Tell me to buck up or stop whinging, or whatever, but I worry about my dog being alone all day. I have played around with different ideas to solve this, and I never come to a solid conclusion. Help?
Long, whiney preamble:
I recently moved to a new town, and it's just me and my pug Ellie
in an apartment. She was originally my sister's dog and my sister trained her to use a pad to do her business instead of going outside, so Ellie's kind of a catdog. Eventually my sister decided that the Ellie liked me better and that she and her family travelled too much to have a dog. Though I had only had cats previously, I gladly adopted Ellie. She is a snuggler and we sleep together every night, she deeply burrowed under the covers. She does get short walks outside, once in the morning and once at night, but otherwise is an indoor dog.
The thing is, I work all day, and therefore she is left alone for 9 - 10 hours. When I get home, I am not really up for a big play session, even though I know she would probably appreciate the stimulation and attention. She has some toys that she like to chew on and squeak, but we don't have an easy routine of back and forth play, and I get distracted by whatever else I'm doing (reading a book, watching TV, making dinner,etc.) She sometimes expresses frustration as a result. When excited or stressed she maniacally licks everything - the couch, the floorboards, her own butt, you get the idea. I then get a major case of the guilts, because I know she needs, nay deserves attention, but I just don't always have the energy to engage with her. My guilt is compounded when I want to run an errand after work, or worse, go to a social engagement. When either happens, Ellie could be home alone for as much as 14-15 hours. When I had a cat, this didn't seem to be a big deal because...cat. Any cat I had didn't seem to require a whole lot of interaction. As long as the litter box was clean and had food and water, life was good. I guess you could say having a cat has trained me to be a bad dog owner. :(
But while Ellie hasn't done anything to really act out her frustration other than the licking thing, I still don't like to think of her being unhappy and alone for that length of time. Yes, I know I may be projecting a bit here! :)
In the last place I lived, I tried taking her to doggy day care once a week or so, until the day I was taking her inside and she broke free of her leash and ran in the opposite direction. I finally figured out that she really hated it and didn't like the noise and confusion. She wanted stimulation but not THAT much stimulation. (Yes, I may be projecting again, shut up.) I ultimately hired a dog walker who came once a week with her little dog. So Ellie had a nice visit with another dog and got to go outside for a walk. But I could only really afford to do this one day a week, and I was never sure if that made up for the other days. I suspect it did not.
Now I'm in this new town, and I could do some research and find another dog walker, but still likely only be able to afford it once a week. Or, as I am allowed up to two pets in my apartment I could adopt a cat or perhaps get a rescue dog. Of course, another pet would mean more expense for me as far as food, vet bills, grooming and occasional boarding. It would also mean more hassle as far either a) cleaning a litter box again (not one of my favortie parts of cat ownership) or b) figuring out how to train a dog to use a pad like Ellie does (I am dubious that I would be able to do this). The idea of a cat is more appealing to me than a dog because I have had cats before and they figure out the litter box on their own, whereas I have no idea how to train a dog, and being new at my job, don't have the luxury to take several days off to devote to training a puppy to use a pad. Another idea I have floated is contacting a rescue organization and fostoring another pug. That would mean less commitment on my part, and be a trial run for observing how Ellie reacts to a room mate. Because really, I don't KNOW that adding another animal is going to make her happier, I'm just wildly casting about. I think deep down what would really make her happy is if another human was with her all day. She has always liked humans more than other animals. But being new in town, and being a pretty shy person means I haven't made the kind of connections with people yet that would help me find someone who I could trust to leave my dog with, or possibly come into my place and spend time with my dog.
I am asking you, MeFites, to filter my meta: thoughts, opinions, experiences, ideas, anecdotes?
1. Dog walker once a week
2. Adopt a cat
3. Adopt a dog
4. Foster a dog
5. Status quo
6. Some other option