Suzanne here to talk about dog math. It's not difficult, I promise.
Many people don’t fully consider the time span commitment of having a canine companion. That frustrates me. A while back, I had the opportunity to demonstrated my finesse and tact on this very topic.
(Is there a font for sarcasm? There should be.)
At a party, I met a delightful couple in their mid-70’s and we were enjoying conversation within a friendly group. The couple began talking about the puppy they would soon be getting.
(If you're thinking there may be a hint of why I don't get invited to many parties buried in this story, you are probably right.)
The couple extolled the virtues of the breed. When I asked how long the dog would be expected to live, they were quite pleased to tell me fifteen years was the norm, perhaps even longer. I waited a few seconds and then since they couldn’t seem to do the math, I did it for them.
“So when you are ninety,” I said, “you will be able to care for an elderly dog?”
The conversation died out as others suddenly needed to refill their drinks or get a snack.
No one questioned my arithmetic, by the way.
The numbers apply at both ends of the age spectrum.
10 year old human loves puppy. New puppy loves human.
11 year old human plays with dog. 1 year old dog plays with human.
12 year human walks dog. 2 year old dog walks with human.
16 year old human talks to dog. 6 year old dog listens to human.
18 year old human goes to college. 8 year old dog stays behind.
22 year old human gets job across the country. 12 year old dog sleeps in front of the family fireplace, a lot.
23 year old human is grateful to his parents and visits frequently.
That's how it worked for Thunder.
But not all puppies are so lucky.
Last math example, I promise. This one really 'frosts my petunias.'
18 year old human goes to college, misses childhood pet.
19 year old human convinces parents to rent him an apartment so he can move out of the dorms. 19 year old human adopts puppy.
20 year old human and 1 year old dog are best buddies. They run together, play Frisbee in the park. They hang out together, sharing pizza and companionship.
22 year old human gradates. 3 year old dog is now an inconvenience.
A dog is a great companion, but a dog is not disposable when its care is no longer convenient. If you can’t care for that new puppy for its entire lifespan, who will? Have that figured out, before you get the dog.
Do the math. Just saying.
Huff and I on our first day together!
People often get all teary eyed and extoll the virtues of someone like John Unger who cared for his senior dog with compassion. John's love for his dog Schoep was admirable. But shouldn’t this be the norm? John’s level of compassion should be the standard, not the outlier.
When you commit to a dog, you need to commit for the dog's entire life. Puppyhood. Adulthood. Senior Years.
The wisdom here is in fully understanding the commitment you are making.
Help with the dog math:
If you want to get a dog, but you're concerned about taking on that life long commitment, consider adopting an older dog.
Huff was 15 years old when I adopted him. We had 17 wonderful months together and I have no regrets.
If an older dog isn't for you take a look at these breeds.
Read more life lessons from my dogs.
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