Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Joys of Dog Ownership

"Be warned: Having a dog could take a toll on your home."

I have to chuckle at this quote from the article entitled "So You're Thinking About Getting a Dog," written by Houzz contributor Alison Hodgson. It's true, dogs can be messy. But I wouldn't trade having dogs in the house for anything. Despite the ever-accumulating dog hair and dust, the scratch marks on the wood floors, nose prints on the glass and occasional throw up on the rugs (why can't they get sick on the tile floor?), our dogs are a constant source of laughter and joy. Sure, I wish they could help with the daily housekeeping routine rather than adding to it. But ultimately our dogs are worth the extra work. They're always happy to see us, they stay by our side when we're sick, and they do funny things that make us smile when we've had a bad day. What could be better?

Adding Ella (above) to our pack has ultimately been a very good thing. However, her first week with us was difficult. To be honest, I was beginning to think it wasn't going to work. I even called Ella's foster mom in tears. There were times Ella tried to be the dominant dog over Phoebe and Henry, which worried me. But after a couple of reprimands (from me, not from the dogs), she got the picture and has behaved herself ever since. Ella also had separation anxiety the first two weeks, which resulted in things getting knocked over, scratches on wooden blinds and furniture, and hours of endless barking. It was her pitiful barking that was most upsetting to me. But looking back on it, adding a third dog could have been so much more challenging than it was. 


I'm pleased to say that Ella has settled in nicely. The three dogs get along great. Instead of barking and panicking when we leave, Ella now sleeps during the day, sometimes curled up on the guest bed with Henry (it can be difficult to train an older dog who is used to sleeping on beds and sofas out of the habit, so we conceded. A towel on the bed helps keep hair off the quilt).



Last Thursday, as required by our county shelter, Ella was spayed -- at 10 years of age, poor girl! Additionally she needed to have two mammary gland tumors and a few other growths surgically removed. We also had her teeth cleaned. They were in bad shape; I doubt her previous owner took any interest in preventive care. The vet had to extract 11 teeth, which I thought was a lot. But did you know a dog has 42 teeth and will manage just fine even when many of them have to be removed? The morning after Ella's surgery, she gobbled down her breakfast with no difficulty.

Pet ownership is a big responsibility. It requires a time commitment (our dogs enjoy long walks and hikes nearly every day, thanks to their dedicated dog daddy) and a financial commitment (Ella's day at the vet set us back more than $500), but the payback is great. Read Alison Hodgson's article on Houzz.com for four questions to ask yourself before getting a dog. 

Lastly, I'd like to encourage you to adopt from your local shelter rather than buying from a breeder or pet store. The larger shelters have literally hundreds of animals coming through their doors each month, and there is bound to be one that will make a great addition to your family. And because many people these days are having to surrender their pets due to financial problems or change of residence, there are more purebred dogs (like Ella) showing up at shelters.

Do you have a pet adoption story to share? If so, please leave a comment! 

Thanks for reading this (long) post. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some vacuuming to do.

28 comments:

  1. I just want to say what a wonderful thing to adopt a dog, welcome him/her into your home, and love them unconditionally - as they love us ! We recently lost our 12 year old lab, Bo, and I can't tell you how quiet and lonely our home is now....The dog really is the 'soul' of the house, and we miss him every day. When I'm ready, I will adopt from our local shelter, and I commend you highly for giving a home to 3 'mature' loving souls !

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Patricia. I'm so sorry to hear about Bo. No matter their age, it's incredibly difficult to lose our beloved pets, isn't it. I know it will take time, but eventually you'll be ready to welcome another lucky dog into your home.
      Claudia

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  2. That is soooo sweet!! I admire you for adopting shelter pets rather than buying from a breeder. The first thing I do when I am not working full time is to go to my local shelter and get a dog in need of a good home. For the time being, I have 3 cats and my cats follow me around as if they were dogs. Thank you for your wonderful post!

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    1. Thank you, Beth. I loved seeing the photo of Jake, one of your cats. I'll bet the three of them are a hoot! Good for you for adopting! Thanks for following My Little Bungalow.
      Claudia

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  3. I love it when you share stories and photos of the doggies. I cannot imagine our house without our dogs. Yes, they have accidents when they are sick, get the white floors dirty, drool on the antiques....but who cares. When Panda and Mocha go over the rainbow bridge, we're adopting from the shelters.

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    1. Thanks, Loi. I'm glad you enjoy the doggie posts! I hope Panda and Mocha will be with you for many more years. And I hope their health situations are better, too.
      Claudia

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  4. I'm glad that Ella has settled in and things have settled down. I know it can be tough to bring a new personality in to a house. I commend you for taking on three; it's not only a big commitment, it's a lot of work.

    It's always fun to see your family photos!

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    1. Thanks, Steve! I have to admit something. Just last night we were watching TV, and the dogs were all chilling out around us, and I thought, "I'd love to add a fourth dog ..." Crazy, I know!
      Claudia

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  5. Really great post! But $500 for the spay, removal of cysts and extractions. May I ask where you live? I live in New Jersey and the Vet bill for all that work would have come close to $2,000!

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    1. Hi Anonymous! We live in the southeast where cost of living is less (I grew up in NJ), but I need to explain the $500 bill. The spaying was not included in that charge. It was part of the $107 adoption fee we paid previously. This vet has an agreement with the shelter and currently does all their spaying/neutering. The doctor is super nice and she gave me a major discount on all services because Ella was a shelter dog (and is older). The teeth extraction was only $50 (would have been close to $200), the surgical removal of the growths was $225, and the dental cleaning was $105 (would have been over $200). There were other surgery charges, but some were zeroed out! They were very kind. Ella gets her stitches removed Friday and I'm going to bring an orchid plant or something to show my deep appreciation and gratitude.
      Claudia

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  6. Hi Claudia,
    What a lucky dog Ella is to have such a patient and generous mama! Dominance and separation issues have been our challenges with Andy who came to us at 6 months of age after some trauma. Luckily they all work out as the dogs age and humans are consistent as you and your husband know.

    We only have Andy right now, trying to keep things simple for a possible move in a the future but we have had a houseful of pets most of our married life. One more dog does not really make much difference, you are already performing the same tasks anyway. Just another dog bowl and a bit more food, poop and hair but another
    creature to love and be loved by!

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  7. Bravo Claudia!! I loved this post (as you knew I would;) As I've written before I think you and your husband are both "puppy angels"! You are a wonderful pack leader and a great alpha dog! I love that with just a few corrections from you (the alpha, mama, dog;) that Ella realized who was the boss in the house. So important and I'm so happy that everything is working out.
    The white snouts slay me. Have you ever seen the book "Old Dogs"? I can't look at it without sobbing. Such sweet gorgeous faces. I adore the face of an older pup. Ella's little nose is starting to turn white and I try not to let it make me sad that she is almost 9, but to let it reminds me to love each and every day with her that much more. Everyday I tell her how happy I am that she is here with us. They do indeed add such joy in life.

    I also wanted to mention that in addition to looking at local shelters people can look on petfinder.com at dogs all across the country. There are so many rescue groups now, that if you find "your" dog across the country there is probably a rescue that will work to transport that dog to you. Also, if looking for a purebred, many purebreds show up in shelters across the country, and there are also "purebred" rescue groups too! So many dogs that need a home, thank you for advocating adopting!

    hugs and kisses to your pack!
    xxojoan

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    1. Joan, thank you for your sweet comment and your continued support of My Little Bungalow. I appreciate your comments so much! Yes, I've seen the book "Old Dogs," and like you, it brings tears to my eyes. I think it's a beautiful idea, but also very sad. Great tip about petfinder.com and the pure breed rescue groups -- they are wonderful resources. I have a personal mission to adopt from our county shelter over the no-kill Humane Society or other rescue groups mainly because they do have to euthanize, so I feel that I am saving a dog's life, literally. It's that kind of thinking, however, that is making me want to adopt dog #4 some day ... Crazy, right?
      Claudia

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  8. I LOVE this. How fabulous she has you now. Poor darling having to be spayed at her age! When I add #2 I'm coming to you for pointers :)

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    1. Stephen, thanks for visiting MLB. I hope you do adopt a second dog one day. I think it's really nice for the dog to have another canine to bond with. They really do seem to be happier. But you do have to be sure they are a good fit so you will have a harmonious home. Good luck!
      Claudia

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  9. Hi Claudia,

    Such a lucky pup to have YOU. We have two English Springers that believe they are human:) Lots of work (I know!!) but well worth it when they are snuggling with you. My senior Springer is getting a little senile in her old age. It's sad and funny all at the same time. Our one year old is so patient and kind. I'm glad we have them both.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    xxleslie

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  10. What a sweet story! Ella is so lucky..and so are you. We had a dog for 13 years and it was pure joy, throw up and all! She was truly my second daughter. And you know, we still talk about her almost every day. But no, we just cannot get another one: wrong time, wrong way of life for us and for a dog.
    The image of all three of them in their beds is just wonderful!

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  11. A beautiful story and it sounds like your family and Ella were both blessed to find each other. She is a beautiful girl. Yes, it's a huge commitment. I am so glad she's fitting in so well!!! You sound like an awesome doggy Mum.

    I just spent $500 on an ultrasound for the cat today, but it is worth every penny for all the love they give (and get).

    xo T.

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  12. Loved reading this! Lucky Ella, but really, lucky YOU! Have to agree that dogs are worth every bit of mess that happens in (& out) of the house. Animals can teach us so much...one just needs to open your heart to learn from them. Thanks for this wonderful post!
    Lisa

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  13. I love your blog. Thank you so much! Julie

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  14. What gems you and your husband are Claudia! I love seeing your babies, and it's wonderful to hear Ella has adjusted so well. Yes, they are a lot of maintenance and expense, but worthe every bit of trouble. I can't imagine life without one, our Golden Retriever, Rio makes us laugh every day! I think there is a lucky 4th waiting to join your happy home!

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  15. How is Ella? I also love animals, particularly cats. Both dogs and cats fill our lifes and become part of our families. I love your blog. Greetings from Chile!!

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  16. Just found your blog and I love it! We have three dogs (and two cats!) and I volunteer with rescue; to see someone so nice (that loves to eat well and has a lovely home) that ALSO adopts a senior dog!?!?! You won me over!
    Thanks for setting such an example of love:)
    Ava in North Carolina

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    1. Ava, thank you so much -- you just made my week! I am touched, and appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog and leave such a nice comment. Thanks to dedicated volunteers and pet owners like you, rescue animals have a chance at a great life.
      Claudia

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  17. I saw your blog name over at An Urban Cottage and decided to stop over.
    I was loving your home and the great recipes but then I came to this post and read about Ella. My eyes are filled with tears. This post made my heart so happy. I have rescued several elderly pets and I wish so badly that other people would too. Thank you so much for taking Ella into your loving home!
    and...I'm your newest Follower! I look forward to reading more about your fur family!

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    1. Hi Cynthia. I'm so glad to have you as a follower of MLB, and thanks so much for your sweet comment. Yes, we love our older dogs. Did you see the post about Henry? We adopted him last fall. The shelter estimated his age at 7, though we think he might be a couple of years younger. He's fantastic too! As you know, there are many benefits to adopting older pets. Fortunately I'm seeing a trend where we live in the number of people choosing adult and senior dogs. Makes me so happy. Thanks again for taking time to comment. It means a lot to me!
      Claudia

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  18. So sweet! We just adopted our second dog, a 7 year old pitbull. Best decision ever :)

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    1. Hello, and thanks for visiting. I just went to you blog, and your new dog, Birdie, looks like a sweetheart. Kudos to you for adopting an older dog. I'm so happy to read that she has settled in nicely. She's lucky to have you and her new sibling, Shep.

      Your home is charming too!
      Claudia

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