Having a dog (or any pet for that matter) will change your life. Personally, I’ve had two dogs for about seven years now: Max and Lucy. They are such a big part of my life and I literally can’t imagine what my life would be like without them. They say that a good indication parenting skills become evident when you raise a pet. I believe this to be true.

I’m writing this article because I’ve been seeing and hearing about a lot of people giving away their dogs lately and it seriously breaks my heart. The reasons have ranged from work to changes in living arrangements. Everyone goes through their own struggles and situations, but it’s sad to me to see people seeing that giving their dog up as the solution. I even heard about someone recently posting on FB that since their dog was getting into the garbage and throwing up, they were going to put the dog down unless someone adopted her. They later removed the post.

I’m going to go back a bit to share my own story. Several years ago, I was in a long term relationship with my ex Jamie. He and I had been together for several years and had talked about getting a dog. Jamie was working at a job that allowed him to bring his dog to work and that was perfect for us… so we got one…Max (pictured above). (Sidenote: I ended up working at the same place shortly after so we had our dogs with us all the time!) Max is a miniature dachshund-chihuahua cross. If felt like he was a real child… crying in the night, accidents, getting into trouble. We learned very fast that it was a lot of work, but very rewarding. You think twice about how late you go out because you have a pet at home that is waiting for you to take them out. It may be raining or freezing cold and the last thing you want to do is go outside, but your dog needs to do his business and/or get some exercise. It’s truly a big commitment.

We found that we felt kinda bad whenever we would have to leave him in the evening if we had to go somewhere, so we thought it’d be a good idea to get a second one, so he’d have a companion. Enter his new spotted sister Lucy, who was also a dachshund-chihuahua cross. Her personality was very different from his, but they soon became best buds.

Fast forward to a few years later, and our relationship didn’t work out and we broke up. We now have a business together AND two dogs, so what was to happen to them when I moved out, etc? Well, the breakup was mutual and civil and since the dogs were so important to both of us, we decided to have “shared custody” of them. How has that worked out, you might wonder? Amazingly! The dogs are usually at our store during the day, but every 2-3 days, we alternate who takes them home. It also makes it easy if either of us is away because we have complete trust in the dogs being with the other.

The point of sharing my story is that giving up the dogs was never an option for us. We made it work for the sake of the dogs, and for each of our own sanity. Neither of us could imagine living without them.

To put it bluntly, dogs are not accessories that you can simply cast aside when it not longer suits you. These are living creatures, and the ownership of a dog is a full-time responsibility. The excuse that you have no choice, or that you have to give your dog away, for the most part doesn’t cut it. If you really wanted to keep your faithful companion, you would find a way to make it work. You’re making a choice to give your pet away because it’s more convenient than the alternative. Dogs love you unconditionally, and are unfalteringly loyal. I’m sure they’d hope for the same from their human counterparts.

The responsibility of getting a dog should not be entered into so lightly by most. It’s should be viewed as a commitment for the rest of the dog’s life. So before you get a dog (or any pet for that matter) think long and hard about why you’re getting it. If it’s because the dog is so cute and fluffy and you want to cuddle with it – don’t get one. If it’s because you’re ready for the responsibility of having a dog, and are willing to provide that dog with a home, exercise, companionship, and loyalty, and will never abandon the dog – get the dog.

I really challenge anyone considering getting a dog to ensure you’re in it for life and that you’re willing to make changes in your life to man up to the responsibilities of having a pet. This may mean less partying and less traveling. Another big thing to consider is the investment in training. You have to put the time, effort, and diligence into training your dog. You’ll be happier, and so will the dog as a result. Oh, and lastly there’s also the matter of picking up their poop. Nothing is worse than a dog owner that doesn’t pick up after their dog. I think everyone can agree on that.

In conclusion, I want to be clear that I’m not writing this article to rant about something or to be judgmental of others. For anyone that has given up their dog, I’m sure they’d be the first to want to encourage others that are thinking of getting a dog to be absolutely sure that they are willing to take on everything that goes along with it. They would know first hand how challenging it can be at times. If you’re unsure if you yourself could handle it, you should become a doggy uncle instead and spend time with your friend’s dog whenever you have time.

If you have a dog and you’re considering getting rid of him or her (for one reason or another), please read this article titled, “Don’t Dump Your Dog – Reasons to NOT Give Up Your Dog“.