Clients often ask me what kind of dog I have. Most are quite surprised to find out that I’m not a dog owner. I’ve had a few over the years, but I don’t currently have one and have no plans to get another any time soon. When asked why, I offer one of the following reasons.
The short answer that I give most often is, “They’re too much work!” Sometimes I follow that with, “I love dogs, but I love kids too and I don’t have one of those either.” Owning a dog is a phenomenal amount of work! Before I make any purchase or commitment, I ask the question, “Is it worth sacrificing my freedom for this thing?” Whether it’s money or time, I’m reluctant to give up my freedom to do what I want when I want. As much enjoyment as I derive from having a dog, I value my freedom even more.
I would never own a dog without taking her to the off leash dog park or dog day care every day and that’s a huge commitment. If I had a dog I would feel guilty every time I left the dog at home alone. I don’t like living my life feeling guilty, so I don’t have a dog. I understand that my view is not shared by most people. People tell me that their dogs simply lie around when they are home together and that their dogs do the same thing even when they are gone. I don’t believe it for a second, but then, unlike most people, I can think like a dog. I’ve seen my roommate’s dogs when he leaves and comes home and seen them sitting by the door watching the door intently for the last hour before he comes home. They do lie around a lot and sleep when he’s gone, but it’s very different than the way they lie around when he’s there. When he’s home they are content — when he’s gone they are anxiously awaiting his return.
I don’t approve of the way most people keep dogs in this country. This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about improving dog/owner relationships. In other countries where dogs are very popular such as Japan, England, and much of Europe, they keep dogs very differently than most people do here in the U.S. Typically, multi-generational families live under one roof so that dogs (and children) are rarely left alone. Even in this country we didn’t use to keep dogs like we do now. In the 1950’s and 60’s people didn’t have fenced backyards or apartments where they kept dogs in isolation all day while they were at work. Dogs often roamed suburban neighborhoods and interacted with other dogs. I’m pretty sure there were far fewer dog problems back then as well.
It comes down to one thing: Dogs are pack animals. It’s a fundamental part of what makes them dogs. I haven’t figured out a way to live in our society and at the same time live in a pack with dogs of my own. Until I do, and until I am willing to devote a good portion of my free time to providing a dog with adequate “pack time”, I’m not willing to force a dog, or myself, to live a life separated from the pack we love.