Our household currently consists of two adults, one toddler, one dog, and two cats. Being involved in the dog community and with shelter animals, I’m often sent pictures of dogs needing homes or asked to take in another one. I recently worked an adoption event where I was extremely tempted to bring home a senior dog whose owner had died. Although many of these dogs pull on my heartstrings, we’re staying a one-dog household for the following five reasons.
Having a multi-pet household is hard work. Currently, we have one dog, Axle, and two cats, and they all get along fabulously. They’ve accepted my daughter into the fold, even tolerating bows in their hair and being “tucked” into bed. Bringing a new dog into the family would be asking my current pets to not only adjust to a new family member, but also to accept a reduction in the time and attention they receive. It would also mean temperament testing and increased vigilance when my daughter is around them, as if I could possibly be any more of a helicopter parent!
As for time, my husband and I both work outside of the home. We’ve been able to work our schedules so that the animals are never home too long by themselves, but a new dog would mean that even a short amount of time away would still be too much, at least in the beginning. If the dog was younger or had not been inside before, that would mean sacrificing my lunch break to drive home and take them outside to better facilitate house-training. Additional time for one-on-one training would also have to be set aside, which means time taken away from something or someone else in my life.
If I were to get another dog right now, she would be from a shelter. Although the adoption fee covers all of the necessities, there’s always the chance that a new dog will get sick, have a congenital condition that wasn’t immediately noticeable, or need dental work. All of these things can lead to some pretty hefty vet bills. That is just not something we are currently prepared to handle financially. I refuse to be one of those people who adopts a dog, particularly a sick one or a breed known to have health issues, knowing that I could not afford the vet care, and then having to rely on the compassion of others to donate to cover my vet bills. That’s taking advantage of a system that was put in place to help people in need cover unexpected costs for their dogs.
I also don’t wish to adopt another dog because there’s the very real possibility that we could become a multi-dog home overnight — and not just because of a shelter dog making puppy eyes at me! We have agreed to be a home for my Nana’s Chi-mix, one of my mother-in-law’s dogs, and a senior Labrador mix that we dog-sat for a while over the summer, in the event of those owners becoming ill or moving, or some other issue that might arise. Of course, none of these dogs are strangers to my household, so the adjustment wouldn’t be too much of an ordeal.
Most of the time, people get a dog because they want one. Sometimes, it’s to help fill a void in their life, whether that void was caused by the loss of another pet or the loss of a close friend or family member. For me, my life feels very full. I have work, family, a dog, two cats, volunteer work, and hobbies that I enjoy. I have no desire to add another dog to our home. Instead, I help shelter dogs in other ways, by writing about them, educating the public, donating money, and volunteering my time at adoption events when I can.
I think it’s important to recognize the responsibility that comes with having a dog, particularly in adding another one to a multi-person, multi-pet household. I find no shame in admitting that I have no time in my life right now for another dog, despite the grief some people give me for not taking in more dogs. And I’m pretty sure Axle is very content in staying the only dog!
Are you a one-dog owner? What are your reasons for not adding another dog to the family? Let us know in the comments!
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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.