Love is a Four Legged Word - Are You Actually Ready To Be a Dog Owner?

Pretty much anyone who has ever had a dog will gush about how wonderful it is to share your life with a four legged friend. What could be better than having a furry shadow who thinks you are the greatest thing in the world. No matter what, they will greet you with a smile and a waggy tail. They are constant, forgiving, loyal, funny, stress relieving, good for your health - in fact just awesome. Hang on though, before googling the perfect dog for you  - we have a few questions for you to think about…

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Can you handle the poo? A dog however small will create mountains of it everyday that needs collecting and disposing of - yuck!!

Are you home enough to care for one? If you are away every other weekend, or putting long shifts in at the office and your dog will be left alone for hours during the day then the answer is no. A dog left alone particularly when young will act up, become destructive and disruptive - in other words a pain in the neck.

You really want a puppy - but do you really want a dog? A cute puppy is adorable and will boost your instagram feed but puppies quickly turn into dogs so make sure you know what you are in for.

Are you financially ready? Dogs are expensive - even little ones. Vets bills, food, dog sitting, insurance, grooming, toys etc etc. If your disposable income doesn’t quite cover your current outgoings and leave room for a holiday then you can’t afford a dog.

Do you love cleaning? Having a dog means you will have to do twice as much particularly if your dog moults.

Can you get up at the crack of dawn every day regardless of how little sleep you have had? No matter how well trained, a dog will get up with the sunrise which means so will you.

No matter what the weather and how tired you are walks are required - twice a day. Your dog will take no notice of the weather forecast.

You think others will help with the care - No they won’t!! Friends and family who promise they will help if you go ahead and decide to get a dog will melt into the background once they have looked after them and the little darling has chewed their sofa or pooed on the carpet - and your empty nester parents are never home long enough to be relied upon. It’s all down to you.

The dream does not need to be over. If you feel that you might not be in the right place in your life to commit to having a dog who relies solely on you for the next 10 years of your life…

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Does this mean though that you can’t benefit from spending quality time with a four legged friend? There are lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with dogs of all shapes and sizes that can give you that ‘doggy fix’ without the 10 year responsibility contract. If you look close to home you might know neighbours, family, friends who have a dog who could do with help walking and the occasional doggy holiday. Local rescue centres are always looking for volunteers as are dog assistance charities - just google ones near you.

borrowmydoggy.com is an organisation that has been set up to share the love of dogs - connecting dog owners with local dog borrowers for walks, weekends and holidays.

The Cinnamon Trust is a national charity established by Virginia McKenna and Sir Paul McCartney to help the elderly and the terminally ill keep their dogs with them. They are constantly looking for volunteers to walk these dogs and/or foster them for short periods of time during hospital stays. Visit cinnamon.org.uk for more information.

Getting involved with dogs on this basis might just give you all the four legged love you need - for now anyway.