‘A dog is not for Christmas’ is a well-known saying that encapsulates what it means to be a dog owner – it’s not just one day, or the good days, or the days you actually want to go for a walk in the rain. Alexandra Fraser does away with the sugar coating and explains why a furry friend might not be the most appropriate gift this year.
The thing is, Wilf eats socks.
Dirty socks, clean socks, fluffy socks, ankle socks. They don’t even have to be loose socks – he’ll chew them right off your feet.
He’s also very smart. Sometimes this is a blessing, like when he picked up ‘paw’ in ten minutes flat. Sometimes it’s a curse that leaves you questioning whether he actually needs to go outside, or whether he’s going to use your chair as a springboard for the kitchen table the second you vacate it.
‘All the reading and preparation in the world didn’t prepare me for how much time goes into raising a puppy, especially a clever, energetic, ever-so-slightly-Machiavellian one’
I’m not saying that being a dog owner isn’t magical – almost every time those little eyes in that little face look up at me, I’m reminded that there is one thing in this world that will love me unconditionally no matter how many times I forget to buy toilet paper.
But sometimes it’s not a walk in the park.
Like when you want to have a bubble bath and he’s not happy about being left downstairs for twenty minutes. Or when you want to cook a meal without something biting your ankles. Or when he decides to sing the song of his people while you’re in a meeting with two of your managers.
It’s fair to say that my life revolves around that furry thing with four paws and sharp claws. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but all the reading and preparation in the world didn’t prepare me for how much time goes into raising a puppy, especially a clever, energetic, ever-so-slightly-Machiavellian one.
‘He seems to have limited his culinary appetite to dirty clothing and the occasional nibble of a bike pedal’
Dogs are wonderful to have around for the festive season, but they’ll still be there when you’re back at work two weeks later. I know that I would have struggled to cope with puppy Wilf during busy season last summer – It would have been almost impossible to look after him as well as he deserved.
I love my pup, I wouldn’t give him up for the world. But deciding to get Wilf was the biggest decision of my life so far. I sat down and thought about the next ten to fourteen years. Where would I be in my 30s? Where would I be living? What would I be doing?
Wilf’s presence is a present, but I’m glad that I knew all of the risks and responsibilities before I wrapped him in a paw-print blanket and took him home.
The five reasons why you shouldn’t get a dog this Christmas
Time. We thought it would take a month or two to get Wilf to the stage that he could go into my partner’s ‘office’ (a boathouse) and not be a total menace. It has taken longer. This means that I’m alone with Wilf 12/7, which in turn means no popping out for lunch, no quick errands, no eating chocolate on the sofa. Being a dog owner changes your life in a way that I, having owned at least one dog for most of my memorable life, couldn’t anticipate. If you don’t have the time, don’t do the crime.
Extra expenses. Wilf had a weepy eye a month or two ago and it cost me £60 for the vets to tell me he was perfectly fine – and I’d do it again 100 times over to keep him safe and healthy. I said it when we were deciding to get Wilf and I’ll say it again – a dog is not a one-time purchase.
The worry. Conkers. Tulips. Box hedges. The fluffy insides of his thrice-mended ducky. There are so many things that your dog can consume that will make them poorly, or seriously ill. And they will try to eat anything – except the brand-new expensive dog food that you just bought for them.
The carnage. My first dog ate through a family set of clogs in one night. Wilf is similarly destruction prone, but seems to have limited his culinary appetite to dirty clothing and the occasional nibble of a bike pedal. His affair with our skirting boards was thankfully short-lived, but I do not have a single intact set of tights or socks, and I doubt I will until he’s at least a year old.
The responsibility. It’s a whole other life, living in your house, rent free. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you go visit that adorable puppy – because by then, it’s too late.
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Being a responsible dog owner is more than just picking up after your pup and stopping them from stealing sandwiches
Alexandra Fraser and her partner didn't decide to get a dog; they merely decided to go and see a dog.
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