One of the awesome things about being an adult is that we no longer have to beg our parents to let us get puppies. You’re a grown up—you do what you damn well please! And, of course, what you “damn well please” is to get a puppy—your very own snuggly, furry, happy canine friend—RIGHT NOW. Believe me, I know where you’re coming from. I got my pup last summer, and in the days leading up to finally taking her home, I could barely contain my excitement. (Seriously, I was bouncing off the walls with glee.) And you know what? Having a dog is awesome. Getting to raise a puppy, seeing how she’s grown and learned in the months I’ve had her, has been amazing. It has also been crazy. I thought I was prepared for how much work it was going to be, but I was still completely shocked by how much a three-pound creature was able to turn my life upside down.
As much as we want to take home every puppy we encounter, there are a lot of things you have to think about before taking the plunge into puppy ownership. I may sound like a stick in the mud, but it’s true: Having a dog is a huge responsibility, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. When you get a dog, you get her unconditional love and snuggles, but you’re also making a commitment to your pet that she will be well cared for—that she will never end up on the streets, in a shelter, or with people who can’t care for her. If you’re considering getting a dog, ask yourself these ten questions first:
1. Does your lease allow you to have a pet?
First thing’s first: Does your lease allow you to have an animal? If not, talk to your landlord about changing the lease. If he or she won’t budge on the pet issue, then either put off getting a pet or move to a place that will allow you to have one. This is really important. Some people think that they can sneak a pet into their apartments and that their landlords won’t notice, but this is really not OK—because if your landlord does notice and does evict you, it’s not just you who is suddenly homeless—it’s your dog, too.
2. Can you afford to have a dog?
Take some time to consider the financial costs of dog-ownership: vet bills, food, and a pet deposit on your lease, as well as, potentially, professional training and a dog walker. These things add up. Call a local vet and find out the average costs of routine care: vaccines, check ups, heartworm pills, and spaying or neutering. Be sure to think about emergencies, too—do you have a financial cushion that would allow you to pay for unexpected veterinary expenses? Puppies get sick and accidents happen that you can’t predict. You don’t want to end up in a situation in which you have to choose between caring for your dog and paying your rent.
3. Do you really want a puppy?
Puppies are super adorable, but they are also little monsters that require a ton of work and attention. If you don’t have the time or energy to deal with housetraining or the natural hyperness of puppies, consider getting an