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What Sacrifices Have You Made to Adopt a Dog?

My husband said we could get another dog if I gave up vegetarianism, so I picked a plate of chicken wings clean.

Heather Marcoux  |  Nov 6th 2014


I’ve done a lot of things in my life to get pets. I spent years wearing down my husband and searching for pet-friendly apartments. I’ve begged, pleaded, and even slightly bent the rules of a rental agreement. I got a mortgage and bought a house with my pets (current and future) in mind.

Over the last 15 months, my husband and I have gone from having no pets to having three furry family members. The two adorable cats came first, and then in July we adopted GhostBuster the Lab mix.

This picture of GhostBuster and I was taken just after I signed the adoption papers.

This picture of GhostBuster and I was taken just after I signed the adoption papers.

Now, I feel like we’re ready for a second dog, and my husband is testing just how far I will go to make it happen.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he said. “You can get another dog if you start eating meat again.”

My husband thought his offer was so outrageous that I would never take him up on it, but he underestimated how far I will go to bring home another dog.

Two days after we shook on the deal, I added some chicken wings to our pizza delivery order and chomped down on four pieces of bird. A few days after that, I ordered prime rib at dinner.

“As rare as you do it,” I told the waitress.

This is as rare as they do it.

This is as rare as they do it.

My husband felt confident in making the meat deal because he knows how strongly I felt about not eating animals. After all, he was partially responsible for the vow of vegetarianism I took almost two years ago, long before we had animals of our own. We were standing in the kitchen of our tiny basement apartment in Saskatoon (where the upstairs landlords had pets but forbade us to have any), and my husband was holding his phone up in front of me, showing me a video about the dog meat trade.

When the short clip was over, tears were running down my face and splashing onto the cold linoleum. “I don’t think I can eat meat again after seeing that,” I told him.

I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how I could condemn the dog meat trade but continue to eat other intelligent animals.

My husband said he didn’t mind if I swapped our meat for legumes as it would shrink our grocery bill a bit, just as long as I didn’t complain if he ordered a steak when we went out to eat. He suffered through my veggie-based cooking for many months, and during that time we adopted our Ghost Cat, then Specter the Kitten, and finally, GhostBuster.

With three pets to fill my home and my heart, I thought I was done. Getting a second dog didn’t even occur to me during my first few months with GhostBuster, as we were were busy training him. GhostBuster amazes me every day. As his manners have improved, I’ve started to wonder if we don’t have room in our household for another adoptee.

GhostBuster loves chilling with other doggies.

GhostBuster loves chilling with other doggies.

GhostBuster absolutely loves playing with other dogs, especially youngsters like himself (he’s only two). He will frolic with doggy playmates until he’s all tuckered out, and then he’ll rally and play some more. I would be lying if I said that his love of other dogs wasn’t a factor in my wanting to adopt again.

Before the meat deal was on the table, my husband tried to convince me that GhostBuster already had an in-house animal playmate in our kitty, Ghost Cat.

GhostBuster and Ghost Cat are pals.

GhostBuster and Ghost Cat are pals.

While it’s true that Ghost Cat and GhostBuster do love each other and play together often, it’s not the same kind of all-out puppy play that GhostBuster engages in with other dogs. He really enjoys the company of other pups (especially smaller ones), and when I look around at all of the bonded pairs in my extended family, I do wonder if he is missing out.

My parents have two old girls, Rags and Pagan, who’ve been together for 13 years, and my sister’s Bichon/Shih Tzu pair have been married for a decade. My brother has a couple of Miniature Schnauzer litter mates who are never without each other. All of these dynamic duos are happier together than apart.

Despite the fact that my parents have two dogs and a cat, they don’t think that my husband and I should add another dog to our household. My mom and dad were at our house the night I picked those chicken wings clean, and they were sure to play devil’s advocate.

“But you already have two cats!” my mom said.

“It’s a lot easier to find someone to watch one dog than two dogs,” my dad said. “It gets expensive.”

Two of my three fur babies.

Two of my three fur babies.

Twice the vet bills and more than twice the work — that’s what my family members tell me when I talk about bringing another dog home, but I still think that we could, and should, do it.

Once upon a time, my darling GhostBuster was sitting in a shelter kennel waiting for a forever home, but as I type this he is curled up on our couch with my husband and Ghost Cat. If I have room in my life and my heart for one more dog, how can I deny that?

I called my husband’s bluff on the meat deal because I feel more ethically obliged to adopt another dog than I do to avoid meat. I also know that although my husband says I have to eat meat for the lifetime of the second dog, he really can’t enforce that part of the deal. I could stop eating meat again as soon as my second dog is in my arms (and I just might).

How far have you gone to get a pet? Let us know in the comments.

Read more about getting a second dog on Dogster:

About the author:  Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feeds because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +.