Is Single Dog-Ownership Selfish?
"Ruff" Beginnings in Rescuing a Dog
I was devastated when my application to rescue a dog was denied. The reason I wasn't considered was because I was single and worked away from home. For a while, I believed them and thought I wasn't fit to be a dog owner. I questioned myself with previous dogs. Was I selfish? Should I be a dog owner? I even considered a cat. Then I realized I am indeed a good dog owner and I found a wiggly butt chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy to prove it.
The drive to pick her up was nerve-wracking. For one thing, she was a state away and I didn't get to meet her before picking her up. I remember driving there with my friend and wondering what I'd do if she liked my friend better. I considered that my friend might be a better home for her since she has a husband and kids. But as luck would have it, when we walked in the door, little wiggly butt came straight to me. The rest is history, and she is now my almost inseparable best friend.
Pros to Single Dog-Ownership
- Your dog gets more attention. What? More attention? How is that possible? A busy family is just that: a busy family. Sure, a single person may be on the go, but not as much as when there is a sweet pooch waiting at home. The alternative is to live on the go with the dog. My pup learned at a young age how to travel and be a great canine citizen as we dine at our favorite brew pub's patio. You might say she was a brew pup . . . okay, bad pun.
- You meet more people. I moved to a small town before my latest dog. I only knew one neighbor. I have introvert tendencies, especially when it comes to meeting new people. Before the pup, I would go inside and watch Netflix. Sometimes I'd wander down a nearby trail, but I didn't make eye contact with people. (Insert happy, extroverted, lab pup here.) I met neighbors! I had a ready-made conversation starter . . . "Yes, you can pet her, but she'll jump and lick your nose." It opened the door to some great friendships in that small town!
- Your dog can share the bed. Forget about competing with a significant other, with a single dog owner, the pup can move in for a bed takeover. Trust me, it's a takeover.
- You have a companion. Everyone knows this one. Which would you rather have: come inside to a silent house and turn on the TV, or come inside to a wagging tail of joy forcing you to go outside and get fresh air?
Cons to Single Dog-Ownership
- Guilt. Your dog is waiting at home for you while you're working all day. This can lead to feelings of guilt.
- Spoiled-Dog Syndrome. Since your dog is getting all of your attention, it can become a little, eh, how do I say this? Spoiled.
- The humanized dog. If it's just you and the dog, they may start deciding they are less dog and more human. Trust me, if you have met my pup, it's a thing.
- Out of town trips. When you're out of town for work or pleasure and the dog has to stay home, it's hard. I have 2 to 3 dog sitters handy that I trust with my life. If you are going to be gone for a significant time, I recommend a shorter trial run to build trust.
Tips for the Working, Single Dog-Owner
I still felt guilty when I drove to work and had to leave my puppy at home. I actually worked half days and burned-up vacation time so I could ease us into our new life together. It wasn't perfect! I came home to find some carpet chewed. (I think she saw a spider.) There were quite a few home-repair projects that were inspired by my little lab, too. Here is what I learned throughout the process:
- I worried about separation anxiety. To combat this, I tried not to make a big deal out of leaving. Instead, I gave her a kong toy filled with frozen treats or I'd hide treats around the house for her to find. I still do that today and it has become part of our routine.
- Dogs LOVE routines. People who say dogs don't keep time haven't paid enough attention to a humanized dog. Figure out what your routine is with your dog and keep it as consistent as possible.
- Engage the brain to decrease energy. Honestly, if someone offered to take my dog for a six-mile jog or to work on nosework or puzzles, I'd pick the nosework and puzzles. When the dog uses their brain it wears them out! I got into a routine of doing three searches with my dog three times a day and it did wonders for her energy level and my sanity level.
- If you can afford it, doggy daycare is great. I had a great, small, private doggy daycare I used for a while. It helps with flexibility and the guilt of leaving the pup alone during the workweek. If you can't afford doggy daycare, make sure your dog has a doggy best friend and playtime at the dog park.
- Invest in dog training. It's a great way to build your relationship with your dog with the training classes and practicing the lessons.
- Know your support system. If something comes up it's great to know in advance who you can call. I work in a dog supportive office that is understanding in true emergencies. There are dog-friendly offices out there too; think about that as an option, as well.
The Experience Will Change Your Life
Being a single dog owner will change your life. It will change the way your social life looks, but you will find a way to make it work for you and your dog. Sometimes I look at my dog and tell her she drew the short straw, getting me as an owner since the rescue felt I wasn't a fit dog owner. Then I laugh and she wags her tail. She knows how good she has it! When you find your perfect dog, they'll know how great they have it with you as well.
I Do Believe in Dog Rescues
I want to add that I do believe in dog rescues. The one I was trying to go through was private and they were extreme on their screening process. I have two friends, both single with jobs, who've adopted the most amazing pups from the Humane Society. I am debating on starting the process to adopt a second dog myself.
Do you think single dog ownership is selfish?
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