Why Get a Dog?

Why I got a dog


Jason - a faithful guard dog

I was going to entitle this post “Why a Chihuahua?” but I soon realized as I began to write it that there needed to be a prequel – why get a dog at all? I have a cat - she's super-low maintenance - why complicate things by getting a dog?

Dogs form some of my earliest memories – I was born in Leicester, England, and my parents ran a pub at the time and had a border collie called Sid. Sid was an amazing pub dog – very friendly, very clever, and loved to do tricks for the punters (that’s customers in English English). He danced on his back legs for crisps (chips) and if you didn’t watch him too closely he would drink the dregs out of beer mugs some of the regulars left down for him. My mother swears a man from a circus offered her money for Sid – which she refused.

Molly - our first cocker spaniel

Molly - our first cocker spaniel

Then there was Jason, a shepherd/retriever mix that was with me from when I was one until I was around twelve years old. He was an amazing guard dog and escape artist – when my mum left him with my grandmother while we moved house he walked the 25 miles back to our old place looking for us. Then after we moved he walked the 25 miles back to Nan’s house. He finally settled in one place (with us) and was a gentle and patient friend.

The cocker spaniels came next – first Molly and then Bessie. Molly was all black and incredibly affectionate. Unfortunately she died after having chased and chewed on a rat that had been poisoned on next door’s farm. That was dreadful. Bessie was a blue roan who was around until I went to Drama School after University. While I was still living at home she would sit on the window sill in the front room to wait for me to get off the school bus every day.

Over fifteen years passed dog-free – I moved around a fair bit with college and work and didn’t really feel it was fair to have a dog. I emigrated to Canada four years ago to be with my husband and step-daughter and dogs have been on my mind ever since.

Bessie - my school pal

Bessie - my school pal

We moved house about a year ago and since we were no longer in an apartment and had a lot more room a dog suddenly seemed feasible. Our cat Jessica started going outside for the very first time once the weather got warm enough and I found a good vet to get her properly vaccinated. I picked up a copy of the book Choosing a Dog for Dummies and started thinking seriously about which breed would suit our lifestyle.

My step-daughter is nearly fourteen and busy with school and social activities and my husband is a writer who travels a great deal lecturing. I don't tend to travel too far outside Toronto for work, but my husband and I do go down to the States a fair bit in the summer when our daughter is at camp. I knew that this dog was going to be pretty much my responsibility so I had to think carefully about how having a dog would impact both my family as a whole and me personally. Did I have the time to properly train a puppy? What would we do with the dog when we go away? Could we afford to keep another pet? How would the cat react? We all discussed the implications and I agreed to take full responsibility for the care of the dog, with a little help from my family. Finally - in September - we decided to get a dog. The only question left was - what kind?

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