ever come across. He rarely barks – pretty much only when he needs to go out to pee . Most of the time we seem to communicate telepathically.
Harry is the only Tibetan Terrier that I’ve encountered, so I’m not sure if he’s typical of the breed, but I’m guessing that Tibetan Terriers generally have a fairly relaxed temperament.
Apparently, they’re not really terriers at all, although they do look a bit like them, which is where the English description of them came from. They do however come from Tibet where they’ve traditionally been prized as companions, watchful, bringers of good luck.
Harry doesn’t need a lot of exercise – a quick walk around the nearby park in the morning, and then that’s it for the day. The rest of the time he pretty much just sleeps – occasionally he’ll let me know that he needs to pee, but pretty much he just sleeps.
Harry doesn’t really seem to eat a lot of food. His standard diet is roast chicken mixed with some dried dog food. But I can’t seem to get him interested at all in eating that – it sits in his bowl and he turns his nose up at it. He’s a bit more interested in whatever I’m eating.
If I had one complaint about Harry it would be that he’s not particularly affectionate. He’ll patiently let anyone stroke him or pat him, but that’s about the extent of it. He doesn’t like being picked up – stoically suffering the indignity if we’re confronted by an escalator or a crowded tube. He doesn’t like sitting close to me on the sofa – if I try and snuggle in next to him, he gets up with a sigh and moves to the other side of the room.
He does, however, seem to like a bit of company at night. He generally starts off on the sofa, but usually at some point in the night he’ll come into the bedroom to check on me, sometimes jumping onto the bed to snooze for a little bit before heading back to the sofa.
I love dog-sitting Harry, but it reminds me that my lifestyle isn’t compatible with adopting a dog of my own. It’s not just that my flat is small, and there’s no garden. It’s not just that I usually travel a lot with work. What if the dog that I adopted wasn’t just like Harry? He’s set the bar high – I’m not sure I could love another dog as much as I love this strange, aloof, wise and watchful Tibetan Terrier.
Things to consider before adopting a dog
Do you have time to commit to a dog? Dogs need exercise, some more than others. Some dogs don’t like being left alone for long periods of time.
Is your lifestyle suitable for a dog? Dogs generally like a stable routine. They need to be fed regularly. Do you have outside space where your dog can explore, or will they be inside all the time?
Do you have access to a vet? From time to time, your dog is going to need to go to the vet – just like you need to go to the doctor and the dentist. Have you got a neighbourhood vet within easy reach of your home? Have you considered the costs involved?
How dog-friendly is your home? Dogs can be messy. Things will get broken. They will shed hair on your furniture. Odd bones might appear underneath your sofa. There’s bound to be a few toilet accidents.
Do you know how to feed a dog? Do your research before bringing a dog into your home. You need to make sure that you’re going to be able to give your dog the balanced nutrition that they need.
Allow for an adjustment period. Whatever age the dog that you’re planning on bringing into your home, there will be an adjustment period. You might need to take some time off work so that you can bond with the dog and ensure that they’re comfortable.
Understand how to house-train your dog. Getting the signals right as to when your dog needs to go to the toilet will make life a lot easier for both of you. Be prepared to get some professional help from a dog-trainer so that you can get this sorted early on.
Treats and toys. How are you going to entertain your dog? What toys should you be investing in? How should you use treats to reward good behaviour? Do some research before your dog arrives.
Consider neutering your pet. Get some advice from a vet, but generally it is a good idea to neuter your dog.
Registration and identification. Check the local regulations to ensure that you know what’s required in terms of dog registration and identification.