Earlier this week the ScPA was contacted by a family who were about 48 hours into an adoption and were considering bringing their puppy back as they felt that they had made a huge mistake. They felt completely overwhelmed and unable to cope. As things turned out they calmed down and for the moment all seems to be well.
But it got us talking, and it turns out that just about everyone feels the same. It was a bit like a confession session; people whom I regard as perfect owners, completely unflappable and competent; even they had a post-adoption wobble, certainly when adopting their first dog. I know I did! And not just a first dog, each time a new dog is added to a pack, we worry if it is a good idea or whether we should just keep the status quo.
It is a perfectly normal reaction. Unless your dog is going to live in isolation in a garden and have no impact on your life other than to bark at the approach of guests (and, sadly, some dogs do live this way), then he or she is bound to change your life. And change is as exciting as it is frightening.
So what to do? Well step one, before you even adopt,is to read lots and talk to lots of people, preferably good, experienced dog owners. Then have a really long think. Anyone who tells you having a dog won’t change your life is lying. Consider the following:
Will you be happy taking the dog for walks in the pouring rain and to clear up muddy paw prints afterwards?
Are you willing to take your dog to education classes if necessary?
Are you prepared for vets bills. Not just annual vaccinations, but what happens if your dog falls ill?
Are you ready to get up early in the morning to let a dog out, especially during the first few days when house-training might be a problem, or longer if you are adopting a puppy?
Are you prepared for a few toilet related accidents as your dog gets used to his new routine?
Are you prepared for destructive behaviour and chewing?
Are you ready to find dog hair on your clothes, your furniture and even your food?
Are you prepared to have plants dug up and holes dug in your lawn?
Are you prepared to share your sofa (not obligatory, of course)
Have you thought about where your dog will spend his time if you are unable to take him out or away with you?
Are you prepared to sacrifice days and evenings out in order to keep your dog company?
Of course you may be lucky, and you would be very unlucky indeed if you were faced with even half of those issues. But forewarned is forearmed!
I am sure many of you realise that in terms of life-changing events, taking on a dog has a lot in common with having a baby. And it is rare for new parents not to have at least some doubts at first. Of course parents are not able to have second thoughts and take the baby back where they got it, they just have to get used to the “new normal”. For the most part everything works out fine. And that is usually the case with dogs, providing you can overcome your initial panic.
The good news is that you are not alone, and nor should you feel alone! The other good news is that, once the initial panic is over and you and your dog have settled down, a dog enhances your life enormously and the benefits to your physical and emotional health are incalculable.
Have you experienced any of the issues above? Why not share your tales of post-adoption panic with us. What happened and how did you overcome your issues? We will publish a selection at a future date!
Please bear in mind we would never discourage anyone from adopting, but unless you are prepared for at least some teething troubles, maybe dog ownership is not for you!