Lessons from Dog-sitting

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One of my friends went away for a few weeks and I got to dog-sit their furry family member.  They have a small sized poodle mix, Shelly, who is adorable.

I love animals, and I know they are a lot of work (and money), but after this dog-sitting stint, I am even more convinced that I am not ready for a pet right now. This is what I’ve learned so far.

Pets are like children who never grow up

Pets will always need people to pick up after them, to feed them, and take them out for exercise.  They cannot care for themselves and are wholly dependent on their owners and care takers to care for them.

Unlike children, who can start to take care of themselves as they grow up, your pet can’t heat up food you left in the fridge for them.  If you don’t feed them, they likely won’t eat.

With all the time I spend out of the house – working, volleyball, spending time at BF’s, coming back to visit my parents. etc., I would not have enough time to care for a pet.

Pets need a lot of Attention

When I didn’t pay attention to Shelly, she would whine and cry, until I pet her or played with her.  I couldn’t even really sleep in on weekends because she whining and wanted me to get up and pay attention to her.

And even though I sound a bit bitter about my (lack of) beauty sleep, she is just so adorable and cute, that I can’t stay mad at her.

Pets are part of the family

Maybe this is a no brainer, but coming from someone who has never had a pet, I realized this.  Shelly has a personality, she has a temper and she is just like a person – only furrier and has four legs.

She gets scared of bigger dogs than her.  She will bark at squirrels and cats when there is a pane of glass between her and said animal.  But without the glass, she is a big wuss.

Pets age and need medical care

Shelly is fourteen years old.  Her hearing, eyesight and sense of smell have seen better days.  Because she is a small dog, her limbs are still okay, and she doesn’t have trouble going up and down stairs (like older bigger dogs).

But when she needs to see a vet, one day,  I am sure they are not cheap.

Ignorance can be Bliss

This is a different lesson from the above, but none the less, it’s something that was reinforced while dog sitting.  As I mentioned above, Shelly has started to lose her eyesight, her hearing and her sense of smell is not what it used to be.

Since Shelly is a small dog and a coward, she tends to avoid big dogs.  She will bark at them behind a pane of glass, but out in the real world, she will be between my legs shaking like a leaf.

One day, we were out on a walk and there was a big dog across the street barking really loudly at her.  The dog was probably at least 5 times her size and if she saw it, I’m sure she would have hid between my legs and refused to move unless she was carried away.  But since Shelly couldn’t hear the barks, and couldn’t see the big scary dog, she bounded along her walk with the bunny ears flapping behind, as if she owned the world 🙂

I couldn’t help but laugh and reflect.


I still love animals, but realize that right now, I am not ready for the commitment (both financially and time-wise) to a pet.  I am open to getting a pet later, and maybe when I have a partner who can also share the burden responsibility.

Do you have a pet?  What are your thoughts on pets? 



Filed under Personal

21 responses to “Lessons from Dog-sitting

  1. I helped my friend doggie sit once too and like you, I love pets – especially dogs, but I just don’t have the time for time. I feel bad leaving the dog at home 8 hours a day while I am at work. I think I will have a dog when I can work from home or if I am at home taking care of my kids 🙂

  2. I have a lovely dog and she certainly can be a burden however, the positive outweigh the negative for me. She is fantastic for relieving stress and I really enjoy having her around. Her poop.. not so much. When I dog sit I never want a pet but that is usually because the dogs are not well behaved. I like that if my dog gets out of the fence it doesn’t run away or when I walk it it doesn’t need to be on a leash to stick by my side. I guess I want a dog that is the least burden to my life.. maybe a little selfish.

  3. I’ve had pets in the past. It’s funny, whenever I think about getting a pet again, I cringe at the responsibilities. But when I had my own pets, it just felt like a natural thing to take care of them and I never thought about the work I had to put in. The responsibilities felt like a natural part of being with a family member that I love – I did consider my pets family members. It may be a lot of burden, but nothing beats having a loving, furry face to greet you everyday when you come home everyday, especially when you live alone.

  4. I used to run a rescue group for cats, which I started after I’d adopted 2 cats who needed homes. That lasted 5 years and I funded most of it myself. Needless to say, I am pretty aware of the responsibility animals require but, given that so many of them sit in shelters forever or are euthanized because there are no homes for them, I am compelled to step up for homeless companion animals. There are just so many of them and so few people who want them (people get pets they can’t handle, don’t fix their animals and get rid of the litters, people’s dr’s erroneously advise them to get rid of their dogs or cats if they’re pregnant, feral cats reproduce outside and people rescue the kittens but never fix the mom…then rescue more kittens, etc.)

    Since my apt is now full, I’ve stopped fostering cats for adoption but will still help spay/neuter efforts. And I still have 2 cats out of a colony of 15 I fixed about 7 years ago that I feed and provide water for daily.

    I have a monthly budget for my indoor cats and the 2 outdoor ones. I also save monthly for their vet bills – $250+ goes into a savings account for them monthly, and when it hits $14k, I divert that into my regular savings account. When it dips because one of them needs routine or emergency care, it gets built up to $14k again.

    This is on top of my 6 month emergency fund and a 401k and a partially funded Roth *and* a down payment savings account.

    They do take time and I have extra expenses like an apt cleaning svc, etc but they are very very worth it. I can’t imagine not having them as part of my life, no matter how busy or full it is.

  5. Red

    I can understand this, especially where dogs are concerned. My parents have a German Shepherd, and I love that dog to death. In fact, I love most big dogs I meet. (I’m not crazy about small breeds, as they’re usually yappy and remind me of my grandmother’s pet schnauzer who is spoiled in the extreme! It would take an insane amount of money for me to agree to dog-sit that terror.)

    We have two cats. They are a responsibility. I clean their litter box daily, and we buy food and litter about twice a month. Because they’re inside cats, the vet told us taking them in once every 2-3 years was okay, though they go in if they’re experiencing sickness or some other kind of physical ailment.

    Cats are much lower maintenance than dogs. Though one of our cats is co-dependent (abandonment issues), they spend most of the day sleeping or off doing their own thing. If they do hang around us, they just lay in bed or on the couch with us and sleep, lol. Cats are so damn lazy.

    They are a big responsibility though, and I applaud you for recognizing that you’re not ready for it just yet. It breaks my heart when people get pets and can’t give them the time/attention/support they deserve.

  6. LC

    This is of no disrespect to Shelly’s owners, because I know dogs in her breed who are the same, but not all dogs are like Shelly. My parents’ yorkies love sleeping in and don’t bark at anything (until the doorbell rings). With that being said, pets ARE a lot of work. I’ve been drafting a post about this for a while, as I’m in the same boat as you… I am a huge dog lover but don’t have the time or money to commit to one yet. Sounds like spending time w/ Shelly taught you a great lesson. 🙂

  7. I would love to get a dog someday. Right now, it is not in the budget. Like you said, there are a lot of costs to consider. But they are so darn cute!

  8. I have four Cockers myself and really loved your post.

  9. I know they seem like they are really a lot of work, but it is SO rewarding. They give you unconditional love when the world (or maybe even your BF lol) can’t!.

    I love my dog and wouldn’t trade anything for him.

  10. Pingback: Weekend Ramblings & PF Blog Love: Ex-Mall Rat Edition | youngandthrifty.ca

  11. My dog is a lot of work, and severly restricts where I can live (have to live with roommates who get home on time on a regular basis, since I don’t.)

    But I enjoy the responsibility of having to take care of someone/something other than myself. I like having a solid reason for a calming morning walk, and I have a fun time taking her to training classes, working on her obedience and agility skills. She’s definitely worth the headaches that come along with her!

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