Mefites who don't want kids: did you ever go puppy-crazy?
March 13, 2017 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Thirty-two year old female who has absolutely never wanted kids. But I'm going puppy crazy and really want to get a dog now. Has anyone ever gone through this?

Background: I grew up with dogs (my parents) and always imagined having a dog when I was an adult but apartment living then having too many cats (my Siamese was not tolerant of dogs) put the brakes on that.

My Siamese passed away in December and I have owned my own home for years now. I still have two cats but they're much more adaptable and when my mom's large dog stayed the night they still roamed the house (unlike my Siamese who decided he would just live INSIDE the bed, not just under it).

Since my last question I posted regarding getting my house into shape, I've completed transformed the house inside and out. My yard is beautiful, the amount of junk I've donated or tossed could fill a few dumpsters, and I've gone about painting and rearranging rooms. Im very pleased with the process of my house and feel that I could definitely puppy proof areas, have an organized living space and areas for my kitties to feel safe (my cats have two rooms just for them including one that already has a baby gate on it since one of my cats can't jump over it and the other can so he has his own room).

The thing is I feel like I'm puppy crazy in the same way women are called baby crazy. I feel like I'm just convincing myself it's a good idea. My husband has never had a dog and his family is anti-dog so he's not any help in this decision. He said if I truly feel it's the best thing to do then I should. His mom says no, that a dog needs a huge backyard and will bark and smell but I never had that experience growing up and she's never had dogs.

I did send a deposit to a breeder of golden retrievers (my favorite breed) for winter puppies and I've spent a couple months now reading all I can on puppy raising, visiting the doggy daycare in the area, watching YouTube videos, contacting people in my communities who own dogs and visit the dog parks etc. I have a strong idea of how I would want to raise the puppy in terms of training, crating, areas of the house to put x-pens in, dog walkers, puppy socials, dog courses, daycare etc.

But I've never myself had a puppy and goldens are a lot of work and I keep second guessing myself because of my mother in law.

Part of me feels this would be my kid as weird as that is and no one would balk at me if I wanted a kid and no one would say it is too much work yet I'm being told by a couple people in my life this is too much work.

Sorry for the rambling. Most my question is:

Have any of you ever decided to get a puppy in lieu of having kids (because you didn't want kids) and did this work out well?
posted by rainygrl716 to Pets & Animals (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I have 3 cats instead of kids (hello cat-lady sterotypes!) and definitely want a dog but my strata (HOA to the most of the world) wont allow me to have any more pets. To be honest, that's probably a good thing otherwise there's a non-zero chance I would also have a pack of dogs to go with my clowder of cats. Fun fact - it my mom buying me a magnet that said "all my kids have paws" for me to realize that's what happened...
posted by cgg at 7:39 PM on March 13

I don't know if I got a dog "in lieu of" having kids, but I don't want kids, I have always wanted a dog and last year after finally being in a very stable financial/work situation I went a little dog-crazy and basically spent four months obsessively searching for the right dog. I too was told by multiple people in my family not to get a dog and that they were too much work, I was completely obsessed and I am glad I ignored them. I now have an adorable three-year old rescue mutt and she is pretty much the best thing in my life.

There was a period of a couple weeks after I got her where I was all "what have I done?! how do we return her?" but that passed and it's the new normal now. I can't comment on a puppy, I'm sure it's a lot more work but people do it all the time.

People now tell me that she's a step toward having children, but if anything I feel she's pushed me even more towards not having kids. She gives me an intense feeling of rewarding "caregiving" but I wouldn't want to be tied down any more. You generally can't give your friends a bottle of wine in exchange for watching your kid for a week while you vacation.

So, in summary, I can't say 100% I am never having kids but I have no desire to and a dog has worked out great for me.
posted by queens86 at 7:44 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]

Yes, I can sort of relate. I absolutely got a puppy when I was 31 - though truthfully, I was trying to get pregnant at the time and it was definitely in part to comfort me, and ease that desire because i wasn't sure I could have bio- kids. But the puppy love/crazy thing you describe felt similar at the moment (I want small cute cuddly thing to love and nurture right now!)

You sound like you would be an amazing dog owner! It's your life, you sound ready in the best way possible. Dogs/puppies need LOTS of exercise, and they are expensive (not as expensive as kids, but still) and I really do think if you feel that puppy crazy, there is no harm in indulging it if you have the right set up. The bond you have with your animals is not at all dissimilar to the one you have with your child (for some people.) And having animals is almost always good for people, provided you can meet basic needs (food, shelter, play, health care, etc).

I did end up pregnant about a year and a half later. So now I have an almost 4 year old husky mix, and an almost 2 year old daughter. It's utter chaos, but they are besties.
posted by Rocket26 at 7:46 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]

Yes. I have had dog fever for the last two years, it hasn't gone away but my living situation isn't that amenable to having a dog right now.

Do it. You're 100% right that if this was a kid no one would be second guessing your decision (to your face, at least). My beloved OB-Gyn told me that she thinks everyone has maternal energy, but that it doesn't have to go to a child; pets, career, family relationships, creative work all benefits from love and care. You've thought it through, have the space, have done the research. Do it!
posted by stellaluna at 7:49 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I did this.

I grew up always kinda suspecting that I didn't want kids, and that feeling solidified as I cruised through my 30s without wanting kids. To be clear, I am pretty sure that my animal-loving tendencies are independent of my child-wanting tendencies. My pets are not replacements for children. They are additional foci for love and learning, and sources of love and learning for me, which (I suspect) would be true whether I had kids or not.

I had had cats, though, and had a kitty when I met Mr Ant (I was 34 at the time). Mr Ant is horrifically allergic to cats. A lot of people who don't like cats claim that they're allergic; Mr Ant likes cats but has to go to the hospital when they get too close to him. When I moved in with Mr Ant in 2005 I sent my cat, the inimitable Rosa Parks, to live out her dotage with my cat-loving mom.

We went a couple of years without a pet when I got puppy fever. I'd never had a dog, and hadn't spent a lot of time around dogs, but I knew I needed an animal in my life. To make a long story short (TOO LATE) we now have two wonderful puppers, one a shelter mutt and the other a rescued lost hunting dog, and we couldn't be happier. I've gotten kinda serious about dogs.

To address YOUR question: puppies are huge pain in the ass. They pee and poop everywhere and have to be taught that their teeth hurt and cause damage. My first puppy (or dog at all!) came home from the shelter with a condition (bladder stones, struvite, treated with prescription diet) that made housetraining really difficult for months. I thought I was doing it wrong, despite being sure I was doing it right. This probably has a lot in common with parenting a human child.

You might be a good candidate to adopt an adult dog, who will provide 99.9% of the joy with .1% of the PITA of a puppy. My mom is generally neutral towards dogs but specifically positive towards mine (did I mention that I am *constantly* training them to be better citizens?). Mr Ant's parents are neutral-negative towards dogs in general, but conveniently they live in another country so their vote doesn't count much. In other words, we had very little familial pushback. That may not be the case with you.

TL;DR: no kids, two dogs (very different from each other). Couldn't be happier. But adopt, don't shop.
posted by workerant at 7:55 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]

that a dog needs a huge backyard

This is just not true. I mean, it's nice to have, and some dogs may need it more than others, but there are so many people who have dogs in tiny apartments with no backyard. I have a 100 pound dog in a two bedroom apartment, no yard. So the fact that you do have a yard, even though it's tiny, is more than a lot of people have.

I think you sound like a great candidate for dog ownership, and I would say go for it, since it sounds like something you really want. (Like you, I don't want kids but cats and dogs seem to be my version of wanting children.)

The only thing I will say is that having a puppy as a first time dog owner can be tough, and yeah, goldens can be very high energy and intelligent dogs, so that means they need a lot of exercise and stimulation. Of course, every dog is different, but one benefit of an adult dog is that you know more what there personality is. I would encourage you to at least consider going to a reputable rescue, and see about getting an adult dog (2 years old or so). IF you can find a dog currently being fostered, that's even better, since they can tell you a lot about what the dog is like. They'll also be able to tell you how the dog does with cats.

(On preview, I see worker ant has also covered the puppy vs adult dog thing.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:59 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]

Yep. Get one. I was 26 when I got my Dane, didn't own my own home, and didn't have a yard. Three years later and we are just as happy as when I brought her home.
posted by Marinara at 8:28 PM on March 13

So here's a totally different perspective, with the obvious caveat that you should do you, 100%.

I'm 35, was ambivalent about kids, broke up with my fiance and long term partner, and went puppy crazy. I got one on my own under possibly less-than-ideal circumstances (grad school, big high energy rescue puppy) and...whoa.

It's been a year. I still have her. I love her. She's sleeping on my feet right now. She's brought some good things into my life (cuddles, friends, fresh air, exercise). She's a sweetie, but realistically, it was kind of a dumb idea and has a ton of negative impact on various aspects of my life, both large (I can't really afford to move out of my shitty apartment to a nicer one, because no cheap, nice apartments allow dogs; I can only really afford to go home once a year because traveling/boarding her is tough) and small (my house is always messier than I'd like it to be; I don't see my friends as much).

And...I feel like this is the point where I say, IT WAS ALL WORTH IT BECAUSE SHE BROUGHT SO MUCH JOY TO MY LIFE. But honestly? If I could go back in time and not get her, knowing she'd have a good life elsewhere, I'd do it in a hot second. All the work, attention, dirt, money, guilt, stress, mess - they just don't balance out. I know they do for other people; they just don't for me. She's mine, I've committed to her, I've got her now - I couldn't give her up, even to a good home, without feeling like I've shirked a deep responsibility, so I don't, and I still have hope that maybe, as the years go by, it'll only get better and better so I may as well hold on. I'm not saying I'll never change my mind, or that I don't get a lot out of her, but in my heart I know I rushed into it, and that getting her was a mistake.

Interesting side effect, though: it 100% solidified my trust in my instinct that kids weren't right for me. I'd read ten million stories of other people being totally transformed by dog ownership, and by all the concrete trouble and worry and stress being completely subsumed by this magical, ineffable, overpowering love. That's not what happened to me, and I realized that I'd been imagining kids in the same way I'd been imagining getting a dog: as something that would transform me into a totally different person than the one I actually am.

I can now imagine me as a parent, just as I now see me as a dog owner. And I can imagine adoring the heck out of my kids, and feeling deeply, deeply bound to them, but also just looking around me, and the circumstances of my life, and feeling a deep, deep regret because of knowing I'd made the wrong choice. Having kids is the right choice for most people, but it's the wrong one for me, just like getting a dog is the right choice for lots of people (including you, maybe!) but was the wrong thing for me.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:29 PM on March 13 [15 favorites]

I did this a few years ago. I just neeeeeeded a puppy. I love my dog so much. She is the best dog ever. But I will NEVER EVER get a puppy again. They are soooooo much work. They won't let you sleep! They pee and poop everywhere! They chew on all of the things! I was miserable and at one point almost gave her to my mother. And I am someone who grew up with dogs and did all the research before hand and thought I knew what I was getting into.

Puppy is grown now and I got her a friend: a three year old already house trained dog whose owner had died. The difference between a puppy and a grown dog is amazing. He fit right in immediately and was fun right from the first day of getting him.
posted by ilovewinter at 9:10 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]

Fur babies are a real thing, so don't worry about that.

Are you flexible on the breed? If the maintenance of a Golden Retriever is keeping your from deciding, consider breeds that aren't so demanding.
posted by rhizome at 9:52 PM on March 13

Well, I had a kid. But I get the same kind of indecision you're having, so I can tell you the answer I've come to for myself. Being an adult means doing whatever the heck you want as long as you're prepared to responsibly handle the consequences.
- If the dog is too much work, threatening to break up your marriage, or miserable without a big backyard, will you be able to return the dog to the breeder?
- If the dog destroys part of your beautiful home or makes it smell, are you prepared to pay for the repairs?
- Can you comfortably afford vet insurance and other costs of caring for the dog?
- Are you prepared to deal with your MIL's annoyance and/or "I told you so"s?

If yes, then it doesn't matter if it's some strange biological imperative or any of that. Just make the best decision you can and be prepared to live with the consequences.
posted by slidell at 10:32 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]

I've never wanted kids, had a few dogs come in and out of my life, but have always been a dog person. Unfortunately, after my divorce and working 2-3 jobs, I didn't think I'd be able to care for a dog even with owning my own house and having a fenced yard and pretending to be a responsible adult. 2 years ago, my parents had a deposit on a puppy who was born this week of March, and I was roped into house-training in May 2015 and Winston (the CUTEST Boston) and I bonded. I would come home to visit and he came to visit me. During this time, my mom was very sick and in and out of the hospital, so Winston had kind of a tough first part of his life: he was very much loved, but didn't get a lot of attention or discipline. I convinced my parents that Winston should move to be with me "until mom gets better," knowing full well that my mom wasn't coming out of the hospital. They agreed, and after my mom died, dad said "I can't take care of a puppy; do you want him or should I take him back to his breeder to be rehomed?"

At 7 months, a relatively intelligent dog with absolutely no training other than being housetrained and crated came to live with me; it was a learning experience and I have cared for/owned dogs previously. Getting him socialized and willing to listen (Bostons have a stubborn streak) and not chew/eat everything in my house (shoes, clothes, electronics, he fished a shaving razor out of my shower, etc.) has been the work of not just myself, but my friends, my coworkers, my dog walker, his leaders and friends at daycare...and all because he missed some vital instruction early in his life. Yesterday he had a rough day at daycare, so I received *that* message when picking him up. Oh and that's not even getting into "I'm going to lay in the bed with you...oh I don't feel good *dog vomits everywhere*" or working through his protein and environmental allergies. It is like having a toddler to an extent; you're saying "no" a lot (and they pout when you do) and redirecting a lot of their attention at the same time you're trying to teach and understand a sentient being who can't communicate with you all that well.

It has taken a lot of work; I quit my part-time job to spend more time with him, and I don't have as robust a social life as I used to, and that's okay with me. He travels with me most of the time, but I make arrangements to travel with dog and sometimes it's more expensive or I have to alter my itenerary.

I wouldn't change it for the world. He's snuggled up to me right now, and we've celebrated his birthday with a big piece of salmon and some yogurt and a Jolly Ball and lots of extra walks (doing off-leash work now, finally!). So I am Dog Mom now, and everyone is like "ermagerd now have human children" and I'm like "no thanks; this is the level of responsibility I'm comfortable with." But PUPPIES are a lot of work. At 2 years old this week he is starting to get the hang of being a dog and not a puppy. Think about finding a dog via rescue or someone that needs to rehome their dog. Winston, being a Boston, doesn't really smell or shed, and if you didn't see the 10 billion toys or food dishes or wading pool (don't judge me), you'd never know I had a dog. But, I do have to clean way more than pre-dog. Robot vacuum is your friend, but your dog will be your best friend; we try to do most everything together, and my only regret is that I can't spend *more* time with him.

TL;DR - make sure your husband is on board, maybe look for a dog and not a puppy, and maybe look for the first dog one that doesn't have a tremendous amount of upkeep? I wish you so much luck; it's such a fun adventure!
posted by sara is disenchanted at 1:58 AM on March 14

I'm 35, my partner and I are 99.9% sure we don't want children, and I am absolutely puppy mad at this point. I spend a lot of time every day thinking about getting a puppy.

We live in an apartment that doesn't allow dogs and we travel a lot, so my SO is semi-against it. I can't get a doggo until we move. But the nice thing about dogs vs. kids is that there's no time limit. I told myself I'd get a dog by 50; can't wait until 50 to have a kid!
posted by tippy at 4:35 AM on March 14

I'm totally broody about animals. I worry I'll dogsnatch outside a supermarket one day, like a baby-crazy lady in a daytime drama. I have never wanted kids, and now it's very very difficult for me to do so.

It's not practical for us as we rent (near impossible to rent with pets in this country, especially dogs, most leases forbid pets), live in a flat, and both work full-time, so it's really frustrating.
posted by mippy at 5:05 AM on March 14

You seem really keen on the getting a puppy from a breeder thing (and I see you've already put down a deposit), but I'm wondering if it's because it's a clear path that allows you to do a lot of thinky obsessive research about the fuzz faced object of your desire... and because you're new to dog ownership as an adult and getting some unwarranted pushback that's making you anxious. Fostering dogs and puppies is a thing, and it's a way to try out all things dog without committing permanently to having a dog. That was always my plan, as a person who sort of fits your description, but instead we looked into foster orgs and then adopted young adolescent dogs out of foster. I never really felt like a dog was my surrogate baby plan, though. Just a creature I was adding to my household to fill the dog-shaped hole in it.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:19 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

Obviously I don't know you but please please don't get a puppy from a breeder, and don't get a golden retriever puppy as your first dog! I looooove dogs but goldens are too much for me; they're big and have lots of hair. Do you like any smaller breeds? Can you check Petfinder and see if there are any cuties who need a home in your area? Starting with a fully trained dog is a million times easier and better than a puppy, plus you never have to be sad when they grow out of the cute phase. I have had puppies and rescues and I will never ever ever have a puppy again. It's really intense.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:26 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]

One of my sisters told someone, "All the women in our family, at a certain stage, get a small dog." Small because we grew up with small terriers, I think. I definitely got my Boston Terrier when it looked like I wouldn't be having kids. A Boston, or a French Bulldog, can basically be as much work as a cat. If a Golden is what you want, though, they won't fill that hole.
posted by BibiRose at 6:32 AM on March 14

The urge to nurture another life can manifest in different ways. Wanting a puppy instead of kids is totally normal.

My partner and I don't want kids, but we still want to *teach* kids... as well as have cats and (eventually) a dog. (My partner is a bit dog-crazy, but we can't adopt until we upgrade to a bigger house.)
posted by Wossname at 7:06 AM on March 14

I think I'm going through this a little bit as well -- there's a chance I'll be moving to a rural area for a new job, and I'm seriously thinking of getting a dog once I'm settled, so all the replies here have been truly helpful!

I can tell you that I would definitely, for myself, look to rescuing an adult or adolescent dog; in large part because I've never owned a dog and would like to start in Easy Mode. I prefer big dogs, but to be honest, you couldn't pay me to have a Golden Retriever. A good friend of mine has one and I play with him fairly regularly. I love this dog more than I love most of my family members. This dog loves me with a pureness that I cannot comprehend but that makes my life a thousand times better. Goldens are hard though. Harder than most people understand, I think. After talking with my friend, I will continue to look at her Golden with heart-eyes, and probably never own one.

(Also...look, I don't want to be judgy. You do what's best for you. But there are so many perfect puppers who need rescuing, I cannot, for myself, ever see getting a dog from a breeder. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Newfoundlands, but I would never buy one. Rescue one, maybe, but being honest with myself, I'll likely go to a local dog rescue place and wait to fall in love with something utterly ridiculous. This has the added bonus of getting an idea of he dog's personality, needs, etc. I am a little cautious about owning a dog, but I KNOW I am not ready to own a puppy. And I want to rescue my new best buddy.)
posted by kalimac at 7:12 AM on March 14

If I were you and really on the fence about this, I would adopt a small older dog. An elderly chihuahua will love a smallish yard, will love YOU, and it's not a decades-long commitment. Also, they like to sleep a lot, and they respond very well to training cues, so your life will be much easier than with a baby golden!!

After some time with the older adopted dog, then maybe consider the puppy. I would add to the chorus of people saying please don't buy a dog from a breeder--there are plenty of breed-specific rescue organizations, and you'll save so much money (not to mention a dog's life, etc. etc.)

If it's about the cuteness--golden puppies really are VERY ADORABLE, omg--it could help to reframe your perspective and remind yourself that it is possible to appreciate the beauty or cuteness of something (whether it's an animal or a person or an object or a home) without needing to have it. I've had a lot of intermittent longing for a baby, for a beautiful home, and other things that life just might not have in store for me. But I feel better if I can meet babies and puppies and be with them in that moment and resist the whirlpool of want and envy.

To answer your actual question: yes, and it seems there are a number of people for whom dog ownership cemented and affirmed feelings of not wanting to have kids. For myself and my two dogs, if I come home from work and I'm frazzled and it's all I can do to get their food ready and spend some time throwing a ball, I thank my lucky stars that all I have to do next is cuddle them. I don't have to drive them to soccer practice or make sure they're reading at grade level or get in arguments about whether it is bathtime. There's still all the poop and stuff, but the rest is nonverbal expressions of affection and trust, and it's really lovely.*

*this is not to say that kids aren't lovely, just. you know what I mean.
posted by witchen at 7:26 AM on March 14

Have any of you ever decided to get a puppy in lieu of having kids (because you didn't want kids) and did this work out well?

Yes, and yes.
posted by Windigo at 8:20 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]

I grew up in a cat household, and I have a cat now, and my [girlfriend at the time/now wife] has cats.

and then one day I wanted a dog. I went to the shelter and picked out an old lady dog who was 9 at the time, and who is still with us today at age 12 and still nuclear powered dumb dingo. [photos of said dumb dingo]

I own a home with a very small back yard but that doesn't matter, she doesn't want to be outside without me anyway. She doesn't stink, she doesn't shed much, and she came pre-trained and certified cat-friendly.

I think a puppy would have driven me NUTS. Adjusting to being a dog owner with a well-adjusted normal dog was a big enough task. I can't imagine having to have dealt with all the puppy stuff as my first intro to dog ownership.

I think you get the point I'm leading to here: consider adopting an existing dog that suits your lifestyle, home environment, and existing pets. It's not like you'll love it any less than your theoretical puppy, and you'll save yourself a lot of stress (and save a dog from the shelter at the same time).

Barring that, though: if you've really and truly got the puppy fever then go get that pupper.
posted by komara at 9:02 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]

For a related perspective: I don't want kids and occasionally I think about getting a dog, because I'd really like a pet and some dogs are so cute and amusing, and my partner is less allergic to dogs than he is to cats, but then I think about all the work that goes into them and boarding them when you go on a vacation and all the literal crap you pick up every day and I remind myself no, I am not a dog person.

So, you say your husband is not a dog person. Would he pet the dog sometimes? (Dogs never seem to get it when someone isn't into them.) Are you okay with all dog care falling on you? Literally all of it? Are you assuming your husband will walk the dog and pick up its crap sometimes? What about if you're incapacitated for a week, would he do it then? What if he doesn't like the dog and gets annoyed that the dog is always there when you're watching TV or that you now want to take dog-friendly vacations? Etc. etc.
posted by purple_bird at 9:13 AM on March 14

My husband and I don't have kids and while we never went puppy crazy, we had strange year in 2011 where we went from never having dogs in our lives to falling very deeply and suddenly into rescuing and fostering adult dogs.

It has been a lot of work but also incredibly rewarding, especially to give a loving home and structure and training to dogs that have been thrown away like garbage by other people.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:23 AM on March 14

I knew I would get responses that discourage buying from a breeder and that is totally fair.

I actively reached out to many rescue organizations and was in the running for a couple golden rescues (they had socialization issues but I was still ready to accept them). The last one went to a couple who had been on the list prior to me and I broke down and cried losing out on him.

I need a dog that is vetted for cats and a huge portion of the breeds I am interested in from rescues aren't. I feel in love with a Pyrenees mix at the humane society but he wasn't compatible with cats.

That's when I turned my attention toward puppies as I can socialize them during the most important period of their development (up to 12 weeks cements many of the attitudes they hold for life). The breeder aspect is because I'm getting a known quantity from a reputable source. I've also always desired a golden as I know they can be trained to be what I consider the ideal fit for me. I love their personality and zest for life.

My husband would definitely fall in love and be very affectionate toward the dog despite not being a dog person. My moms large shepherd mix had spent time in our home staying a few days and he loved sitting on the couch with the dog watching TV. It would be work for my husband to understand that a dog needs firm and consistent training but that comes from his inexperience with raising dogs and I've already found great classes and trainers I'm interested in to educate both of us. He would be part of the classes and open to that. I think it would help my husband out as we are both people who don't travel with no real friends and the chance to engage in activities like puppy socials, training classes, dog parks would help my husband socialize as well.

We actually don't have much furniture and what we do have is "well worn" from our cats. We have a formal dining room and formal living room that has basically no furniture but an exercise bike, a bench and a computer desk. We also have four bedrooms and two are cat rooms with another having shelves and some dolls I've collected. There's nothing of much value we own. We use speakers that are two decades old as side tables just to give another example. Our carpets are sad having been well utilized by our cats but I do shampoo and clean them. The house isn't dirty, we just never made spending money on nice "stuff" a priority. What we have works.

The reason I'm on the fence is I know I will drastically change our lives if I do decide to do this. The work involved in raising a puppy is immense and while I feel a thrill at the challenge I know no matter how much I research and prepare, I won't know until I experience the true nature of the responsibility.
posted by rainygrl716 at 10:21 AM on March 14

Well, I tell you what: it sounds like you've thought this through way more than most people who just pick up a puppy on a whim. Go ahead and do it. You'll be fine.
posted by komara at 10:41 AM on March 14

I decided not to have kids at the age of 8. In my mid twenties I got my first child substitute a Maltese cross, she was introduced to my mother as her first Grandchild. I knew it was a child substitute, I called it that my family joked with me and she was wonderful & glorious and we had great adventures together until she died from cancer. When I got married my husband and I got 2 dogs, introduced them to his skeptical parents as their first grandchildren and now 8 years later they've come to terms with it.

I know they're not actually my kids. But they fill that emotional void in me. I love my niece & nephew I love kids, I just don't want to have any so my dogs (aquarium & the wild birds in my garden) are it. I get to care for something which is always emotionally satisfying, they seem to care for me & my husband. We think it's worked out great, we got rescue dogs with issues and working on those to help the dogs become fun loving & affectionate dogs has been extremely satisfying too.
posted by wwax at 10:48 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

You might want to volunteer to be a foster home for your local Golden Retriever rescue. Foster homes are always welcome.
You will find out if goldens are the right fit for you. If you find out the dog(s) you foster are actually perfect you will be able to adopt, if not, then you've provided a safe, loving home until a forever home comes along. Or, you might find out you get a lot of satisfaction in being that safe spot for awhile and then fostering a new dog after a break.
posted by IpsoFacto at 11:53 AM on March 14

Well shoot OP, I think I owe you an apology re your husband. It sounds like you have thought this through really well. I understand that you're nervous about the tremendous amount of work involved with a puppy, but how long does that part last? Can you do anything hard for that long? I bet you can.
posted by purple_bird at 1:35 PM on March 14

Yup, I'm totally puppy crazy. For me, I think it's more about the desire to raise and nurture than a human baby replacement. I'm looking forward to when my life is more settled in order to get a Samoyed puppy (a high-maintenance breed that will be a shit-ton of work, that I'll get from a breeder, that people love to try to talk me out of, that I've researched the bejeezus out of, and is happening in the future).

You're doing a lot of research and you've found a breed that you're crazy about. Any puppy is going to be a lot of work but, like you've said, you'll put in the time, train, socialize the dog, and set lifelong habits. All good!

You have cats so you get the hair all over the place and in your food and you've dealt with the cats chewing on stuff they shouldn't have. It's the same with a dog, you'll redirect his/her chewing habits much easier than with cats, but you'll have him/her bringing in outside dirt and stuff into the house (you can train your dog to accept a paw wipe-down if you're worried about more dirt on the carpet).

The other thing I'd say is no matter how much you've read about training the puppy, just expect stuff to go wrong, expect yourself to feel overwhelmed, and remember that if the dog isn't understanding a command, that you just need to be patient, confirm that your voice and body language are in sync and keep on trying. And, if it's still not working, read up more on it and ask your dog trainer.

Good luck! Come back and share pictures when you have the little pupper!
posted by vivzan at 3:15 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

Maybe you could become a dog sitter first (

Becoming a dog-sitter could let you interact with dogs, but in a more temporary way. Your husband might also come around once he understands what taking care of a dog entails.
posted by jeenmal112 at 12:17 AM on March 25

update photos to anyone interested

We have had our amazing guy for a month and a half and it has changed everything about our lives. My husband adores him, my mom and my relationship has improved to levels it has never been before (she absolutely loves him like a grandson) and it has pushed my husband and I to do more with our lives (we never went out before, had no real focus, never were motivated to fix up things or enjoy what we have).

Yes it's incredibly hard work and he's not always easy (he's just a baby in land shark mode so of course he's not easy), but I wouldn't change my decision at all!
posted by rainygrl716 at 8:23 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]

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