Am I ready to own a dog?
January 27, 2015 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm at the point in my life where I want to get a dog, but I want to make sure I have all the boxes checked so I know I'm making the right decision.

+ I love dogs. I'm always stealing snuggles with other people's dogs and am guilty of knowing them better than their owners.
+ I'm late 20s, I have a stable job, great finances.
+ I can bring a dog to work, if it gets along with other people and dogs (so I'd screen dogs for this with adoption agencies and get a trainer if I need to). I'd plan to bring my dog to work 3 days a week and leave it at home 2 days a week. I don't go out after work that much.
+ I have friends who'd be willing to take the dog when we go on vacations, or I'd find a pet boarder.

- I'm not sure how dog friendly a lot of NYC businesses are. Can I bring my dog into stores with me? I know places that serve food are totally off limits due to health laws.
- My job is not a strict 9-5. I can sometimes work closer to nine than eight hours a day.
- I live with a partner who is ambivalent about getting a dog. He never had pets as a kid, but he's warmed up to my cat. He says he's "not against" getting a dog, but because he never had one, he's not eager to get one either. I anticipate most dog duty will be mine, and the dog will be mine if we ever split up.
- I currently bike-commute, though I could switch to taking the subway. I'd love to train my dog to ride in the bike pannier with me so I could still get exercise. Is that unrealistic? Otherwise, it's a 1hr walk to work.
- Will I get tired of all the walking? I've only owned dogs in the suburbs with a dog door (though we tried to do one longer walk a day).

+ Do I need a dogwalker for the days I don't take the dog to work? Is that really what everyone does? Even though I can afford it, that seems expensive.
+ I like bigger breeds (labs, pits, hounds) but in NYC it seems like there's an advantage to being able to put your dog in a bag to take it on the subway, or in a bag on your bike. I'd ask for breed suggestions that are 20-30 lb, trainable, sociable, but still active -- but then I suppose I'd be waiting for years for one of those breeds to show up on an adoption list. I'm not sure how to find a dog that fits my needs without going to a breeder / waiting forever.
+ Is anything here a deal-breaker? Anything I'm forgetting to plan for? Am I over-thinking this?
posted by hyperion to Pets & Animals (36 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are so many dogs at shelters, and too many of them will be euthanized. Go visit. Meet different dogs. Take your time. I've adopted a middle-aged dog; he was awesome, and a young small breed dog who is also awesome, in a different way. walk the dogs, talk to them, hang out a little. The right dog will find you.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Permission granted. You sound like a fine dog owner. If you can afford it, then a walker is a great idea, though I know several 9 to 5ers who leave their dogs at home and the animals seem used to it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes! You are ready for a dog!

Can I bring my dog into stores with me?
My experience in NYC with a dog was that it's very store-dependent. Some stores were happy to have my dog, some ignored that she was there, and some didn't want a dog and usually had a sign in the window (except, like you said, places where food is served or sold, which wouldn't need a sign). Some, though not many in my experience, store owners have dog treats behind the register.

Do I need a dogwalker for the days I don't take the dog to work?
It depends on the dog's age and the length of time he's alone. I work 6-12 hour days, so I have a dog walker for the longest days and try to stop at home if it's possible on other days, as I drive around during the day. It's not the cheapest thing but my dog loves her and it gives me peace of mind.

I like bigger breeds (labs, pits, hounds) but in NYC it seems like there's an advantage to being able to put your dog in a bag to take it on the subway, or in a bag on your bike...
There are advantages and disadvantages to big or small dogs. Small dogs could go on the subway in a carrier, or sometimes in a taxi in a carrier depending on the driver's kindness, while a big dog is limited to...not much. Like theora55 said, go to a shelter and see who you like rather than worrying too much about getting a certain breed.

Is anything here a deal-breaker? Anything I'm forgetting to plan for? Am I over-thinking this?
Nah, you got this. You're going to be a great dog owner!
posted by violetish at 7:47 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

(I don't own a dog, but I grew up with dogs.) The only thing on this list that gives me pause is your ambivalent partner. I've been the ambivalent partner in a my-partner-really-wants-a-dog relationship. She got the dog and neither of us was happy with the situation: she'd agreed that the dog would be her responsibility, but I still ended up watching the dog when she was out of town, or cleaning up after the dog, or staying at home because she couldn't bring the dog out with us, or or or...

So of course I'd had unrealistic expectations about the effect this dog would have on my life (i.e. none at all!), so I got resentful, and she got resentful of me, etc. Please communicate better than we did! YMMV of course. But it would have helped me a lot to have hashed out the details beforehand in a mature way.

Otherwise, go for it. Dogs are awesome.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 7:47 PM on January 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

So, I (42, married, have had dogs for almost 20 years including ~5 years of mastiff rescue) will tell you the truth you don't want to hear first: Don't get a dog. You cannot career-climb when you can only be gone 9 hours a day. You can mostly not drop everything and go to Rome for a month or a year when the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes up. You do not know who you're going to marry or settle in with permanently just yet, and you're definitely not going to be splitting dog responsibility 50% with the person you're with now because they don't actually want a dog. And this:

I'd plan to bring my dog to work 3 days a week and leave it at home 2 days a week.

is almost guaranteed not to be a thing you have the option to do for the next 12-18 years. This is completely irrelevant to the full lifetime of your dog and should not be a deciding factor (also: there are maaaaaany people who do not want dogs at their work and cannot say anything because what kind of asshole hates a dog, but I'll admit I'm one of them, and I work from home with my 3).

Can you save up and maintain a cushion of somewhere around $2000-4000 for dog emergencies? (I can't. One of my dogs needs surgery, but my husband needs a real job so it's not going to happen.)

Now, that aside, if you do get a dog, and get a dog from a are a bad person. You are not keeping sheep, you do not need assistance for the blind, you do not need a purebred dog, and they are in no way predictable except maybe in size anyway. (Inbred dogs tend to have health problems, and all bred dogs - as far as your purposes go - are inbred dogs.) If you do not have the resources or patience to get a dog from a shelter or breed rescue and get a trainer if you have issues, you don't need a dog.

If you still must get a dog, it seems absurd to get a big dog in NYC unless you are bullshit rich. So yes, get a purse dog. Poodles and poodle mixes are incredibly sturdy, low-allergen, smart, require slightly more grooming than a short sleek-coated dog but when you're living in such close quarters with the rest of the world, routine trips to a (good, non-abusive, you will need to find one) groomer are a good thing.

A dog in their main life segment (not a puppy, not elderly) can go 9-10 hours in most cases. That's enough for most people to commute to work and back, but a break is certainly better than none, and you at least need a relationship with someone who can go and take them out for a potty break when you can't get home that quickly.

There are dogs who need homes, and if you're willing to make the sacrifices and give a home to a dog who needs one, do it, but as much as I love my dogs I am looking forward to the phase of our lives when there are no dogs. If you feel no twinge of future regret reading this, go for it.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:53 PM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

I mean, people do it. You could do it in NYC. Responsible people in NYC have a dog walker, I think. Yep.

- Having a cat + dog + 2 adults might get crowded in your home. Honestly.

- You forgot to mention your neighbors. I'm pretty sure your neighbors want zero part of your barking dog. Urban neighbors are a lot closer in proximity than suburban neighbors and you failed to mention what your residence is like and if it can accommodate this addition comfortably for all who might be effected.

I've had pets in NYC. This is a 24/7 10 to 15 year commitment you are about to make. Like, your entire life every day and night will revolve around walking your dog. You will have to make arrangements or forego spontaneous plans/stay close to home because the dog will always need walking.

- It also sounds like your partner is being nice, but really isn't enthusiastic about adding another pet to your household.

Overall, I say you should not do this. Or do it after you break up with your current partner. Don't do it as a way to passive aggressively force a break-up, LOL. That wouldn't be fun!

Seriously? I would not have a dog in NYC unless I lived across the street from Prospect Park, Central Park, or similar. You are planning on a lot of things aligning to make this work, and for certain, not a lot will go your way in the end. In short, this does not sound like a great thing to do, it doesn't sound fair to the pup. Too many variables at this time for the situation you describe. I'm sorry.
posted by jbenben at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was a big dog person who grew up with hunting dogs and ended up with a ten pound dude. He was perfect, and it was super handy to be able to tuck him into my messenger bag when I wanted to pop into the library (for example). So get to know some little guys.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:57 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

People are going to have really great suggestions for owning a dog in NYC, but one thing I didn't see you mention here is how often you travel and if you've thought of whether you could own a dog if you end up single (god forbid, but let me tell you my cautionary tale.)

So, travel. I got a dog when I was with my ex, who also had a dog, so I didn't really think of this part. Her dog always stayed with her mom when we traveled, and she was delighted to host. Nothing about our lifestyle had to change when I got a dog, really. But then, after 5 years together, we broke up. Everything about that breakup was for the best but oh my god, did it change how I felt about owning a dog. Travel is now a pain in the ass. Dog sitters are expensive as HELL. Dog friendly hotels are pricey and hard to find. It adds so much more to the cost of travel that it really cut down my ability to do it or even to do things like day trips that I wouldn't want the dog with me for. (Re: taking your dogs places. I don't know about NYC but I live in a super dog-friendly area—Seattle—and haven't found really any situations where I can bring my dog if I'm on foot, like to the grocery store or coffeeshop. It's just a hassle to have her around even though I adore her and she's perfectly behaved. Then again, she's a great dane. I imagine it's way different with a smaller dog.) So that's travel.

As far as your partner goes, here's my cautionary tale as something to consider. I know your partner isn't going to be responsible for your dog but here's the thing—he'll still do things like feed the dog sometimes, get the dog water, watch the dog if you run out. This is awesome. Just having another person around to give the dog some attention is really nice even if that person isn't super invested in the dog. Being single, having to quickly find an apartment that would take a dog sucked. (Pet rent & deposit gets pricey.) I ended up moving across the country, and transporting the dog sucked, and it would have sucked just moving across the street. My ability to do fun spontaneous things was cut way back because I'm the one who has to take the dog out. And dogs are for the most part social creatures so while they can go 8 hours without you, they don't like it and some of them go pretty nuts with boredom. I have a super awesome older dog who is crate-trained, sleeps a lot and perfect in every way except that she really wants to be around me all the time which wasn't so bad when I was a couple and we stayed home with her all the time. Of course, you're not single at the moment and I hope your relationship continues for many happy years, but just wanted to give you a worst case scenario before you commit!
It's not reason enough to NOT get a dog because overall I love being a dog owner, but I would make sure you can commit to taking care of a dog if your circumstances change in terms of money, housing, or partnership.

Oh! And yes, apparently everyone has a dog walker. I work from home and felt really stupid about getting a walker but dog owners I meet assure me it's the norm. Living in an apartment with a dog is kind of a pain and having to get dressed, rain or shine, to give her exercise or take her out 3-4 times a day is both a blessing and a curse. So while it's not necessarily essential, if you can swing it, I'd budget for a dog walker a few times a week so you can ensure your dog gets more than enough exercise even on days when you're super busy. Plus, it's really good for the dog's social skills!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:59 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also -- since no one has mentioned it -- you can always foster a rescue dog first to see if he fits your lifestyle.
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:00 PM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oh yeah, and ditto everyone who is saying to get a small dog. I daydream about having a small enough dog that could pee on those pee-pads and I pay a huge premium for a first floor apartment in a safe neighborhood near a dog park so I can take my dog out, so it's not like I have to take an elevator every time she's gotta go out. I doubt that's an option where you are and I agree, you have to be pretty rich to deal with a bigger dog in the city.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:01 PM on January 27, 2015

I was also super overprepared for having a dog, so I totally get where you're coming from. I waited until I had a stable job with hours I could expect, I waited until I had the right apartment, I waited until I learned a lot about dog care, I waited until I could afford the particular dog I wanted (I went to a breeder because I think I fancy), and then I waited for my dog to be born and old enough to leave its mom. I started a puppy hope chest during this time. I had all of the things for a dog for a few months before I actually had any dog. I was ready. More than ready.

I think you are ready, too, and give you permission to get a dog!

One of the really great things about my little dude is that he's litter box trained. I can leave him all day when I'm at work and he can pee and poop to his little heart's content without me having to worry about him. If the weather sucks, he can do his business inside. (He actually prefers his litterbox to going outside a lot of the times, since there are scary things outside like other dogs and grass and occasionally breeze that mess up his dung shui.) If you get a smaller dog (anything under probably 25 lbs or so), with some training it'll learn to use a litter box no problem, which sounds like it could be a weight off your mind. That would be my recommendation, personally, for a city dog.
posted by phunniemee at 8:08 PM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'd ask for breed suggestions that are 20-30 lb, trainable, sociable, but still active -- but then I suppose I'd be waiting for years for one of those breeds to show up on an adoption list. I'm not sure how to find a dog that fits my needs without going to a breeder / waiting forever. Especially if you're willing to drive a few hours to pick up and you're not hyper-hyper-specific, you can find pretty much whatever you want. I've adopted via petfinder twice.

For the bike, BuddyRider takes dogs up to 30 lbs.

And yeah, you're ready. I'm so excited for you! Don't forget to post pictures.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:16 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I totally disagree with Lyn Never.
I've had dogs my entire life. I've had my dog (alone) for over 7 years. He's 10lbs. I'm 29. I live in NYC.
I've been in and out of relationships, I've only had 1 job where I could take him. I never ever feel like my dog ties me down, is too much effort or is something I have to annoyingly work my life around. I love having him, he enriches my life in every way. During bad times I'm never alone, he never judges me, he's always happy to see me. He can pick me up no matter how down I am.
It's great to have a dog that can be taken on the subway, I have definitely found it a convenience. My boyfriend and I plan to get a pitbull within the next year or two and that will change things. But he has a car so it's not a big deal transportation wise.
I don't have a dog walker and my dog is left alone for around 9 hours a day. He doesn't destory things, he's a big napper so he's quite happy to lay around. No accidents either. But he's a small dog without a lot of energy. A high energy dog/anxious dog will need daycare/a dog walker. Once a week he goes with my boyfriend to work.
I do think that you will get tired of walking an hour to work and back each day. 100% sure you will.
Definitely also adopt. Dog breeding is cruel, I don't care what anyone says. Pure breeds are also more prone to health issues. as someone said above, is the way to go.

You'll do great! Just make sure you make the right decision on size and be prepared to do some work at the beginning to get your dog acclimatized, used to you and to work out it's personality. They're all different and they all need different things.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:25 PM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

And anyone who says it's not fair to have a dog in NYC is being completely narrow minded. All dog breeds are different. There are dogs that definitely should not be kept in the city, but to suggest that NYC is a bad place for all dogs is just ludicrous.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:27 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

People who ask am I ready to own a dog are 100% ahead of people that blithely go to the pet shop or pound and pick one up on a whim.

Talk to your roommate some more and try to involve your partner in the dog hunt, even if it won't be their dog. Keep talking. It may not work out, and you'll see it's not going to work out, and you'll know to not do this thing. Or maybe your partner might get a bit more enthusiastic when they see exactly what the dog owning is going to entail. And they just might fall in love a little bit with the right dog.

If I die or become incapacitated, I know that I have planned to the best of my abilities what is going to happen to my horses, my dog and the cats. Shit happens in life, and you can't always get the future right, but you do owe it to your critters to make some sort of provisions for them.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:57 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just a little piece of advise - if your apartment doesn't have direct access to outside, try looking for a dog friend who won't have strong guard dog tendencies. Our normally very friendly Aussie was not fun to take down 3 flights of stairs for a pee, since he considered the stairs an extension of his territory and reacted VERY LOUDLY to neighbors walking by or, god forbid, another dog. This was especially not fun right before bedtime after smoking a joint!
posted by Drosera at 9:13 PM on January 27, 2015

I'd ask for breed suggestions that are 20-30 lb, trainable, sociable, but still active -- but then I suppose I'd be waiting for years for one of those breeds to show up on an adoption list.

Oh, one more thing on this: You're not looking for a breed that is those things, you're looking for a dog that is those things. Once you get in touch with a rescue, tell them about your lifestyle and the kind of things that are important for you in a dog. They will help you find the right dog, which may be a breed you expect, or may not. When I first adopted through petfinder, I wrote on the application that I would love to have a beagle, but I couldn't because I couldn't have a barking dog. They had a non-barking beagle and we were very happy together for many years.

On the people saying you shouldn't get a dog because this or that could happen and life changes and who knows you'll settle down with or where you'll work, etc: Look, having a dog is like having a kid and you have to look at it that way. It's absolutely a commitment for many many years. And your life will change during those years and when your life changes, you're going to have to just find a way to make it work. Changing jobs and not being able to take your dog to work anymore would suck, but it's no different than changing jobs and not having workplace daycare anymore. Yeah, it sucks. You'll have to figure out how to deal with it, because that's what you committed to.

It's also like having kids because you can plan and try and train and teach, but in the end, you're stuck with what you get. Sure, look for a dog that fits your lifestyle, but do so with an awareness that the dog may not be quite who you thought it was, or might change. So you'll have a dog who is not quite what you want. Deal with it, because that's the commitment you made. You can't throw your teenager out for reading Ayn Rand and you can't just give away your dog because it sheds more than you're comfortable with. You can try to teach your teenager your values and you can buy a furminator, but if those things don't work, too bad. You're stuck with them. You can't just bail.

Don't worry, your dog will do the same for you: When it thinks it gets to go to the office 3 times a week and then life changes and he doesn't, he'll deal with it because you're his best friend and you're awesome no matter what. You owe the dog the same.

So yeah, get a dog. It may not work out exactly as you planned, but you took in a living thing and now it's you're job to do what it takes to give it an awesome life. What could be more rewarding than that?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:30 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

ditto everyone who is saying to get a small dog. I daydream about having a small enough dog that could pee on those pee-pads

I have a small dog who uses pee pads in a litter box, and it's really convenient -- if I get stuck at work I don't have to worry that she's watering the couch cushions. On the other hand, the litter box is kind of gross, and your ambivalent partner may not want to live with a dog's toilet in the house.

Also, I've spent a small fortune on my dog's emergency medical issues; I got her from an animal shelter but she's a purebred. If you can get some sort of a mix, they tend to be healthier than the inbred ones. Even so, your dog will at some point have a medical crisis, so make sure you're prepared for that.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:59 PM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

OH MAN, this is really important: if you decide to go with litter training, USE PAPER LITTER. This is something you would surely have discovered when researching it yourself, but I don't want it to go unstated. Puppies are super dumb and will eat it. Paper pellets are fine for their tummies. Clumping clay is not.
posted by phunniemee at 10:10 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

You seem perfectly capable and ready to care for a dog.

As for considering whether or not to get a dog walker, I think it really comes down to the dog — how active it needs to be and whether it gets lonely during the day. Many can handle being left alone for 8-9 hours during the day. Others not so much.

posted by ageispolis at 11:06 PM on January 27, 2015

First of all, I'd just like to say that I think you sound more responsible than most dog owners I know, and the fact that you are asking all of these questions, weighing options, and thinking through things before adopting a dog is *highly* commendable. You sound like you would be a thoughtful, responsible dog owner.

My two dogs are my best buds, they have gotten me through pretty rough patches in life, and I can't imagine life without them.

That being said, I just want to give you some additional anecdotal data, things that I wish that I had thought about or known prior to adopting dogs.

(And for what it's worth, I have two dogs - not one - and mine are fairly large, 45 and 75 pounds. And I do not live in NYC, but I live in a large metropolitan area).

I'm late 20s, I have a stable job, great finances.
Just make sure you are prepared financially. Unexpected expenses come up. Dog food gets expensive for larger dogs. Dog walkers, vet care, unexpected surgeries, boarding fees. Day to day things don't seem bad, but one torn ligament can cost thousands of dollars in vet fees.

so I'd screen dogs for this with adoption agencies and get a trainer if I need to
Everyone wants dogs that are good with people and other dogs. I adopted mine at 6 months and 2.5 years. I religiously took them to classes and tried to socialize them. They were both great. Then one of them decided they weren't great with random adults and kids. And the other one at some point decided that they weren't great with certain dogs. This means constant management and lifelong training on my part. So, do your best to find the dog that fits your requirements, but just know that things change, temperaments change or may not be what they first seem, etc. Be prepared that you may have a dog that is not good with certain people or dogs, despite your best intentions and efforts.

I can sometimes work closer to nine than eight hours a day.
My dogs, physically, are fine for 10 hours a day while I'm at work, but they have access to a dog door and a yard. Many dogs, physically, can handle being alone that long. But I'll tell you, I feel guilty every day about leaving them for that long. I know they sleep most of the time, but they are alone all day and by the time I get home they want all the attention. Which I don't blame, but sometimes it can be stressful when all you want to do is veg or get away or just stay out late after work, or extend your vacation. It's hard to do these things with a dog.

I live with a partner who is ambivalent about getting a dog.
Anticipate that you will be doing all of the care, and don't become resentful if deep down you want him to help/participate even though he indicates that he doesn't want to. I grew resentful of my ex because he didn't help out with the dogs as much as I thought he should. It caused a big riff in our relationship.

Good luck with your decision! Just remember dogs are a long (10+ years) commitment. Situations, relationships, and finances change over time but your dog is your commitment. But as long as you stick with him and adjust accordingly, you should do fine!
posted by canda at 12:28 AM on January 28, 2015

I think you are more than ready to get a dog. The only thing I would add is to be very honest about the level of involvement you are expecting from your partner, and put aside a good amount of cash for veterinary and dog-sitting emergencies. I have found that friends and family have the best of intentions for helping out but are often unavailable for the same reasons you need them, such as Christmas holidays, etc., so you need reliable paid options.

As for the career impact, I have found that my dog has helped much more than hurt. The fact that I need to take care of him helps me set boundaries, and I inevitably take better care of myself at the same time. His affection helps me de-stress and keep things in better perspective, too. All in all, while he does require time and resources, he gives more than he gets, by far.
posted by rpfields at 3:01 AM on January 28, 2015

I leave my dog home alone four days a week, and do employ a dog-walker to take him out at lunchtime to break that time up. I suspect he would be OK, in the sense of not pissing or shitting in the house, for a 9 hour period, but I feel better knowing that he's not on his own the whole time, even though it’s quite an onerous expense for me.

While my dog will wait quietly and sleep for most of the day, there are dogs that are continually anxious and restless when left alone.

One more potential relationship to consider is that between your dog and your cat. Dogs and cats can sometimes be best friends, but other times they really don’t get along at all…
posted by misteraitch at 3:02 AM on January 28, 2015

I am from the old era. My dogs don't have a dogwalker, and they're alone about 9 hours a day. I have two of them, and they're absolutely fine. (When I had just one, he was absolutely fine, too.) I know this because I used to set a webcam to watch them and it was the most boring cam ever.

I live in an apartment with elevator access. Because we have to walk them, the dogs get more activity now then they did when I had a house and would lazily open the back door to let them into the yard.

Neither of our jobs allow dogs, (and if I was still a wagering woman, I'd bet that the current tolerance of pets in workplaces and stores is going to fade in the next 10 or so years) and we don't take them to stores or farmers markets or festivals what have you. Because one of them gets anxious in crowds. Not bitey, not pee-y, but you can look at him and say, "This dog would much rather be home on his dog bed gnawing on his rope bone, than here surrounded by strange feet." So I would just say be prepared in case your little guy is more of a homebody.

You'll be fine. Go find your buddy!
posted by kimberussell at 3:42 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

A few positives on having a dog in NYC-

-Look around! There are soooooo many dogs here! City dogs, if well cared for, are very happy because they tend to have a great mix of routine and novelty. They get out into a world of new smells and lots of new things to see every day.

-You will meet your neighbors. If you are outside roaming around your neighborhood morning and night you will meet the people on your block and in your park and may have a richer experience living here than you did without a dog. You will strike up conversations and learn things from people who grew up in your neighborhood! Having a dog helps break the ice and forces you to slow down and see the people around you instead of hurrying from the train to your apt. all the time.

-You will become more in tune with nature. Even in the city there are rich cyclical changes in the environment that you will stop and notice because you are outside several times a day EVERY single day of the year no matter the weather. If you like nature and miss it, your dog will help restore some of the wonder.
posted by catrae at 3:51 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can I bring my dog into stores with me?
Not anywhere that sells food (even Duane Reade), but smaller places like your local bodega might look the other way. You can sit in outdoor seating with your dog at most places, but the dog usually has to be outside the railing.

Will I get tired of all the walking?
Maybe, but mostly just on days that it's shitty out like yesterday. Get a dog that is not super high energy if you want to be able to do shorter walks (Note: some big dogs are lazy and some small dogs need lots of exercise, so size alone is not an indicator).

Do I need a dogwalker for the days I don't take the dog to work?
YES. Budget about $15/walk. Check out references. Do NOT allow group walks.

I'd ask for breed suggestions
Adopt a mutt. Your life is not conducive to a puppy right now, regardless. You need to be able to take a puppy out at least every 2 hours when trying to housetrain. An adult dog (older than 1yr) will be the best bet. A breeder may know a puppy's pedigree, but any particular dog's temperament isn't really known until it starts growing up. With an adult dog, especially one that's been in foster care, you'll know its trainability, its activity level, whether its good with cats, etc.

I have 2 small dogs, and it is convenient that I can throw them in a bag and take the subway, bus, cabs, trains, etc. I can go down the shore or out to the Hamptons without issue. In inclement weather I can take the bus the 10 blocks to the vet rather than walking. And they take up less space in the apartment as well.

Check out for local rescue pups. Bideawee is another great organization in the city. Many of the Petco and Unleashed stores have adoption events regularly, and there are annual/semi-annual superadoption events in the area as well.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:51 AM on January 28, 2015

You've gotten a lot of good advice, which I won't repeat. You sound like you'll be a great pet owner. But let me chime in to say you should consider adopting a senior! As many have noted, having a dog can be a nearly two-decade long commitment, but it doesn't have to be. The depth of commitment of having a senior dog isn't any less of course, but the length can be much shorter, so should you want to keep open the possibility of moving to Rome in the future or whatever, you can, while at the same time having the most loving, loyal, gentle, and wonderful companion. Seniors are also super trainable, too, much more so than puppies. (And you should definitely do training, whatever dog you adopt. It is honestly life changing. Memail me for a trainer recommendation if you want one). I could go on all day about how special and awesome seniors are. I hope you think about it.

As far as having a big dog in NYC, it is totally doable, provided you are willing to give your pet the exercise they need. The one issue I was not fully prepared for when we adopted a large (senior) dog was how we would get him non-walkable distances. Many car services in NYC aren't pet friendly at all, and many that are won't take large dogs. We have managed to do ok, mostly through the use of the one livery driver we know who will reliably take our dog and the occasional car rental, but it's something to think about if places you will regularly want to go with your dog aren't walkable.

On boarding, I would keep in mind that boarding over the holidays can be harder than you might think in a city this big. We've always been able to do it, but it is always more difficult than I'd like it to be.

Get a dog walker. Your dog will be happier and healthier for it, and it will give you so much peace of mind to know that he has been taken out, especially if you will ever be even a little bit later than he is used to.

Finally, a plug for Eleventh Hour Rescue in New Jersey. It can be really hard for working people to adopt in NYC, but Eleventh Hour is a wonderful place, and they can help you find the friend that's right for you.
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 5:36 AM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I asked myself these questions for years. I kept putting off getting my first dog. I kept going over lists and thoughts like yours above.

When I finally pulled the trigger and got a dog - in some ways I was not ready, in some ways you are never ready. In other ways, I was over-prepared. Most people don't bother thinking about these things at all. Just thinking this stuff through is a surprisingly high level of preparation.

In the end, I now deeply regret having waited all those years. I love my dogs - they are a wonderful part of life. Why did I deny myself this pleasure for so long?

Do it. Get a dog.
posted by Flood at 6:03 AM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

MeadowlarkMaude makes a great point about senior dogs. My first dog on my own was a sweet senior Maltese girl from a dedicated Maltese rescue in NYC. People sometimes hesitate about seniors because they worry about illness or the dog passing away, but this dog was the most life-affirming little creature I've ever encountered. She was only with me for three years, but those three years were amazing. Everyone adopting for the first time should consider a senior. Senior dogs know, you know?

Also NYC is fine for dogs of all sizes, but I went small and it was a good choice for me. My Maltese weighed in at six pounds, maybe seven, and if I zipped in her airline carrier she could go anywhere, even coffee shops. I was able to take her into most retail shops in my neighborhood (Park Slope) in just a tote bag, and the bus, too. (Don't try this on the subway. Metro North's rules are friendlier, though.)
posted by mochapickle at 6:44 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you and your partner are considering having kids in the next few years then under no circumstances should you get a dog. If kids are totally off the table, go for it. If you're not sure, then try to figure that out before you get a dog. My .001 cents.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:19 AM on January 28, 2015

I can bring a dog to work.

Can I bring my dog into stores with me?

I am a dog lover, to the nth degree, and have had many dogs in my life. However, I cannot stand encountering other people's schmoopie moopie my-little-darling-just-can't-be-weft-alone when I am in stores. It's unsanitary. There are people in the world with legitimate allergies to dogs. It is sometimes unsafe for small children (depending on both the dog and the child). I sometimes encounter dogs in the course of my work (I am in public a lot) and though they be darling, they are damn distracting when it comes time to try to get actual work or negotiations done. I would irritated as all hell if there was a dog in my office 60% of the time, but I would probably feel like I had to shut my mouth and smile rather than complain. Please do not count on having your dog with you in public at all times. If that's your plan, it may not be a great time to get a dog. Get your dog fix by working at an animal shelter, or by doing dog-sitting.
posted by vignettist at 8:19 AM on January 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

I had a really big dog in Montreal for years. He was a Bouvier, 100 pounds of shaggy dog. So no throwing him in a bag.

He was fine in the apartment when I went to work. He wasn't a barky dog. He just slept most of the day. Bouviers are low energy indoors, high energy out of doors. No accidents, no destruction. For a dog, the apartment is just an extremely large den. If you have a cat, then if your dog is lonely, he can go pester the cat.

Convenience stores in Montreal do not seem to mind well-mannered large dogs. (He was VERY well-mannered.) In New York, I took him into pharmacies and never got any flak, but I never asked, either. I did not take him into restaurants or coffee shops.

However, I had a car. I could take him to the vet in the car. If I had had to carry 100 pounds of sick dog, that would have been rough. And helping him up the stairs when he was old and his hind legs didn't work that well was tough.

We're thinking about getting a Portuguese Water Dog now. They're medium sized dogs.
posted by musofire at 8:20 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you would be a very responsible dog owner. I second the idea of fostering first though, mainly to get your partner on board before making the big commitment to adopt. I am also in my late twenties and live with my boyfriend who was not enthusiastic about my idea to adopt a dog (we already had two cats) so we just occasionally fostered puppies for our local humane society. When we were ready to adopt about a year later, the fostering experience helped us decide what kind of dog would be the best fit for us and our cats. We adopted a two year old retriever mix (about 45 lbs) who was mellow but still playful. She is used to us being gone for 9 hours during the work day, as would most adult dogs.
posted by Katie8709 at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2015

If you and your partner are considering having kids in the next few years then under no circumstances should you get a dog. If kids are totally off the table, go for it. If you're not sure, then try to figure that out before you get a dog. My .001 cents.

Why? This advice makes no sense to me and isn't helpful.
posted by shesbenevolent at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2015

If you and your partner are considering having kids in the next few years then under no circumstances should you get a dog. If kids are totally off the table, go for it. If you're not sure, then try to figure that out before you get a dog. My .001 cents.

Why? This advice makes no sense to me and isn't helpful.

This makes absolute perfect sense to me. Dogs tend to get ignored or at least way less attention when there are small babies around. They tend to get segregated more in an effort to keep the baby safe, or to keep the area where the baby is now inhabiting clean. Bringing a baby into the mix can cause the dog undue stress and cause behavioral problems where there may have been none before, for which the family then decides that they need to re-home the dog. It's both unfair to the dog and not easy to boot. Better off to get a dog when the kids can be taught safety around animals, and how to treat the dog kindly and with compassion.
posted by vignettist at 11:31 AM on January 28, 2015

If you are not sure if you are ready for dog ownership, talk to local rescues about fostering a dog. You get to see if a dog truly fits in with your current lifestyle, you give a dog a nice life while it waits to find it's forever home and you help out a rescue. Either you find out dogs are not for you, but you know you won't have this responsibility for forever, or you love the idea and become a foster "failure" and keep the dog OR when the dog has gone to it's forever home, you now know more what you are looking for in your forever dog.
posted by wwax at 11:05 AM on January 29, 2015

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