So if you don’t already know from the never-ending posts and Instagram stories with my dog, I adopted my pup, Maizy, on September 23rd, 2018 and I couldn’t be more in love with her. I’m going to be honest, I was not prepared when I actually adopted her. I knew I wanted a dog eventually, maybe even a service dog, but I didn’t think I was going to get one anytime soon. I never grew up with any pets (aside from fish, turtles, hermit crabs, and a guinea pig), so I had no idea what to expect. Today’s post is going to be about my journey raising a dog as a single parent, and the real truth about getting a dog in your early twenties, so that hopefully you can decide if it’s the right time for you to add a new member to your family.
T H E S T O R Y
Usually I’m pretty good at adjusting to new situations and places. When I studied abroad in London my junior year of college, I quickly became comfortable and found a home in the UK. Moving to San Francisco post-grad was much different though, and I was going through a rough time, to say the least. After picking myself up, I wasn’t sure where to go next. I suddenly found myself jobless, living alone, and across the country from everything familiar to me.
A pet was not at all on my radar. I had just been at a point where I could barely take care of myself, and while I had been out of that funk for a little while, I didn’t trust myself yet that I could take care of an entirely separate being. One weekend, a couple friends and I were hanging out, bored, and decided to pay a visit to the SF SPCA to play with puppies… and you can probably guess the rest. Met Maizy, fell in love, and I was set. She had a calm loving temperament, was a good medium size, and the employee helping us said she would be a great first-time dog owner pet. However, he mentioned that the SPCA did not allow potential adopters to reserve animals, so hypothetically, someone could (and most likely would) come by and sweep her up tomorrow. I knew I wasn’t going to come across a dog better than her, and so that night, my friends and I made our rounds through Ross and PetSmart, and we picked Maizy up as soon as they opened their doors the next morning.
I got very lucky with Maizy. She came potty trained, leash trained, car trained, never barked, and was very polite and well socialized. I knew rescuing a dog was not always this easy, since many shelter dogs come from puppy mills, abuse, and unknown situations that could have left them with trauma.
Ever since I could read, I remember checking out library books about dog breeds and how to train your dog, despite actually having one. I remember religiously watching shows on Animal Planet like It’s Me or the Dog, a “Super Nanny”-esque show but for dog training, and Dogs 101, that went through the history and information about selected breeds each episode. In more recent years, I had done extensive research on psychiatric service dogs, as I had been struggling with depression and anxiety for a while. After I got Maizy, my sister even mentioned to me “you’ve kind of been preparing for this your whole life,” and that’s an understatement. Although, while I was as prepared as one could be, I was surprised by what it was actually like.
T H E R E F L E C T I O N
In my six months of being the sole owner of a dog, without the help of anyone else physically or financially, I will admit that having a dog has truly been a wonderful addition to my life, and has significantly improved my wellbeing. She gives me purpose on days when I don’t feel like I have one, and reminds me to take care of myself, because if I don’t, her quality of life will quickly suffer.
Having a dog is also a huge responsibility, and does change how you live your life. Luckily with my current job, I’m able to bring Maizy to the office with me. Having Maizy would NOT be possible if I was not able to, or it would cost me $40/day for dog walking or daycare. Forget spontaneous sleep overs or day trips with your friends--depending on the breed, you’ll have to take your dog out for a walk every five hours to use the bathroom. Sleepovers with your partner become camping trips with how much you have to prepare when you go over to their place, packing toys, food, poop bags, and more. Traveling anywhere is more difficult, and not as easy as just buying a plane ticket and packing the night before you fly out.
Additionally, dogs are not cheap, which is common knowledge, but unexpected vet bills when your dog starts having blood in their stool from god knows what, monthly nail clipping and grooming, and never ending bags of Greenies rack up on your credit card bill.
Calculated out, here is an example of my monthly expenses for Maizy:
And this is without going to the vet, getting annual vaccinations or teeth cleanings, buying new supplies or gear, getting groomed or bathed at a dog groomers, replacing your favorite shirt now that it’s gotten a hole chewed into it… Expenses will also depend on the size and breed of your dog. Maizy is a medium sized dog at 55lbs, so her monthly basic expenses are about average for any size or breed you might get.
Having a dog nowadays has become more of a trend for millennials and people in their early twenties. As the average millennial postpones having babies and prioritizes his or her career, dogs have started to replace that desire for companionship and nurturing. I have absolutely no problem with those in early adulthood who get dogs, but many don’t understand the responsibility or burden of actually owning one. People who get dogs just for the glamour are doing so for selfish reasons. Being responsible for another living being comes with the expectation that you can provide a stable, fulfilling life. If the dog is sitting at home alone for most of the day while the owner is at work and going to happy hour with coworkers afterwards, that is a tragically low quality of life for that animal. If people truly cared about providing the best life for an animal, they would not take on that responsibility until they were in the right place in their lives to do so.
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
I digress… In conclusion, Maizy is in many ways, my saving grace. She helped bring me out of a dark place, brings purpose to my day, creates structure, and reminds me to be kind to and take care of myself. I get it now. I get why people view their dogs as not only members of the family, but their babies. While yes, owning a dog restricts me from having the same amount of freedom as I previously had, she is family, she is love, and I believe that stumbling upon her that sunny Saturday evening was truly fate.