For most of my life, I had been firmly in the NO DOGS camp. There are some breeds I’m allergic to, which makes me miserable. I preferred to avoid all dogs as much as possible to avoid misery. I also dislike being licked, sniffed in delicate regions of my body, jumped on, scratched, and bitten. So many dogs I had met were so poorly behaved, that I thought that was normal dog behavior.
Then I made a new friend who had the best dog I’d ever met. He is a short, long, sheep-doggy dog, and I fell absolutely in love with him.
He is so well behaved, that he helped me to understand that not all dogs are assholes and their behavior is probably a reflection of their owners. Upon some critical thinking, I realized that most of the “bad dogs” I’d encountered were owned by people who I believed were not the best parents, which meant that their dogs were likely just as neglected. Additionally, a search to identify what kind of dog Best Dog is led me to a greater understanding of breed differences, which clearly has a big impact on a dog’s pleasantness or jerky-ness.
Around this time I hung out with a few other folks who had really wonderful dog-pets, and a seed was planted. I had a job that wasn’t the safest and I thought it would be nice to have a dog in the house to alert us if something was off. A home security system who loves us, I told my partner.
I researched and researched and researched. Costs (short-term and long-term), breeds, temperaments, required life-changes, food, exercise requirements, veterinarians, training.
I made sure that if we got a dog, it would be a good dog for our family. I made a solid guess on types of coats that would work best based on dogs we had come in contact with an not had allergic reactions to. Labs tend to set me off, Australian Shepherds didn’t. My husband was similar.
I seriously considered about 4-5 breeds before I found… Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
I feel head over heels for their little stumpy legs and fluffy, wiggling behinds, their big smiles, and bossy attitudes. But I couldn’t make the decision based on pics and GIFs. So I researched. And they were perfect.
They love their people. They will bark if they notice things are out of place or they interpret a threat (squirrels and passing UPS trucks are threats, in case you didn’t know), but otherwise tend to be quiet. They’re one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, so they learn quickly. They sound like sawed-off German Shepherds. They’re active, but not so much that they can’t live in a city.
They’re not without their downsides. They shed all the time. And a lot. They have to be entertained and worn out or they will destroy your life trying to keep themselves busy. They shed. They can develop back problems (genetically or by injury). The shedding, ohmyholyhell, the shedding. They can be bossy, especially with other pets or small children. They may attempt to herd, including nipping, other pets and people. They shed. They can be very loud – a downside for apartment living (even in our house, the neighbors commented on our dog howling when we left shortly after we moved in – they even talked to other neighbors about it because they were worried we might be horrible dog-parents). Did I mention the shedding?
How bad could the shedding really be? REALLY BAD, Y’ALL. But we were committed by the time we figured it out. And, honestly, once you’ve accepted that every piece of clothing and every meal you will ever eat will have a corgi hair on it….. It’s still bad. I won’t lie. But you can just snuggle your corgi and that helps you get through.
It was about two years ago that I really started to make a plan. We’d buy a house with a yard, then get a dog. I sent an email to a breeder to see if we could visit and rub our faces on some corgis to verify that we weren’t allergic, expecting that if we were to get on a waiting list, then the timing would work out perfectly.
It was late April when I first contacted the breeder. She said she’d be happy to have us visit next time we were traveling that direction. In late May I had our next travel dates and went to her site to email her to confirm plans. That was when I saw him.
I fell in love. He was 3 years old and needed a new home because the other dogs he lived with were bossier and he was timid and scared a lot. The breeder was helping the current owner find a new home for him and the current owner lived in the next town.
There is a story in there that made me feel like were were kindred spirits. I didn’t fit into my family either and had to make a new one.
I immediately filled out the application on the site and emailed the breeder to make sure it went through (THEN I texted my partner to tell him that this was our dog, gods willing).
After an exchange of several emails, we scheduled a time to meet the following weekend. My husband had to drive because I was so excited that my hands were shaking. He was waiting in the front yard with his owner when we arrived. We chatted with her and petted him and threw his ball and rubbed our faces on him to make sure we weren’t allergic.
This was happening much earlier that we’d initially planned (by a year or more, remember). But I was in love, my daughter was in love, and my partner was much less skeptical than he was initially. We made a plan to have him over to our house for a trial run the next weekend. His owner would drop him off the following Saturday and return on Sunday evening. If it wasn’t a good fit, she would take him home. If it was a good fit, he could stay.
I spent the entirety of my free time in the following week gathering supplies. I decided to keep track of our expenses the first year. I’d read that $2,000 was average for owning a dog in the first year and wanted to know if that was true. I started a spreadsheet. I entered the actual cost and retail cost for everything since we got some gifts and waited for sales on several things.
In the first year of dog ownership, we spent about $2,600. If things were not gifted or on sale, this would have come out to $3,500. My husband went out on Black Friday to buy this dog a fancy bed because it was cheap. Now, we did buy multiples of a couple things because it was a learning process. Also, I tend to think my dog is smaller than he is. So, we had 4 beds (one for the crate, one was too flat/insubstantial, one was too small, and then we got a good one). A few leashes (I prefer round once to flat ones, short ones to long ones – except the Weiss Walkie). Two or three collars. He gets a 5-star food and regular bully sticks and Yeti cheese. We bought a lot of toys he didn’t like so we gave them away. We’ve replaced his favorite ball twice. So, someone who has done this before can probably do it less expensively. But if someone is new to dog-ownership, they are probably going to do some of this trial and error and it’s good to know what to budget for that.
That week was excruciating. I just wanted that doggy in my house and I wanted it to work out.
This dog has changed my life.
We adopted him in early June 2014. I had graduated from grad school only a few weeks earlier and I was burned out. My job was hard and sometimes scary. I changed jobs that fall, hoping it would be a better fit and that job destroyed my faith in the goodness of human beings. But my dog lifted my spirits every night. I changed jobs again about 5 months later and it’s a much better fit, though I still have occasional days where I can’t talk to people after getting home and my dog seems to know and he just loves me. He is a Snuggle Champion.
He has nursed me through two surgeries. Providing excellent lateral support after my recent knee surgery.
He was a much needed comic relief during one of the hardest times in my life, after the murder of one friend, the untimely death of another, and the suicide of yet one more in a four month span. All three of whom had been encouraging and offered advice in my quest to adopt a dog.
Sometimes for self-care, I buy him outfits and dress him up. During a local election, I let him rip up anti-choice literature, which was cathartic.
When we were house-hunting, we dismissed many homes because the yard wasn’t big enough/wasn’t fenced, or otherwise wasn’t good for the dog (like stairs being too steep, nowhere we could identify that we could keep his food dishes, etc). He was really excited when we bought our house. He got to help get things from Home Depot (though we have yet to determine who pooped in the paint aisle). He “blessed” the new home on his first visit, so we knew he liked it a lot. He really loves the squirrels who live in the big tree in the back yard but he’s very confused as to why they don’t love him back.
He was a huge hit at our wedding and reception. My dress has muddily paw prints on it and I don’t care.
Lastly, this dog. He’s knit/crochet-worthy. He sleeps with his blanket every night, after he scritches it into the perfect shape. He wears his bandana cowls with pride. Orange is his favorite color. Gingers can totally pull off orange.
Anyone up for some belly scratches?