What would a dog actually mean for me?
October 21, 2010 2:31 PM   Subscribe

How much work is a dog?

A big 'doggy' dog, like a lab or golden retriever?

My partner deeply wants one; it's a real quality of life issue for him that he doesn't have one. I want to make this work if at all possible, but I have serious concerns about it.

You can help by giving me some info about how much work a dog actually is. (Factors: we live in a small house with a backyard; we don't have indoor spaces where a dog could get exercise; and we live in a climate that gets very cold and snowy in winter.)

I would be doing most -- often all -- of the daytime dog care, c. 7a-7p (especially during the months when my partner's traveling extensively for work) along with caring for our baby, which is already something I'm doing a lot of hard work on in terms of career/life balance. A big issue is that, on the two days a week when the baby's in daycare, my time would no longer be 100% my own, which really affects me because my work needs long blocks of focus. I don't know if a dog can (or should) go long blocks with no attention. In the winter, the dog would have 12+ hour days with no walks, I assume using the backyard instead (since the cold would be unsafe for walking with baby).

Also please talk to me about how a dog would feel if the person generally home with it does not have a physical/playful or 'doggy' relationship with it. I have no experience with and no orientation toward dogs. (When my partner asked, while we were dating, I said I'm okay with dogs that are calm and that don't jump up on you and slobber all over you, which is true. I didn't understand until later that 'calm' is really not a flavor of dog that will make him feel like he has a dog.)
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (65 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm okay with dogs that are calm and that don't jump up on you and slobber all over you.

Then you should forget about getting a golden retriever right away. They will force you to have "a physical/playful or 'doggy' relationship" with them, whether you want it or not.
posted by halogen at 2:34 PM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

Um... if it's a quality of life issue, did he ever bring it up before? (Aside from "do you like dogs," which you imply he said while dating.)

Sounds like it's a huge quality of life issue for YOU, which is probably why you've anonymized this. And you'll probably be around longer than the dog is, and require more specialized interaction to boot. Which you should.

From your perspective here, it sounds like this is really not a good decision for your family at this point in your life. It's like planning weddings: the one who wants the big one gets to take care of it.
posted by Madamina at 2:38 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Would adopting an older dog be an option? A 4 or 5 year old dog with an even temper (especially considering you have a newborn) could be a fit for you all if you all are willing to accept that you won't have them for as long.

Also: is there a doggie day-care in your town that you could take a dog to a couple of times a week? Or a reliable dog-walking service? If you can afford it, most medium or large cities have some options that can help out someone in your (potential) situation.
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:42 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you get a dog, don't let your partner (or anyone) talk you into getting a puppy. They are a LOT of work, and they will jump on you, and bite you, and lick you, and cry for attention, and bark, and pee on the floor.

I think that if you got an older dog (3 -4 years or more) from a shelter, who was already housetrained and well past the puppy stage, and who you could "interview" to see if his/her personality meshed with yours, you could have a dog. Especially if you are careful to research breeds that are okay being couch potatoes. My instinct and experience is that you could definitely find a dog who was happy to sleep quietly on the floor near your desk/work station, perhaps chewing on a bone now and then.

Once the baby is older, and you are POSTIVE the dog is child-friendly, they can probably play together (in the same room as you) and keep each other somewhat occupied.

I also don't think it would be particularly hard to train a smart, older dog the difference between "work time" and "play time" and that "play time" occurs when your husband is home and wants to run around and roughhouse. Also, as long as the dog is getting some exercize during the day, it shouldn't matter when that occurs. If your husband can commit to taking the dog on a 30 minute walk when he gets home every evening, the dog should be fine, ESPECIALLY if he gets to go run around in the backyard a little during the day. If it is very cold, though, the dog may not want to just play outside. Again, it would depend on the individual dog.

Last point - if you already feel stretched to the limit, I would wait to get a dog until that eases up. You should be able to wait until the child is a year or two old, and can be outside for walks, and doesn't need to be held every second, and so on.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 2:43 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

I have a house similar to yours with a backyard. My Lab is a ton of (worthwhile for me) work. At least 30 minutes walking every day. Often off-leash time.

During the first year it was almost impossible to find uninterrupted time to work (I was home all summer when I first got the dog, working my own hours) with the dog. I personally liked the required breaks every hour or two to take the dog out, walk the dog, play with the dog. But if you need hours upon hours of uninterrupted time, a Lab puppy isn't going to help with that.

At age 3, my dog can now go 12+ hours without a walk without turning into a crazed animal. But she really needs off-least running time a few times a week to "take the edge off".

If a dog is this important to your partner, it seems like he/she should be taking more of a role in the care of the animal.
posted by jz at 2:43 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

It depends on the breed. Some dogs, like border collies, require TONS of exercise and attention, or they could get bored and trash your house. Regardless, the dog will need to be walked twice a day for at least a half hour; fed once or twice a day; played with for preferably 1/2 hour a day; and, as a puppy, require tons of formalized training, either in a class or at home. Good luck.
posted by Melismata at 2:43 PM on October 21, 2010

You could get a sled dog type, like a malamute or a husky; they like cold weather, and they're fairly "cat-like" in that they're generally more calm and less slobbery (they still like people, but in my experience they'll follow you from room to room and lie down nearby, but not necessarily want to be all up in your lap constantly or whatever). But if your partner is gone for 12-hour days, the dog will still be really excited to see him (my parents' malamute still flips out when my dad comes home from work).

As a bonus, they're often great with kids (my big grumpy dog growing up loved little kids and would just stand their peacefully while they climbed all over her, yanking her ears and her tail).

It'd still be a lot of work, though, and your husband would have to walk the dog twice a day (first thing in the morning and in the evening), and I'm not talking "a walk to the end of the driveway," either.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:45 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

We have a Golden Retriever and a baby. The baby is more work, but there are some days where it feels like they are both a handful.

In my opinion, the decision on whether to get a dog at this stage of your life should be equivalent to the question of whether to have another child. Seriously. Dogs require attention, particularly the breeds that you mention. They also require exercise, potty breaks outside and grooming (again, heavy on the Golden Retriever). Heaven help you if you get a barker, especially when the baby is asleep. Having a dog and a baby is like having two babies, one of whom is big, hairy, and has a loud voice with no control over the volume. And they stay this way for years.

If your partner was going to be around more, it might make things easier, especially since it sounds like your partner is the one who desperately wants a dog. But, if you are the person who is essentially stuck with the dog's care for the most part, you may resent your partner and the dog. That's not fair to anyone.

I was the one who wanted to get the dog and I love him very much. But, it's been hard having the dog and the baby at the same time. If I had to do it over again, I would have waited until the baby was older. Still, when the baby reaches out to pet the dog or laughs hysterically when the dog flaps his tail in the baby's face, I love that he gets that interaction at that age.
posted by Leezie at 2:46 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I want to second the idea of getting an adult dog. You can definitely find a dog that is active and fun and gets excited to take walks and play, but that is not all jumpy and nuts and Go! Go! Go! all the time. It's not that rare a combination, but as pointed out above, it absolutely does not exist in puppies.

I can empathize with your situation. I really want to get a big crazy "doggy" dog some day, but my wife is absolutely not cool with being knocked over or jumped on. This basically means no labs, no goldens, and definitely no puppies of any kind. Fortunately, the world is full of assholes who have abandoned good, loveable adult dogs of whom you would have your pick at the pound.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:47 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You may want to consider a rescue greyhound. In general (dogs are as individual as people) they are very courteous dogs, and couch potatoes. And they are certainly real dogs.

All dogs need to go out to relieve themselves, and walks are good for them and good for you. They need not be endless walks . . . 30 minutes or so works for most dogs. And yes, dogs need attention, of course, but it need not be huge blocks of time. Dogs do sleep a lot. But play and love and walks are important for them too. Also, dogs need training, particularly to make sure that they have good manners.

I think you'll need to really like this dog, and if you do, you aren't going to feel put upon. If you don't have an emotional connection, everything dogs need (love, training, exercise, medical care) will seem too much. So you need to be very involved in looking at potential dogs.
posted by bearwife at 2:48 PM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

The thing about labs and goldens is that they need LOTS of exercise for at least five years. You know all those stories about dogs eating the house? Those are usually about bored dogs with too much excess energy.

Needless to say, not exercising them in the winter would be terrible for you and the dog. We don't have kids and can afford to have our 1.5 year old lab to daycare 3 days a week. He's tired when he gets home and for about half the next day, but then he is bored and needs a nontrivial amount of attention.

In all honesty, it does not sound like you are in a position to take care of a dog like that especially because you don't want one. If your husband is really suffering that much, I think the only reasonable to make it work would be that it is his sole responsibility to make sure the dog's needs are being met including when he is working. (that's not exactly cheap or practical though).
posted by Kimberly at 2:49 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing that a lab is probably a bad choice. Something like a fat little bulldog would be mostly content to lay around all day while you work.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:55 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's 7 PM. You've been working and mommying all day. Your partner gets home, and has some energy left. He could a) play with his golden retriever, or b) do something that's gone undone for several weeks because you haven't had the time or energy to address it.

How will you feel about him playing with the golden retriever?
posted by amtho at 2:56 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think dogs are dogs, you buy them, care for them train them to sit and stay, play with them at your leisure. They become just part of the family, how much work is your partner?

Having said that, depending on the breed, some are very high maintenance, herding breeds, or hunting dogs etc, require a couple of years of careful attentive training to be calm members of your family.

Health issues can't be ignored, as well, we have a giant breed dog who has a degenerative nerve disorder that requires constant assistance on our part when we are home. When we are at work, all we can do is make sure he is in his comfy spot before we leave (plus we spent 10k plus diagnosing the problem!)

As a man, it sounds like your partner "just wants a dog" ya know, one that is "around the house."

It's how most of us males treat dogs (they're just dogs) we slowly acclimate them to our environs without much concern or thought. Ignoring dogs is like a talent most men have, so a whining pup chewing on something doesn't even register on our radars.

Labs are very demanding pooches in their younger years, you will be training it, for larger dogs your child's safety is also a concern.

You don't want a dog.
posted by Max Power at 2:57 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

My wife is currently pregnant with our first child, so we will find out first hand shortly if we agree with this or not. I have had several people who are wonderful parents and not afraid of work say in all seriousness that if you factor out the lack of sleep, a puppy requires much more work than a baby especially in the first few months. I can say without a doubt that my Golden took a lot of work, and I wanted her more than anything else in the world. If you are not 100% on board with the idea of a dog, do yourself and the dog a favor, pass for now.

Once Sage got to be a few months older, she didn't get into trouble around the house like she did as a puppy, but she still required a lot of exercise and attention. She always will. That is the way dogs are. As far as exercise, I rarely put her on the lead and walk her. We play fetch in the back yard for 15-30 minutes and that is more than enough.
posted by Silvertree at 3:00 PM on October 21, 2010

Getting a dog is a huge commitment, don't think otherwise.

And, the person who will be the primary caregiver should be the one making the decision.

My Husky is two years old, she changed my life in a lot of ways, I love her to death, but I had no clue as to what it takes to be a good four-footer parent.

For example.. I've gone fishing exactly once since I got the pup, 'cuz dogs aren't allowed at the club where I keep the boat. I used to fish two or three times a week. I stopped riding the Harley to work, 'cuz pup goes to work with me, and I can't find a helmet to fit. I've given up keeping the car clean, ain't gonna happen. I've purchased a new vacuum cleaner, and, during shedding season vacuum twice a day. I no longer eat anyplace but at the table...just doesn't work. The kids can't sit on the floor to watch football, dawg is all over them the minute their butt hits the ground. Dropped something, dawg will get it for you, then make you chase her, pay her off, or will eat it (she's pooped or barfed up about 6 cat toys in the past two years, the cats are trying to kill her!).

I only have 1/2 the space in bed that I used to have.... (yeah, I know this is my fault).

I spend an hour each day walking her, I spend two hours a day letting her into and out of the house, an hour a week cleaning up the year, an hour a week filling food and water bowels, an hour a week looking up dog behavior solutions on the interwebs. Training was eight weeks of courses, and she needs more. I still spend a couple of hours retraining her (Huskies can't remember crap about stuff YOU want them to do).

Cost... let's see. $1,200 for the invisible fence, $400 to get her spayed, probably $600 more in vet bills for regular stuff during the past two years. About $150 per month for kennel care on those days she can't go to work with me (never leave a Husky by herself...bad bad dogs!), flea and heartworm meds are $25 per month, food about $50 to $60 per month. Toys are $25 per month or so (along with treats).

My wife's dad can't come to the house any longer because his significant other is phobic about dogs.

Concerts are almost a thing of the past 'cuz it means overnights at the kennel and we hate doing that to her!

Me and the dog fight for the big, comfy chair..and she's faster than I am.

I spent 6 months with accidental pokey puppy teeth lacerations on my arms and hands, those buggers are sharp!

All that said, I love this dog! She's with me 24 hours a day, she comforts me, amuses me, makes me smile, pisses me off, manipulates me, and keeps me warm. I would be heartbroken if something happened to her, and I fear terribly the fact that I will outlive her, even at my age, I'm not sure how I'll handle that.

tl;dr answer...they are a lot of work but the return is enormous, just make sure that YOU want the dog 'cuz it sounds like you're the primary dog parent in your situation.
posted by HuronBob at 3:01 PM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]

I do not regret having a dog, not at all. Lacey is the Mother Teresa of all dogs. She is wonderful.

But this AskMe of mine should give you a little window on dog ownership. It is not as big a decision as whether or not to have a kid, but it approaches that, IMO.

My present dog is also the last dog I will ever have.
posted by Danf at 3:02 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

People will tell you a lot here about the work requirements for different breeds, which will be useful, so I'm going to say something else.

Within a breed, each individual dog has a different personality/needs and they can really vary. With an older dog, you know exactly what you're getting. So, I think it would be a REALLY good idea for you to foster a dog from a local animal shelter or rescue.

You won't have to commit to the dog whatsoever. You'll have the chance to try living with several different dogs and seeing if what they require is what you can handle. And it's easier to get over the "oh man this is more work than my normal routine I can't do this" hump when you know the dog is only there temporarily.

And you might get surprised. Right now I'm fostering a dog of a breed I had no experience with/interest in. I was kind of in the market for a second dog but would have never picked this one. I have found that this dog is *perfect* for me and fits my whole random wishlist of things I didn't even expect to get all at once. And I never would have picked her on my own.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:02 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

And ... if you do go for fostering, you might consider two dogs at once. I have found that dogs require a lot less attention/playtime from you when they have another dog around, and they're just happier in general. If you don't have the space for two big dogs, you could try a big one and a medium one or a big one and a small one. I have found personally that two dogs are not twice the work, they're more like 1.2 times the work. They are twice the food and vet bills, though.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:12 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

So he wants a dog that you are going to be caring for because he travels for work so much? I'm sorry but that's not very cool in my book. You're already carrying a pretty heavy load with a baby and adding a dog for the little time he is home seems awfully selfish.

Maybe he should look into renting a dog every so often.

I love having my dog (most of the time), she's a wonderful companion, a great trail dog and easily the best alarm system I could afford. But I wouldn't have even thought about getting her if I traveled for work all the time. And my wife is a dog person.

Having the dog would mean a whole host of additional work for you. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want another dependent to take care of.
posted by fenriq at 3:17 PM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]

In terms of the winter walking, do you have neighborhood kids who want to make a little money doing the evening walk a few nights a week? A lot of kids without dogs want dog time, and many parents are glad for their kids to learn responsibility and earn some money WHILE getting physical exercise. If an ten-year-old could run off the dog's energy in the evening for half an hour, that would probably go a long way towards dealing with the exercise issue when your husband is traveling.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:25 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

So he wants a dog that you are going to be caring for because he travels for work so much? I'm sorry but that's not very cool in my book. You're already carrying a pretty heavy load with a baby and adding a dog for the little time he is home seems awfully selfish.

Yeah, this is super weird to me. He wants a dog that he would see on the weekends? Then he should volunteer at the shelter.

I love dogs, and all animals, and I think kids should grow up with them whenever possible. But I don't think it is right that a partner insist on a dog when they will not be able to do at least half the work. That's like saying they would like a vegetable garden for you to take care of, only it's a dog that needs much more consistent love and attention and playtime. It seems pretty darn unfair to you and the dog, to be honest.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:26 PM on October 21, 2010 [13 favorites]

As a mommy and a doggy owner (of a big lab), I would not recommend getting a dog.

And that goes especially because your baby is at home with you and your partner seems to work pretty extensive hours.

Being home with a baby is hard enough without having to take care of a dog.

Additionally, my dog is excellent with children, well-behaved, and old. (On the downside, he has a ton of medical problems.) I cannot imagine training a new dog (with unexpected behaviors) with a baby around.
posted by k8t at 3:32 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dogs are a ton of work. I didn't realize how much work my dog, Moxie, would be, and she's a beagle mix who's pretty low maintenance. I walk or exercise her in the yard for about an hour, total, every day, and this doesn't mean that I just let her out into the yard to run. She often doesn't run around unless I am running or playing with her. If she doesn't get this exercise time, she starts to bark and chase the cats. I also take her out two to three times in addition to this to pee. Once a week, I brush her and clip her nails. This week, due to some medical concerns, I am coaxing extra water into her three times a day as well as giving her vitamins twice a day. And I've had her for four months, and I've already had to take her to the vet three times for various issues, as well as collecting urine samples for testing, which is about as unpleasant as it sounds.

Don't get me wrong, I love my dog dearly. She is my constant companion, and I wouldn't give her up for anything. But I really, really, really wanted this dog, and I still have days where I find it hard to give her everything that she needs - but I do it anyway, because she's my dog and she's my responsibility. I can't imagine how hard it would be if I hadn't really wanted her in the first place.

And I agree with the above posters that it doesn't seem quite fair that your husband is the one who wants the dog, and yet you're the one who would have to do all the work to take care of it. The only way I can think that this might work is if you got a really low energy dog and your husband took it on a super long walk in the morning. That might exhaust it enough that you'd only have to take it out for bathroom breaks during the day, and he could exercise it again when he got home in the evenings. Then again, you'd have to do all the exercising when he was gone on trips, so I'm not sure that would really work, either.
posted by rosethorn at 3:33 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

When I was a baby my parents had a black lab, who was very energetic and loved to chew on things, and my parents ended up giving him away to another home because they just couldn't do the training etc with a toddler in the house. So - you need a dog that is not super-energetic by nature, because it requires work to drain off that energy, and if you don't do the work the dog will find ways of entertaining itself by wrecking your house, chewing baby's toys, etc.

Even if you get a dog with a mellow nature, training a dog is a constant project -- even once you've done the initial training, you have to continually be maintaining the good habits. So a dog is never a "set it and forget it" proposition. For dog people the constant reinforcement becomes second nature and it's not an imposition. You could become a dog person, you never know. But the well-behaved dogs I know are well-behaved because their owners are continually, every day, rewarding good behavior and heading off bad behavior.

Another thing to think about -- a friend of mine recently said having a dog is more limiting than having a kid, because at least it's relatively easy to bring the kid with you when you travel - transportation, hotels, relatives' houses, none of them is going to forbid you to bring your baby, but they can forbid you to bring the dog. So vacations, etc become more of a headache to plan.

A couple of dogs I know that are great with toddlers: a mellow older labradoodle, an older bernese mountain dog.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:37 PM on October 21, 2010

There have been a crazy number of 'Mum fixing dinner, toddler and dog resting happily nearby; Mum drains pasta, toddler screaming, big bite on cheek' incidents among the little online-parent-chat group I am a member of. I have no idea what the statistics are for this sort of incident, but it is never a happy occurrence. The usual recommendation that small children and pets always be separated or supervised does not seem to be realistic in the average household, and these anecdata bites I'm blithering about happen with supposedly well-trained family dogs and attentive parents.

Personally, I would take the idea totally off the table until the kid is pushing school age, if not older. Speaking as somebody with a toddler and two cats. Cats are easy-peasy compared to dogs, and the cats are still not getting the attention they need, and sometimes that shows. The suggestion to be as cautious with this as you would with a second child is a good one; are you up to cleaning two puddles of puke? Etc.

*1 fenriq's comments on your partner needing more time to take care of a dog if he is the one who wants a dog and you are already feeling burdened with child care.

I think my feelings towards dogs are perhaps not dissimilar to yours, and I would not consider it for now, but file it under "wonderful idea for retirement or empty-nesting."

Please don't keep yourself housebound just because you have a baby, says this rural Canadian. Buy a baby carrier and a baby wool balaclava. The kid gets balaclava'ed, goes into the sling, and you zip up your coat over both of you until there's just a head peeking out, and hit the trail.
posted by kmennie at 3:37 PM on October 21, 2010

To add, my dog's on his last legs and my son is 2. I'd imagine that my dog won't last more than another year.

I do not plan on getting another dog for YEARS.

Also, my 2-year-old is extremely jealous of the time that I spend doing things for the dog. I NEVER say "Hold on, I need to take the dog to pee/eat" because he takes it out on the dog by hitting. 80% of the time toddler loves dog. The rest of the time, it is a struggle.
posted by k8t at 4:09 PM on October 21, 2010

Look into some other breeds. Corgis, cocker spaniels, schipperkes--Medium size dogs that are up for some action but are happy enough to follow you around the house all day.

Labs and Goldens are a ton of work and high maintenance attention wise.

I have a Pug who is absolutely convinced she is a Big Dog and is up for anything.
posted by AuntieRuth at 4:11 PM on October 21, 2010

Dogs are a lot of work and like kids, it's kind of better if you go into it wanting them. I think if this is a really big thing for your partner, he may need to consider a line of work where he does not travel so much.

That's a quality of life issue that he needs to at least halfway meet you in order to resolve -- it sounds like you'd be doing the bulk of the work although he does the bulk of the wanting.

You're obligated to fulfill quality of life needs for your partner only if they are making them a priority as well -- it doesn't sound like he is there yet, for such a big responsibility to be added to the mix.

That said, I'm a crazy dog person and had a dog before we had a baby. Both are a ton of work, both have lots of needs. I had to carry her as an infant out into the snow to hike in the woods behind our yard with our dog. New England level snow. Trudge trudge trudge. Every day.

I did that because I love my dog (I'm also hippydippy and think it's great for kids to be outside) and have that motivation of believing that she's important, believing it's good for me to be forced to do it, believing it's okay for babies to be outside in winter.

If you don't have that energy behind it I can't imagine anything but either you cooking up a ton of resentment toward your husband or a really fat dog or both.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:11 PM on October 21, 2010

please talk to me about how a dog would feel if the person generally home with it does not have a physical/playful or 'doggy' relationship with it.

That's a genuinely sweet thing to ask, by the way.

Lonely, I think. Pretty much how we'd feel if we were hanging out with someone who Just Wasn't That Into us.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:16 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I lovelovelove dogs and because of that, I don't want people who don't want dogs to be forced to live with them. I'm here to talk to you about how much work a doggy dog like a lab or golden retriever actually is. Let's say this retriever is a year old--a teenager, if you will. Your day might look like this:

6:00 am - The baby wakes up cooing or crying. The dog, because he's bred to respond to people, or because he hates feeling left out, or for whatever reason, cries to be let out of his crate or room, or he scratches at the baby's door, whining. It's ok. It's the family's waking time, anyway.

6:05 am - Dog must go outside to pee. He might grab a toy on the way, since he's been bred to carry things in his mouth. It might be a baby toy or pacifier that he grabs to take in the yard with him while he pees.

6:10 am - Dog wants to be fed. Are you changing the baby's diaper? Well, the dog's hungry, so he's coming to where you are to tell you just that. And he's now in the baby's room with you. A year-old lab eats things he shouldn't. Do you have a diaper genie?

6:15 am - You feed the dog. And he's still hungry, because he's a retriever. And in another 5 minutes, he's going to be bored, too.

6:30 am - The dog is licking the baby's hands and face during breakfast. The baby loves it. How do you feel?

6:45 am - You're washing dishes. The dog is licking them as you're putting them into the dishwasher. Then he drinks water from his bowl and walks back across the kitchen to you, dripping water all along the way.

7:00 am - You're on the floor, reading to the baby. The dog is alternately squeaking one his toys right in your face, wanting to play, and chewing on one of baby's books.

7:10 am - You realize the baby needs a diaper change. At the same time, the dog farts. You have to let the dog out into the yard so he can poop.

7:15 am - You're changing the baby's diaper. You simultaneously hear the dog barking nonstop out in the yard. You have no idea if he's barking at a squirrel, at a neighbor walking on the sidewalk, at a cat who's walked into the yard, or what.

7:20 am - You let the dog back into the house, and he's been energized by the cold fall air. He wants to play! He picks up a succession of toys and brings them to you, shoving them in your hands or face. He might paw your legs. Are you holding the baby? Are you trying to work? You need to either play with him or divert his attention. Will you give him a game of tug to help him burn off his energy, a treat to pacify him (for a moment), or put him back in the yard so you can have a few minutes to yourself and get the baby into his glider so you can take a shower?

7:30 am - You chose option c, the yard. You let him in after 10 minutes because he's been barking again, and your house is slightly too close to the neighbors to let him bark incessantly. Time to let him back in. But he's still completely energized by the cold air, and still needs to play.

Ok, I didn't even get through a whole day. That's only 90 minutes with an adolescent retriever. You'd have blocks of a few hours when the dog is napping, but to "earn" that, you'd have to tire him out mentally and/or physically first.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:17 PM on October 21, 2010 [19 favorites]

Please don't adopt a dog until your husband is in a position to be more involved with it. It sounds like you already have a full plate and you, THE PERSON WHO WOULD BE DOING ALL OF THE WORK, don't actually want a dog!

I love dogs, so so so so much, and I love my dog even more. That said, my partner just went out of town for the first time since we got her, and it was pretty stressful to be solely responsible for her. I can imagine if I didn't absolutely adore this creature, that stress would come along with a whole lot of resentment both for the animal and the person who insisted I take care of her. Possibly related: We've had the dog about 3 months now, and my psychiatrist just asked me if I thought I was experiencing something resembling post-partum depression.

People who run rescue groups and shelters would 100x rather you wait until your family is ready for a dog than adopt one into the wrong situation and have to return it. Its horrible for the people who work at the shelter, its horrible for the dog, and it would be horrible for your family.

If you guys are dead-set on trying this idea, find a dog-owning friend who has to go out of town and doggy-sit for a week or so. It will become clear to you pretty quickly whether you can handle a dog or not.
posted by juliapangolin at 4:22 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, a dog is not a good plan right now. Really, really, really.

The person who has to be on board is the person providing most of the care, and if you're stretched already, and you're not necessarily a 'dog person' or ready to become one, it's not a good plan. This is a recipe for resentment, untrained/unstructured dogs, tired/frustrated/frazzled humans, arguments in the vet's office, and extends up to surrendering animals.

I'll grant that there are many times when it somehow all works out, but the times when it doesn't...it sucks so badly for all beings involved that I recommend only adding pets to the mix when things are stable and managing daily life isn't stretching someone.

Did your husband have a dog as a child? Because he doesn't seem to have had one as an adult--i.e., where he was the primary caregiver for the animal--as he'd be more able to spot the problems with the breeds he prefers and the work/life situation he currently has. The difference between 'owning' a dog as a child, where your parents are primarily in charge of caring for it, and owning a dog as an adult and relatively new parent is a significantly different state of affairs. What I'm seeing is a situation where your husband 'remembers' what it was like to have a dog, but not what that actually entails. I'm more than willing to admit that I'm projecting here, but that's because it's such a common scenario.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 4:33 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

Please don't adopt a dog until your husband is in a position to be more involved with it. It sounds like you already have a full plate and you, THE PERSON WHO WOULD BE DOING ALL OF THE WORK, don't actually want a dog!


i mean, it's pretty bullsh of your husband to insist that a dog is a quality of life issue for him when you're the one who will providing the bulk of the care for the dog. i have a dog; a weimaraner which is an especially active breed. he is work (altho, IMHO, completely worth it). but then i live alone, work from home, and have no children so i can devote a lot of my time/life to him. if it's so important to your husband, then you need to tell him he'd better re-arrange his life to accommodate caring for the dog bc it's unfair for you to do all the work while he reaps all the benefits.
posted by violetk at 4:39 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

also, you don't want to be in the position of getting the dog, resenting its care, and then having to give up the dog. that would suck.
posted by violetk at 4:40 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love animals with a passion. I have 2 small dogs. I had 3 cats, as well, but they all passed (from serious, heartbreaking illnesses when they were well into their "teens").

When we got our first pup, almost 13 years ago, he was so lonely while we were at work that we got another pup, same breed, to keep him company. They are great companions for each other and wonderful pets.

Here's the thing....the illness, then loss of my 3 cats, one year apart from each other, was agonizing.

My dogs have back problems, which is characteristic of their breed.

The expense has been/is enormous.

We bought pet insurance from the start, which I highly recommend. It has paid for itself (for all 5 pets) 10 times over.

Recently, one of our pups had a 5 day stay at the emergency veterinary hospital in our area. Excellent care, don't regret it for a moment, would do it again in a heartbeat, if necessary. He's on the mend and is on a strict regime of 9 meds a day (which he resists) and a special diet. The cost of his hospital stay and several follow up visits so far have been: $4,000.00, $300.00, $200.00, and $75.00. It's not over yet. I'm hoping to recover at least 1/2 from the insurance company but I do not know what to expect yet.

Between the loss, the sorrow and the expense, I don't think I could do this again when these 2 pass.

Owning a pet is a lifelong commitment, like parenthood. I would take that into serious consideration when making your decision.


posted by htm at 4:50 PM on October 21, 2010

Didn't read the other responses, sorry. But I have a golden/lab mix and a lab/border collie mix. It can be a drag sometimes, and I love the bastards. Things get peed on, chewed up, puked on, pooped on. There are scratches And these are well-trained dogs that people describe as "awesome."

They need attention. Like, it's strange but they really do require physical human interaction. Usually this involves one good walk (anywhere from 0.7 to 1.4 miles, based on the Google Maps measuring I did of our favorite routes) once a day. And have to be let out. And fed. And lots of times they sleep all day (I work from home mostly) but there are times when, both of them, follow me from room to room. I say , "God DAMMIT, guys!" a lot.

And, remember, I love these guys.

They currently smell bad. They were in a kennel for three days. The kennel lady bathed them before I picked them up, but they still smell like poop and dirty dog and they need another bath, which means I have to take them to Petsmart because I am not going to lean over my tub and wrench my sensitive snowflake back and get water all over the nice bathroom with the tub in it while wrestling them to stay in the tub long enough to rinse them.

I constantly have to monitor the door and back yard situation. I'm constantly moving shoes and TV remotes out of the chew zone. I vacuum a lot. I have to work hard to keep them off the furniture (it took a long time but they no longer try to get on the couch--partly because in my new house I can completely close off the living room when I"m not here).

Sometimes the older dog licks her paws at 2 in the morning and won't stop no matter how much I yell and I have thrown pillows at her and I think this should be considered a form of torture -- that is, persistent, endless paw licking just out of my reach.

One more time -- I have "good" dogs. And of course there are benefits. They are funny. I like giving them attention. I like the attention they give to me. I like watching neighborhood kids maul them when we're out on walks, and how they just stand there, panting, waiting for it to be over. I like "interacting" with them, and just having them around. The house is quiet when they are not here. I take them to the park and they chase sticks and play with other dogs, one of them sleeps on my feet while I grade papers, and the whole doggy deal.

And I try really hard not to anthropomorphize these animals who, God willing, I will outlive, but in the end it is like having family: Exasperating sometimes, want to kill them sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

tl;dr -- It's like having a relative in the house--yes, you love him, but you WILL want to kill him. Good luck.
posted by Buffaload at 4:55 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

So he wants a dog that you are going to be caring for because he travels for work so much? I'm sorry but that's not very cool in my book. You're already carrying a pretty heavy load with a baby and adding a dog for the little time he is home seems awfully selfish.

Yeah, this is super weird to me. He wants a dog that he would see on the weekends? Then he should volunteer at the shelter.

I can't tell if this is sarcastic or not, but this is actually a FANTASTIC idea. Did you/your husband know that animal shelters welcome volunteers, are desperate for volunteers, to do nothing more than exercise the dogs?

In any of the shelters I've volunteered with in three states, if all you want to do as a volunteer is walk dogs, you can walk dogs. You don't have to clean poopy kennels if you don't want to. A lot of shelters will let you take the dog out for the day or the afternoon or just a short walk, without entering into a whole fostering arrangement.

If what your husband really wants is a buddy to take fishing on the weekends, that would be completely perfect. And what a wonderful thing for a dog that would otherwise be sitting in a cage all day.
posted by Ashley801 at 4:57 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Somewhat related to your question, for a lower maintenance dog of medium size you could look and see if any breeders near you have an outdoors dog like the Finnish Lapphund. We stumbled across one once (they're very rare outside of Finland apparently) and she was absolutely the best dog I've had. It's a reindeer herding dog that can live outdoors in frigging Finland, and has a coat that sheds down easily in warmer months. Spitz in general have really good personality. Perfectly capable of entertaining themselves independantly when left alone outdoors.. they're an outdoors dog anyway... but also affectionate. She honestly didn't mind being ignored for entire days as long as she knew we were nearby, and would happily return any affection we gave her.

They're basically not emotionally needy like some other breeds, which is a huge red flag for me. She was almost zero maintenance, but then you expect that with outdoors dogs.

This sounds like relationship-filter...
posted by xdvesper at 5:06 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a puppy. It's taken me 3 hours to get through this post because every time I sit down at my laptop, he wants to play, or needs to go out or needs fed or he is chewing up something in the other room.

I love him. He is an amazingly well-behaved puppy. Giving him attention doesn't feel like work, and I look forward to being with him, etc, etc.

But I cannot imagine doing this with a baby, even if my spouse was very involved.

Whatever you do, do not get a puppy!
posted by bluestocking at 5:15 PM on October 21, 2010

There is no such beast as a low-maintenance dog, no matter how many people tell you their dog/breed is. Dogs that do not seek attention from or companionship with humans are known as 'wolves' or they missed the window of proper socialization to humans and are really f-ed up in the head, probably irreparably so--though anxiolytic drugs and serious behavioral training can moderate this to some degree.

Incidentally, Max Power is totally wrong about 'men and dogs.' There are men who can ignore their dogs' impact on the home environment until it suits them. (Many of them relate to their kids in a similar delightful fashion.) But I know enough conscientious male veterinarians, vet students, graduate students, and veterinary technicians/tech students--not to mention many, many owners with no professional tie to the veterinary field, just a love for their dog(s)--to prove it's hardly universal.

(Of course, since Max is the kind of man who has made sure his giant-breed dog's neurological disease was properly diagnosed and treated and comfortable, he's not actually a guy who really treats his dogs like moving plants in the home environment, or things that are 'around,' whose bother can be brushed off or filtered into the background. He pays attention to their health and care and daily well-being, and ivests in it. Kudos to you, Max.)

which is not to say that there aren't plenty of loving, attentive owners who can't afford 10k of care, especially with the economy as it is.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 5:21 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

My partner deeply wants one; it's a real quality of life issue for him that he doesn't have one.

I would be doing most -- often all -- of the daytime dog care,

I really hope that your partner is not trying to guilt-trip you into getting a dog because his life is worse without it. Because your life - at least right now, with a baby - will be worse with a dog. Puppies especially are a huge amount of work, and it's not fair to ask you to shoulder a double burden. Even more when you consider what it would be taking away from your work, and your ability to have some time to yourself.

My aunt got a dog shortly after she had a baby, and had to give it up because it was just too much work to raise and walk with dog with all the demands of an infant. That dog was also a large dog - English sheepdog - and a puppy. If you do decide to get a dog, you absolutely need to not get a puppy and to look for a breed that's relatively low-energy.

The other thing I worry about with a dog is that kids are idiots around animals - when you're not looking they grab, they pull, and the animal does the only thing it can to protect itself, biting or scratching. Big dogs often have more of a tolerance for this sort of thing than small dogs. Keep in mind the added worry that you may have in your life if you want to turn your back on your toddler without worrying that you're going to find it's being bitten by the dog. I don't know which breed would be best - older Newfoundlands come to mind, because they're big and gentle - but I don't really know.

Personally, by the way, I am a lot like your husband. I don't like that there is no dog in my life, but life isn't always perfect, and we have to be realistic about our life situation. Not all lifestyles are compatible with responsible dog ownership. When your kids are old enough to know not to grab at the dog, that might be the right time.
posted by Dasein at 5:31 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you are wonderful for asking this question before you decide. And I think you should decide NOT to get a dog. I love dogs, my work involves dogs, my hobbies all involve dogs, my life revolves around my dogs, and the last thing I would want is for a dog to end up in a situation where it is someone's work instead of someone's joy. All dogs are work to some extent or another, sure you can do a bad job of it or just leave the dog outside all the time or whatever and some dogs will adapt and adjust and be okay, but most will be miserable in such situations and will make your life miserable without training, exercise and love. Dogs have been selectively bred for generation after generation to want to be with people, with very few exceptions, and it's very far from ideal to bring such an animal into a home where it will be a burden to its primary caregiver. It's also not fair to YOU, when you're obviously just not that into it. Get a dog when your partner has time to be a good owner for it. I have a sneaking suspicion that your partner likes the idea of a dog more than anything, and I wonder if he has ever actually BEEN the primary caregiver for a dog, especially something bouncy and high energy like a Sporting breed like a Lab or Golden - you can change a lot about a dog but you can't change what it was bred to do (run and work all day in bad weather in the case of these two breeds) and you can't change the amount of exercise it needs (a lot in the case of these two breeds).

The vast majority of dogs in the shelter/rescue network are there because people didn't do their homework before getting them, kudos to you for doing your homework first.
posted by biscotti at 5:32 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Haven't read all of the comments above, but just jumping in to say, based on your question, don't get a dalmatian. We have a WONDERFUL, sweet dalmatian. He was my boyfriend's before we moved in together. And he is just. so. needy. He's wonderful when I am able to be patient. But on days when I get home from work, and my arms are full of stuff, and I'm trying to take off my shoes and need to go to the bathroom and am really stressed out and just need to sit, with no one requiring ANYTHING from me at the moment, and the dog is all "HELLO!!! I love you! Oh, let me knock you over and sniff you and love you, oh you're my favorite," well, that's just too much for me. I go hide in the bedroom and close the door. (After going to the bathroom.)

You just need to be a very patient person with this breed, and I am NOT patient, I want to be able to ignore anyone and anything at anytime, and you can't do that with this dog.
posted by teragram at 5:53 PM on October 21, 2010

It really doesn't sound like you have any interest in getting a dog, although having said that, giving a home to a placid, snoozing old dog for its twilight years might be less of a burden than a playful hyperactive young mutt.

On preview, volunteering at a dog shelter sounds perfect for your partner. You don't want a dog and he doesn't want to do the day to day work you need to when you've got a dog. It's a really good solution.
posted by idiomatika at 5:54 PM on October 21, 2010

Man, I have 3 dogs, 2 cats, and I foster/volunteer with a dog rescue group and I don't work nearly as much with my dogs as you all seem to.

I have 2 middle-aged dobermans and a 1-year old schnauzer mix. My "work" with them involves getting up in the morning and letting them outside, where they romp and play and poop until I am ready to go to work. The puppy goes into his kennel and the other two stay out in the house. When I get home from work, I dish up food for everyone, fill up the giant communal water bowl, and let everyone back out side after they eat. If the weather is nice, I will sit out on the patio with them and read a book or just relax and give them some affection. They generally romp around or just chill out while I cook dinner and do whatever I would normally do in the evenings. Before bed, everyone goes outside again. It's really not a big thing.

In addition, I have to bathe everyone about once a month and do nail clips. I also sweep and vacuum weekly to pick up the dog hair (which isn't that bad, dobermans have very short hair). I also have to remember once a month to buy dog food and take them to the vet annually (assuming no other health issues have come up during the year).

All that being said, a lab or a retriever would pretty result in the opposite of what I have just described. I think it all depends on the age, breed, and temperment of the dog. My dogs are perfectly content with a bunch of head scratches and kisses a few times a day, and they get their exercise by chasing squirrels and such in the yard. My dogs are all healthy, happy, and spoiled rotten.

But, as others have said, if you really, really don't want a dog and your husband does but won't be taking care of it, I wouldn't get one. If you really want to try out having a dog, contact your local humane society and offer to foster a calm, adult dog for a few weeks. Maybe try a few different breeds before committing to a dog for life.
posted by tryniti at 5:58 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, some dogs shit where they are not supposed to and/or have long hair (which combined with diarrhea is kind of a pain in the ass to clean up). They can also be loud and needy. My roomates dog will cry for hours if he's in the kennel alone.
posted by thylacine at 6:18 PM on October 21, 2010

A dog would make a totally awesome birthday present for a 6 year old.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:22 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]

I have never owned a pet, but my SO came with two Border Collies and a cat.

God help me, but I love them more with every passing day, not least because their love for me is obvious and absolute.

Okay, granted, I'm merely loved while my SO is worshipped, but I can deal with that.

It's a great feeling to have the unconditional love of a pet, even if that means that she pees on the carpet from excitement when I arrive. Especially since I don't have to clean it up.

The vet bills? Well, these dogs, you bet. A dog or cat I have not fallen for? Not so much.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 7:23 PM on October 21, 2010

I think it's great that you're asking this question beforehand, but please don't get a dog unless you're totally on board and ready to assume 100% of the responsibility for his care. Dogs deserve loving, engaged owners and you already sound semi-resentful. There's a great possibility that you might become an awesome dog owner, but your preemptive unwillingness to have a "doggy" relationship with your pet strikes me as a big clue that it's not a good idea for you to have a dog right now.
posted by mewithoutyou at 7:40 PM on October 21, 2010

Mewithoutyou, my point is that one can be surprised and inspired by the love of a pet, and rise to the occasion.

Did I ever imagine in my wildest dreams that I would like having a cat sleep on top of my head, purring like mad and occasionally digging his claws into my face? No.

Would I have it any other way? After a period of adjustment, to include throwing him off the bed, which act of violence he seems to have mistaken for affection, no.

All of which is to say, I don't think up front "100% responsibility" is the end all, be all of pet ownership. It needs to come to that, yes.

But it can come to that without being a requirement beforehand.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 8:06 PM on October 21, 2010

Your partner, at least for now, should go volunteer at a shelter a few hours a week. It sounds like he often won't have much more time than that. Just reading your question stressed me out - career, baby, and a dog that will require at least an hour of exercise a day?

I quite recently adopted a dog with my partner. I was similar to you in that I've never had a dog and have never been super oriented towards having one. But I knew it was really important to her, and I went into it knowing we were going to be a team and share responsibilities and timing. Had I been in your situation, where I had to have the bulk of responsibility, I would have been very wary, as I think you are right to be. At the very least you should sit down and really talk about how you will make this anywhere close to a 50/50 responsibility.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:50 PM on October 21, 2010

Short Attention Sp, it's great that you came to that, but what if OP doesn't? I totally agree that one can be surprised and inspired by the love of a pet (and it happens every day and that is awesome), but it would be heartbreaking if instead the dog became a point of resentment and suffered neglect, even emotional neglect. OP should definitely be ready to take on 100% of the responsibility of the dog, because that could go either way. If the OP sounded even remotely interested in getting a dog and if there were any indication that they might someday come to love it, I'd be giving different advice, but they're not - quite the opposite, in fact. And that's not fair to a dog.

I have an awesome, amazing Pit Bull who was a rescue. When I adopted her, did I know that a year later she'd be suffering from seizures and would require a lot of expensive medication and quarterly testing for the rest of her life? Did I know that she'd end up with a bum knee that will require surgery? Sure didn't. My dog requires a lot of money and a whole lot of my time, which I give gladly because I adore her and she depends on me. Had I had been in the position of the OP in the first place, it may have ended very differently.
posted by mewithoutyou at 10:53 PM on October 21, 2010

I adopted a big, energetic mutt about 6 months ago, when she was 1 or 1.5 years old. It was a quality of life thing for me, and only a big, "doggy" dog would do! This dog is fully house trained and has lovely indoor manners. So that cuts down a lot of time I might otherwise spend supervising. Even so - she is a lot of work! I have her in daycare 3 days a week (which is not cheap). On the remaining days, I walk her 4 times a day, for a total of 1.5 to 2 hours each day. She also needed a lot of training, especially at first, but still ongoing. This week she was sick, so I got to scrub chunky dog puke out of the carpet. This morning we had an unscheduled bath due to soft poop in long butt fur. I was late for work. And oh, the laundry! Even when she's not sick, so much laundry! The dog bedding and her rugs and blankets and my exercise clothes from all those walks, and all the towels from her weekly baths.

I love love love dogs, and all this work is so worth it to me, to have this wonderful, guileless, loving creature in my family. If I were NOT a dog person, I think I would be stewing with rage and resentment at the lost hours, never sleeping in anymore, the expense, the dealing with the various disgusting emissions.

My partner was not so keen on getting a dog, but I wanted one so desperately that he said okay. So she is *my* dog and I do all the work. Could it be your partner doesn't have first-hand experience how much work a dog really is? I think this would be extremely difficult if you already have a baby to care for.
posted by spiny at 10:59 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

methoutyou, good point, and it makes me realize that I failed to indicate that I am not responsible for the pets. I certainly would be if it came to that, but I do pretty much get to enjoy them without a whole lot of the work.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 3:25 AM on October 22, 2010

A dog is a lot of work. Had mine 10 months now, fully prepared for him to take over my life, and he has, in every way. I fought to change my life around so I was in the position to be able to take care of all those needs, for years. But as others have said, I really wanted it and in no way do I resent the tiny amount of time I get to myself now.

In your circumstances, I wouldn't even consider getting a dog until your partner is willing to shoulder the bulk of the work and time. It's his quality of life at stake(and I can completely understand that feeling of his), so he needs to make the sacrifices to make that doggy life happen. I moved jobs, and then I moved house to be next to my work, so I could come home and be with my dog as much as possible. If he can't or won't make the necessary sacrifices to take on this responsibility, it's not your job to make those sacrifices instead. Not unless you're willing to trade your quality of life for his.
posted by Elfasi at 3:45 AM on October 22, 2010

May i suggest another breed. My family has cockapoos . They are decently small. (my parents is black and 18 pounds) and depending on the personallity can be very playfull but not hard to handle. My parents cockapoo looks more like a poodle then a cocker spaniel but without the pointy nose.

Playfull and LOVES to play fetch .. Has all the qualities of a big dog without being a big dog.

Since they are poodle mixes they do not shed either
posted by majortom1981 at 4:21 AM on October 22, 2010

Any chance you have friends with dogs? Maybe start offering to dog sit for them. Even a long weekend might be enough to figure out if dog ownership is something to consider. Plus, dog owners are always looking for a dog sitter and you'd get lots of brownie points for it.
posted by bubonicpeg at 5:59 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I generally pop into dog threads, I'll pop in here.

I have 3 dogs. A golden, a border, and the french version of an english springer. (he's blue and black and longer-hairded.) The golden and the border are 10, the Epagneul is about 5, I adopted him a little over 2 years ago, I've had the golden and the border since they were 12 weeks and 4 weeks, respectively.

When I got the golden (Naya) and the border (Storm), I was very actively involved in Search and Rescue, so several weekends a month we were able to channel that energy into working, earning their keep. Storm also did agility and obedience, because I swear to god she could take the SAT and get a higher score than me. Naya...is the sweetest dog of all time, and as stoic and reliable as a Farmall, but where teaching Storm a command took 15 minutes, it took Naya about 3 weeks. No joke.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling about my dogs, but I wanted to say that FEMALE and MALE Goldens behave entirely differently. Females tend to be extremely dependent, whereas males are a little more independent. In SAR, we call goldens "Swamp Collies", because they generally love water and making a hot mess of the world around them. By temperment, a Golden is generally a Lab that's a lot harder to clean, however where I can't really stand Lab temperment, I really enjoy the devotion and body language of my golden.

I also wouldn't especially recommend adoping an adult dog when you have a baby around, unless you really, really know the source. Not that a puppy can't hurt the wee-one, but 1, watching the bond a tot and a dog form is amazing, and 2--kids are rough on dogs as kind of a rule, so a dog that grows up in that household generally is more Ok with being yanked on than one that didn't.

I never recommend small dogs to anyone other than the elderly or the disabled as companion dogs----from my perspective you need The Ability To Do Epic Dog Things with your dog, like jumping in lakes and getting muddy and wrastling and hiking and be protected. Watching kids snuggle with a big fluffy Golden or Shepherd is so awesome. They make awesome pillows. Your kid is gonna grow up with this dog---so it has to be more than an ornament.

Yes, dogs are a lot of work. No, a puppy can't go 12+ hours without a walk. No, no dog should routinely have to go 12+ hours w/o any interaction. (Mine spend about 9-10 hours a day in my full basement. I'm not pleased, but it works just fine and they have each other.) Yes, a puppy will take more time. Yes, a puppy will destroy stuff. Yes, most puppies are entirely irresistible and I suspect that your SO might be more inclined to participate once he sees the little booger. NO, I don't think you should just spring it on them.

My recommendations of breeds for you: Goldens are great, Shepherds are great for kids, Newfs are great and extremely low energy and MAN they love being outside. Other midsize breeds like Vizslas and Rhodies are pretty good too. Aussies and Borders are GREAT but you need, need, need to be a dog person for them. An Am Staff or a boxer might be an option too. Same for a mastiff, but you likely can't afford to feed one of those.

I'd avoid Labs (for now. for a 8-9-10 year old? perfect.), Huskies, anything under 40lbs save possibly a border, rotts, or any designer mutt save for possibly the poodle mixes, because they're hypoallergenic...(but man they sure look goofy.)
posted by TomMelee at 6:09 AM on October 22, 2010

If you feel up to it, consider two adult, low energy dogs. When they feel like getting rid of some energy, they can do so by playing with each other. Make sure the SO feeds them and walks them before leaving for work, and feeds them and plays with them when he gets home. As long as you can let them out once or twice in between, it's very possible that you won't need to spend a lot of hands-on time with them.

Get to know the individual dogs before adopting, if possible -- don't just go by breed. I work from home and we have two dogs. We watch other people's dogs on occasion. Ours are used to the routine and basically bother me a few times to go outside or go for a walk or get a treat, but mostly sleep during the day until my wife comes home and it's playtime. For the houseguests, the range of personality and attendant amount of care is huge. Some young dogs are energetic, raging little assholes, and will guarantee I get nothing done. (they are, however, adorable) Some older, calmer dogs will basically blend into the furniture until it's time to eat or pee.
posted by condour75 at 6:35 AM on October 22, 2010

I'd wait till things change, when your husband can be around to care for the pet he wants. I don't think its reasonable to expect that you be saddled with more responsibility for an animal that you're unsure about especially considering he wants a dog with a temperament you don't like, its bound to create friction between you and your partner.

My dog loving partner and I got a dog after I said I wanted one. I thought I'd like a dog based on experiences with other peoples dogs, but ultimately realized after 10 years with Stinky I like dogs owned by others and, won't ever get another.
posted by squeak at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2010

We have two big dogs - a 2.5 yr old German Shepherd mix and a ~5 yr old Malamute.

I'll hundreth the others in saying that, if you do get a dog, get an older rescue dog whose personality is predictable. At least 3 or 4 years old - by that time most of the puppy hijinks are done. If you find a chill dog, I truly do not think he'd be much day-to-day work for you. Our dogs sleep most of the day, except for trotting out to the yard a few times for nature/bathroom breaks. Really, they're completely chill - my husband works from home, and needs to concentrate, and they're no problem at all. They're also now old enough that one 30 minute walk a day is enough to keep the boredom - and thus behavioral problems - down.

However, there's more to owning a dog than just the dog itself:

1) Food & Water. If you get the good stuff (and you want to get the good stuff - it's important for dog health), that'll be a decent chuck of money every month. Where are you going to keep the bowls? What about the inevitable splashing from the water bowl - especially if you have hard wood floors? What if the baby is really interested in playing with (or eating) the dog's food or water?

2) Hair. I love my malamute - he's the chillest dog in the world, just an absolute gentle giant. But I don't love his hair at all. It gets all over the place, and has increased our need to sweep/vacuum by 100%. All dogs shed - and some shed a lot. Can your household handle the extra cleaning?

3) Dirt and junk from outside. Dogs don't wear shoes when they go outside, and they don't wipe their feet when they come in. If you have snowy winters (and the muddy springs that tend to go along with them), how are you going to handle the dog bringing in the great outdoors with him?

4) Vet appointments. There's the cost (expensive and rising fast like human health care). And then there's the time (are the places near you open on weekends so that your husband could bring the pooch?). And if the dog gets sick, you're likely going to be the one giving the medicine or dealing with vomiting dog in the house.

5) Keeping an eye on dog and baby. Even the chillest dog still needs to be supervised when around kids - if only for the dog's sake when the kid gets interested in teasing/pinching/hitting the dog (and most kids go through this stage). What is your plan there?
posted by Gori Girl at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2010

How much work is a dog?

If it's work, don't get a dog. If you are going to be around this poor thing for most of its waking hours, you are going to have to walk it (rain, snow, sleet, or hail), play with it, pet it, talk to it, and cuddle it. Leave it to someone who actually wants a dog.
posted by pracowity at 12:48 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

What ImproviseorDie wrote above is the best thing I've read all day -- and it's totally 100% on target as to everyday life with a dog. I have three, and it's just like that, day and night. The other thing to consider is that unless you have a very well-settled older dog, you will be up nights, and not just because of the baby. The dog will want out; the dog will want attention; the dog will want a snack; the dog will ..... the list goes on. Let's just say my insomnia has not been helped by the addition of three dogs into my life. BUT they are joys, can't live with 'em or without 'em, etc.

I agree with everybody else that your partner expecting you to be the main caretaker for the dog is more than a bit unreasonable. It's unfair to you and it's unfair to the dog. An added issue is that if the dog only sees your partner nights/weekends, a differential in the dog's behavior toward you versus him could develop. You could be bad cop and he could be good cop, dispensing treats and affection and warmth when you're too exhausted to deal with any more of the dog and her craziness. Or vice versa, he could be more of a stranger to the dog whereas you're the familiar face that the dog sees every day and night.

You mentioned that your work needs long blocks of focus. Unless you can convince your partner to get a much older bloodhound or something who does virtually nothing but sleep all day, you're soon going to be very frustrated to have the dog constantly underfoot and in your face when you're trying to get work done, which is what she will be. My dogs will jump in my lap, nose and claw me, whine, lick the laptop touchpad surface, and generally do anything and everything obnoxious when they are awake and I'm trying to concentrate.
posted by blucevalo at 2:28 PM on October 22, 2010

I am going to echo those who said: he wants the dog but YOU are going to take 100% of the responsibility. WTF? That hardly seems fair to you, or grown-up behavior on his part. It strikes me as more something a little kid would do - kids are FAMOUS for saying they want a dog (cat, pony, kangaroo, fill in the blank) and the responsibility for the work the pet creates is fobbed off onto Mommy and/or Daddy.

And if your husband is traveling "seven days a week" then when is he going to have time to enjoy the pet that is so important for his "quality of life?" Will he get time to enjoy the dog on the weekends?

A dog is a living creature, not a stuffed toy to be donated to Goodwill when you are tired of it. And dogs are LOADS of work. It sounds like you have enough on your plate with a new baby and husband who is gone a lot. And you're not a real dog person, it sounds like, but you would be doing ALL the work.

If your husband wants the dog, he should be willing to take on at least 50% of the care. I suggest, in all seriousness, that you don't adopt a dog right now, that your husband look at volunteering at a shelter or rescue and that you insist on this before you commit to getting a dog - it will give him a chance to know what actual responsibility for a dog is like (rather than rosy childhood memories) and also talk to "dog people" who can give him sound advice.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:42 PM on October 22, 2010

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