Whether you are adopting a dog, taking one from a responsible breeder, or buying one from a pet shop (preferably the former two), it’s important to understand that you are taking on a lifetime responsibility.
Being a responsible dog owner means:
- Being the main caregiver
- Having the resources to care for the dog
- Doing your best to fulfill the dog’s needs
- Not abandoning the dog because he/she is not what you expected – E.g. old, sick, big, destructive, or aggressive
- Not abandoning the dog because of external circumstances – E.g. you are moving house, migrating, or have a baby
Unless you are very sick or very old or became very poor, or because of war or an act of God you are unable to take care of the dog, as a responsible dog owner, you should not abandon your dog.
I have seen friends and acquaintances leaving their dogs with their parents when they move house or have a baby. The excuse is usually that they cannot cope now that they have a baby (why didn’t they think of that earlier) or that the dog is closer to their parents. The consolation is that they are not giving their dogs up to animal shelters, strangers, or the streets. The dogs still have a good home.
I wonder whether they understand that that is still plain irresponsible.
Why is the dog closer to someone else but them? It’s usually because they were not the main caregiver even though they were the ones who brought their dog home. That is irresponsible.
If your mindset is that you can give up a dog when things change, then don’t get a dog.
I have seen working parents with dogs whom they are committed to. They continue to love the dogs and not neglect them despite having children. They are living proof that if the baby is healthy, there’s no reason to pass the responsibility of caring for their dog to someone else permanently. It is a choice that we make.
Before you get a dog, you have to understand that dogs:
- are for life. And they live for an average of eight to 14 years
- cost money. Sometimes a lot of money
- require at least basic training and plenty of socialisation, exercise, and companionship
- thrive on a good diet
- may grow much bigger from puppyhood
- grow old and may at some point get sick or develop behaviourial problems that require patience and training
They get traumatised when abandoned and for those who are given up to shelters, they may never find another home.
Please think about the future before getting a dog.
If you think that you are not capable of being the main caregiver, then don’t get a dog. If your mindset is that you can give up a dog when things change, then don’t get a dog. Or if you think that you can compromise a dog’s wellbeing because of a baby or a situation, then don’t get a dog. It is that simple.
If you ever find yourself having to give up your dog, do the right thing of caring for him/her until you find a good home. But I urge everyone to try their best to not let it come to that.