I like to window-shop online. I waste a lot of time looking at houses for sale, clothes I can’t afford, and dogs I should not adopt.
Most rescues would consider me their dream adopter. I work from home and usually break up my work day with a very long walk. I actually like dog training and enjoy spending my weekends wandering in the woods with my pup, Maybelle. In other words, on any given day I could probably go to just about any local rescue and adopt a dog within a few hours. And it’s really hard for me not to do exactly that.
Within three minutes of my house there is one rescue — which, thankfully, only has cats on the premises — and a large chain pet store, which regularly hosts adoption events. I have, on more than one occasion, gone to buy a bag of food on adoption day and had to fight my way through a crowd of adorable pups. I’ve even seen one of those doggy transport trucks dropping off pooches in the commuter lot near my house.
And then there is social media. I made the mistake of following a city shelter on Facebook. Most of the towns around me don’t have a big stray dog problem. I live in Connecticut, where people are generally very good about spaying and neutering. We have low-cost programs and mobile vets galore. And we have a lot of rescue organizations willing to step in and help when town pounds need help placing animals. But, like most places, our state’s urban centers tend to have bigger stray problems. The volume of dogs is much greater, and they have short adoption windows. So, every day, my Facebook feed is filled with “urgent” posts from the shelter.
It’s hard not give in, but I tell myself the same thing I used to when I volunteered for Canine Advocates of Newtown: “You can’t take them all home.”
The Internet is a dangerous place for people like me — especially Petfinder. I have spent hours of my life perusing the available dogs in my area. Maybe I could get a retired Greyhound and dress him up in cute coats. I could adopt a dog who likes to fetch, since Maybelle finds it to be beneath her. Maybe I could just get another cattle dog, which would then give me a good excuse to buy a farm and get some livestock. All of these are bad ideas.
When you have the time and love to give, it’s hard to come up with a good reason not to adopt another pet. Every time my friend’s dog comes to stay with me, and Maybelle spends the day playing in the yard instead of sleeping under my desk, I think it would be a great idea to find her a permanent playmate.
It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking having two dogs is just as easy as having one — and in many ways it can be, but not always. Sure they can entertain each other, but when you have more than one, other things become more complicated. Last winter, when I went to visit my best friend in Maine, I took Maybelle along. She happily played with my friend’s Border Collie, and we all went for a nice long hike along the icy coast. When I went on a cross-country road trip with my cousin (who happens to be my go-to dogsitter), I left Maybelle with friends who have a dog. If I had two dogs, I would have felt like I was imposing in either of those situations. And if I had to board two, I probably couldn’t afford to go anywhere.
If those logistical arguments aren’t enough to convince me that adopting another dog isn’t a good idea, I can always go look at my vacuum — or my couch, eternally covered in fur. I can sweep the tumbleweeds of cat hair out from under the table or grab the pooper scooper and head out into the backyard. But those kinds of petty concerns aren’t really enough to keep me from bringing another animal into the house.
It usually comes down to finances. I have two cats who are on an all-wet-food diet — which is expensive and strangely time-consuming. They both have had urinary tract problems, and they’re getting old. One of them had a bout with gallstones last summer, which cost me a pretty penny. Maybelle has been pretty healthy so far, but she still needs vaccinations, heartworm preventative, rare trips to daycare, and treats. (Not to mention I’d need to invest in a bigger couch!)
The simple fact is that adding another animal to the household right now would dramatically impact the care I’m able to give the ones I already have. If I had another mouth to feed, I would probably have to buy less expensive food. I’ve been thinking about taking Maybelle to a nearby farm to see if she has any aptitude for herding, but if I had to take a new dog to obedience classes, I would have to put that on the back burner.
But maybe, just maybe … I could be a decent foster parent for some poor dog? Quick, talk me out of it!
What keeps you from bringing another dog into your home? Tell us in the comments!
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About the Author: Theresa Cramer is a journalist and editor by trade, an NPR addict, and an avid gardener. She blogs at Writer on the Prowl, where you will find pictures of her garden, her pets, and musings about whatever is on her mind. She is working on a book about content marketing and how to make the transition from journalist to brand journalist.