I’ve seen a lot of articles recently offering advice on what to look for when adopting a dog; kind of a find your perfect canine match questionnaire, if you will. And while most of these raise many a salient point, there is one question often glossed over. Do you know what a dog is?
It may seem a silly question, but if you’ve never had a dog of your own, I think it’s the most important one.
As much as we’d like to make dogs out to be little humans, they’re not. Our customs and courtesies are not theirs. We need to be able to allow them the freedom to be dogs even after we bring them into our homes. There are things they are going to do that will just not jive with our version of reality, and as much as we want to stop them from doing these things, we just need to let it be. For example:
Dogs Sniff Everything
Other dogs butts, your butt, your boss’s crotch, the animal carcass in the back yard you didn’t know was there, and just about everything else under the sun; these are all on a dogs list of must sniffs. It is how they see the world and denying them the ability to sniff is like blinding them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t teach them that some things that are inappropriate and should be left alone. But get ready to use the word eew a lot more than you used to.
Dogs Roll in the Putrid
Dogs are born with a sixth sense about things we find disgusting, especially the disgustingly smelly. Cow manure, rabbit pellets, vomit, dead and rotting animals; dogs wear these scents like badges of honor. If you want to own a dog then you must be ready to give a dog a bath at a moment’s notice, usually with a clothespin on your nose.
Even breeds that are described as shedding very little shed. You want a dog? Get used to the idea of every single thing you own having dog fur on it, including your clothes, your car, your dishes, and your toothbrush.
Dogs Eat the Disgusting
Continuing along with the theme, most of the things a dog will roll in they will eat; feces of all types, vomit, dead animals, garbage, ad infinitum. Again we can teach our dogs there are some things that should be left alone, but be prepared to use that eew word again.
Dogs Have Accidents
Even the fastidiously house trained dog will have an occasional accident. This includes number one, number two, number three (vomiting), and number four (all at the same time). And incidentally, they often seek a place of comfort when they are in discomfort, like the bed.
Even dogs that don’t have problems with barking will bark. Be prepared to be woken at the crack of dawn should a bunny rabbit saunter past your dog’s patio door.
Dogs Need a Job
Even the most laid back dogs need something to do in the form of daily mental and physical exercise. Neglect this at the peril of your furniture, clothing, and sanity. Bored dogs will find ways to entertain themselves and to express their frustration that will most certainly not be pleasing to us.
Dogs Need Medical Treatment
In addition to needing regular veterinary care, dogs will have accidents. I’ve yet to meet the dog that doesn’t leap into action without thinking should something they really covet cross their path. From torn toenails to that missing sock found blocking up your dog, be prepared to be on intimate terms with your vet.
Dogs Need Maintenance
Some dogs find brushing a soothing and bonding experience, some act like you’re Leather Face with a chainsaw. And when it comes to clipping toenails, most think you’re Leather Face. These are things you will have to work on with your dog to make them comfortable while having them done.
Dogs can Have Unnatural Fears Just like Us
You may know there is more than enough air in that 20 second elevator ride between the first and third floors, but that doesn’t mean it scares you any less. Our dogs have the same kinds of fears about vacuum cleaners.
I could go on and on with this list but I think the point is pretty clear. The first thing to consider about getting a dog is… it’s a dog. You should expect it to act like one. If you’re prepared for that fact, then the getting to know each other will be much easier for all.