A starter pack for your new journey

A starter pack for your new journey

Am I ready to adopt? Which dog should I get?A list of things you ought to know before you get a pup home.

Resist those puppy eyes!

The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine and Pippi decided to join the conversation. Startled by his barks and probably itching to ask this for a long time, she went — “What do I need to know before I get a dog home? It’s getting lonelier by the day.” That question stumped me. What would I, who never answered this question myself when any of my four dogs came into my life, tell her? Over time, I have learnt a thing or two about how best to care for our dogs. But, there is always something new to learn with every dog! Her question was a genuine call for help. 

Pandemic puppies are real. With Covid-19, people across the world are increasingly socially isolated and bored. Some are turning to dogs and bringing home puppies for companionship and to entertain their forced-to-sit-at-home kids. However, animal shelters are apprehensive about this trend, shuddering to think what the fate of these puppies would be when life tends towards the new normal — whatever that means. Will they be abandoned later? Is this a short-lived Instagram trend? Are people genuinely falling in love with dogs this year? Who knows! I pushed these questions aside and got thinking. After some thought, I narrowed down to three important questions one should ask oneself to determine if one is ready to take the plunge.

Cute, but exhausting 

“Am I sure I want a dog?” Dogs are for a lifetime, either ours or theirs. For all the joys they bring, it's only fair that we stay with them till the end. Life changes, we move cities or have families and for most pet parents, each of these decisions involves the dog too. But, not everyone who gets a dog thinks through it all — the puppy face is too cute to say no! It is only later that some unfortunate dogs get abandoned and meet horrific ends. Having depended on the family for food all their life, these dogs can’t scavenge or defend themselves, often enduring a lot before the inevitable. No dog deserves this. 

“Am I ready for a puppy?” Puppies are cute and playful, but also a lot of work! They run, jump, nip, play and put all their antics on display and we melt away. But, just like babies, they need food many times a day and their tiny bladders mean frequent pee and poop walks. As they learn where to do their business, which may take a good four-six months, accidents at home are common. Teething is a phase where your furniture, remote, books, shoes or just about anything you cherish, could turn into shreds! 

Although not the favourite choice for most people, adult dogs are easy-peasy. Hands down, my vote goes to them. These dogs take longer to settle in, but once they do, life's a breeze. They design their own schedule for the day, find a spot to laze and most don't need potty training. Of course, a lot of it depends on how they grew up. 

“Which dog should I get?” The answer can be fraught with many myths, misconceptions and stereotypes that surround dog breeds. Humans played God and created breeds with specific traits, but every dog has its own personality. Past interactions shape much of a dog’s behaviour; abuse, fear, trauma and neglect can scar dogs for life. Hence, any dog that you fall in love with, is the best breed. To me, Indies have a special allure. Having naturally evolved, with the best genes, they are hardy, easy to look after and are no-fuss. What’s more, they love you just like any other dog does.

All said, the best starter pack involves you and your dog! 

Tailspin is your monthly column on everything that’s heartwarming and annoying about pet parenting.

The writer is a science communicator and mom to Pippi, a four-year-old rescued Indie, who is behind her drive to understand dogs better. She tweets at @RamanSpoorthy.