Things I Wish I Knew Before Adopting A Dog
When my husband and I were moving into our new home, we both knew that our home will not be complete without a dog; He had grown up with one while I have always wanted one. We were dreaming of all the moments we would share with our furry companion, and while we never regretted our decision to adopt Talia, I wish I knew these things (to prep myself mentally) before adopting a dog:
You’re Gonna Spend A Lot of Money
I thought I would be a chill pawrent, and she’s just gonna get the basics. She’s gonna sleep on the IKEA bath mat (recommended to us by the shelter), eat her kibbles, and probably have just a leash, collar and a couple of toys under her name. Well, I thought wrong. Talia currently has two beds (she even had a Sealy dog bed at one point which I sold at a loss because she decided that she doesn’t want to sleep on it), one crate, a boxful of toys, more leashes and collars than she needed, and enjoys a home-cooked diet and pet treats. But that’s not all.
There are vet visits, both scheduled and unscheduled ones that will happen. If you think a visit to the doctor is expensive, a trip to the vet is even more so. While I know roughly how much the yearly check-up visits would cost, it’s the unpredictable trips to the vet that really burn a hole in my pockets. After one acute pancreatitis episode, I now set aside a rainy day fund for Talia for such unpredictable situations!
What’s more, if you don’t own a car, the cost of bringing your dog out for fun activities is even higher. Before we had a car, I had to get a GrabPet ride everywhere to take Talia out to fun experiences. A trip to the beach to and fro could easily come up to $30, and if excursions are a frequent thing, things would quickly add up.
Do Not Expect Your Dog To Be Like Other Dogs
When we first got Talia, we wondered why she was so different from what we expected of a dog. She didn’t care much for other dogs when we are out on walks, and she doesn’t engage in play with dogs even if we bring her to the dog park. It took me a while to come to terms that she has her own personality, and that she takes a while to warm up to other dogs. Even then, she only has a small group of doggy friends that she would initiate play with.
Extended Travel or Weeknight Plans Will Be A Thing Of The Past
Before we had Talia, going away for extended periods of time was no issue. Now, we don’t go away longer than 2 weeks, firstly because our family members are taking turns to dog-sit her, and secondly, I would miss her far too much. We also used to have dates on weeknights, but we no longer do so because she needs to be taken out for her potty breaks as she’s grass-trained, and she would be starving since she only had her meal more than 12 hours ago. Unless a family member can come in to take care of her on our behalf on weeknights, weeknight plans are now history.
Training Doesn’t Stop, Ever
I thought passing the obedience test required for dogs under Project ADORE would be the end of all the training that’s required. Most people usually stop there (and so would I), but after Talia developed separation anxiety and also ran out of my workplace once, so I decided to engage a trainer to help her with that, and to work on her recall. We are done with the second round of training, but we still go for classes and talks to learn more about dog handling and understanding Talia better. We train because I want to be able to take her out everywhere with me. Everyday, we still practise what we have learnt and occasionally teach her new things to keep it interesting for her!
If You Choose To Feed A Home-Cooked Diet, Make Sure It’s Nutritionally Balanced
We didn’t manage to transition Talia to a kibble diet because she was a picky eater, and partly because she was fed a diet of rice and pork when she was at the factory. She is used to fresh food, and we decided to keep it that way.
What we learnt from our first trainer was that the food intake should be about 2-3% of her body weight so we kept that in mind when we prepared her meals. In terms of her diet, she got eggs, brown rice, carrots, minced pork/beef. However when she started to itch and scratch more, we decided to do an elimination food trial to determine the source of her itch.
The vet recommended us to start with a protein that she hasn’t tried before, and duck was our option at that point. We started giving her minced duck, she was just enjoying it, and I only realised my folly when she started having black tarry stools and vomiting. She was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, and after the vet gave us the all-clear, I decided to engage a nutritionist to design her diet and conduct the elimination food trial at the same time in a safe way. That’s when I realised that while we want to feed our dogs fresh food, it is important that it’s nutritionally balanced to avoid unnecessary health problems.
You Will Learn A Lot Of Things
If you wish to give your dog the best life possible, you would probably be on a lifelong journey to acquire knowledge and to understand your dog better. I’ve learnt things I never knew before like how to trim a dog’s nails, to prepare kefir and even animal communication. I enjoy learning so, yay for us!