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When Is a Good Time NOT to Get a Puppy?

Updated on August 21, 2012
Adorable.  A six-week old Cocker Spaniel.
Adorable. A six-week old Cocker Spaniel. | Source

"Mom, Can We Get a Puppy Today?"

If your kids are anything like mine, they ask you at least once a day when they can finally get a puppy. So far our home is pet free, even when my oldest son keeps reminding me that I had promised him a dog for his 8th birthday.

True, but eight seemed lightyears away when he was just five. I have definitely learned my lesson.

Cooley, at three months, with her 'lovey'.
Cooley, at three months, with her 'lovey'. | Source

When & Why a Dog Becomes a Pet

Who could say no to this adorable black Cocker Spaniel that entered our lives in March of this year? She was just 6 weeks old when we first met. And she was literally hand delivered to us.

Here's the full story: my Dad passed away on January 20 after a long and very debilitating health battle. My Mom had wanted a puppy for a long time herself, quietly hoping it would arrive under the Christmas tree last year. But because of my father's compromised immune system, that wish was rather difficult to fulfill.

We even already had a name picked out: Cooley. Cooley to remember a selfless and most generous man in his fifties who had died in a motorcycle accident and donated his liver to save my father's life.

It was, by and large, an emotional purchase. And a hope for a new beginning when we stumbled upon the online listing. Cooley was the same bread as the dogs my Mom grew up with, she was born on the same day as my mother's father 105 years ago, and the breeder was fully on board with delivering her 5 hours south directly to our front door step. It was a done deal before we even got started.

Cooley came into our family under the agreement that we would all share her. My Mom would keep her most of the time, but whenever she would travel, Cooley would stay with us. Still, you should have seen the look on my son's face when she first arrived. Happy to finally have a dog in the family, heartbroken that she was not entirely ours to keep.

Cooley with two toys:  the orange ring which she is supposed to be playing with and the pacifier in her mouth which actually belonged to my 3-year-old.
Cooley with two toys: the orange ring which she is supposed to be playing with and the pacifier in her mouth which actually belonged to my 3-year-old. | Source

Timing is Everything

We have three boys, ages 3, 7 and 9. And, I suppose, now we have 1 girl. Age 6 months. Which is exactly part of the reason why I am thankful Cooley is only ours when she is 'on loan'. Regardless of how my kids feel.

Don't get me wrong. I love dogs, too. But taking the plunge with a puppy is a decision that must be made with the entire family in mind, and also in terms of the circumstances. Cooley was a perfect choice for my Mom, now a young widow and eager for a 'new job' and some company.

Here is why I feel getting a puppy is not yet a good idea for our immediate family of five:

  • First and foremost, my patience is at an absolute minimum. Unfortunate, but a fact of life. I have had a multitude of personal struggles over the last three years, and I often feel already maxed out just taking care of our three boys.
  • Second, the level of additional chaos a puppy creates is not to be underestimated. If the boys are chill, the dog is ready to play. If the dog needs a rest, the boys are ready to wild her up.
  • Third, we are back on a schedule whenever Cooley is ours to keep. We had just begun to taste freedom when our youngest turned three. Now, we must make an early exit because the dogs need to be let out. Or we need to get up earlier than expected because the dog needs to pee.
  • Fourth, it seems my three-year-old got out of diapers at the exactly the same time as Cooley needed to be potty trained. The verdict is still out whether it is more fun to change a diaper or to clean up dog poop on the living room floor.
  • Fifth, a puppy is a like move back in time when it comes to baby proofing the house. One time, we weren't sure whether Cooley had swallowed a blue Lego until she pooped it out.
  • Sixth, puppies need time and energy to be disciplined. The other night, Cooley stole a carrot off our dinner plates right off the table. I think I have enough on my hands making sure my kids don't wipe their hands on their shirts.
  • Seventh, and we all know this to be true, no matter how much the kids say they will help, the novelty wears off in a couple of weeks. The job of feeding, walking and cleaning up after the dog remains mine.
  • Eighth, a six-month old puppy is approximately the same size as a three-year-old. And, extremely interested in all things a three-year-old touches. From pacifiers to loveys, dirty diapers and more, they seem to have a love-hate relationship. How would you feel if someone jumped up to your nose just after you woke up from a nap?

Cooley: Looking for Trouble

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