I owned dogs throughout my whole childhood so I thought that I would be well prepared as an adult to adopt our first family dog a few months ago. However I didn’t realise that during childhood I was wearing heart-shaped goggles and only saw my dogs as wonderful fun companions without all of the responsibility that came with them- that was mum’s job, right?
We didn’t jump into dog ownership completely blind, of course we knew about walking, feeding, toys and digging. But since adopting Clifford we have learned so much more that we didn’t consider!
Realisation 1- We need a bigger car
After three months of having Clifford in our family, the only outing he’s been on was a trip to PetBarn. He simply does not fit in the car! We have a family of four, now five, so especially with the child seat in the back, there is no room for large hairy cargo. We will definitely have to consider swapping the Holden Malibu for a wagon if we’re ever going to have family + dog trips to the beach or park.
Realisation 2- Toys are actually consumables
Children don’t eat toys. You buy them for Christmas, the children play with the toys until they get sick of it, and then you donate it or sell it on Gumtree. I honestly did not expect Clifford to literally eat everything that’s given to him. “Indestructible” toys get ripped open after five minutes, “long-lasting” occupiers disappear into the abyss, ropes, dog tennis balls, Frisbees, beds, Great-Grandmas outdoor setting, all consumed. In the first month of having Cliffy I must have spent $300 on toys and goodies for him, but they’re almost all gone. My favourite toy replenishment though is Pet Circle’s Curious Dog Box, a delivery of surprises which you get for about 50% off!
Realisation 3- There’s so much poop…
This might seem like an obvious one, but when I was a kid my brother and I would take scoop duty in turns and we would do it after school so it never seemed like much of a deal. Now that I hold the PRIVILEGE of being Sole-Scooper (lucky me!) it has to wait until Saturdays, and oh boy is that a big task… On the upside though, sometimes I find some of those missing toys!
Realisation 4- It’s always snack time
Seriously dog, where are you putting it all?! Our cat Crowley will have a few bites of his food for dinner and then graze on it over the next twelve hours. But the dog inhales his food so fast that we needed to get him a Northmate Green Feeder to prevent bloat. And once he’s downed the kibble, he’s begging for love’em sausages! Dogs will eat and eat until the cows come home, so I’ve learned it’s really important to watch out for overfeeding and not to give in to those puppy dog eyes.
Realisation 5- It’s actually really hard to walk the dog every day
Despite good intentions that my dear husband had for walking the dog every day (and poop-scoop duty, hmm what happened there?) when we get up during the dark and get home during the dark it’s so hard to get motivated for a walk. We really just want to kick back with a glass and unwind, then start the dinner and bed process. But poor Clifford has been sitting at home by himself all day and would love to stretch his legs. I think this is the hardest thing we’ve come across! We’re going to have to make a mammoth effort to walk Clifford no matter what kind of mood we’re in, and whether it’s light, dark, hot or cold.
Here are some things that my colleagues have learned:
“Grooming wasn’t something we factored in. Having a Groodle, his coat needs constant maintenance. Also the cost of vet bills was surprising, despite having pet insurance. There are so many things they don’t cover and you’ll still have gaps to pay.” – Blair
“Never underestimate a long dog with little legs, those little legs can jump!” – Jackie
But overall all of us agree that nothing can prepare you for the joy and delight that a dog brings to your family. They teach us and our kids patience, discipline, love, how to be selfless, how to budget, meal-prep, put the shoes away really quickly and how to vacuum frequently even when we’re tired!