December 19, 2014

personal post: being a fur-parent

This post is so out of my beauty blog but I recently read an article that pets are the most gifted ones during the Holidays, and I wanted to share with you something personal to maybe help you think twice before grabbing that cute puppy or kitty to take home. Yes, this brings joy to your home or to the person you are gifting them to. And it is the greatest feeling giving the pet a home. The big problem with this though is how most do not think of this in the long run. Pets are a lifelong commitment that will change your lifestyle. There are tons of articles out there to help you to decide if you are ready for one or which dog is perfect for you so I will not be talking about that. I'm here to share with you what happens in-between those pet selfies we take as it is not always play-cuddle-be cute-eat and play again. 

This will be about my personal experience with my three fur babies. Every pet owner goes through different situations and experiences with their pets that a self-help book or an article can't help you with. I hope by sharing this with you will help you do a double take and ask yourself again if you are really ready to live with a pet, now, in a month or two or in 10 years. 

We live in a one-bedroom floor of our two-family house. It's a crowded house having three pets living with us. I call it my own circus since there's never a dull day here. Everyday is a different thing with these li'l ones! Their puppy stages were the most stressful part, especially when we got Keiko. Her breed, Shiba Inu is a very stubborn breed, which we knew would be a challenge for us. We both were prepared for that and together we thought we can handle her, she's a small dog! We thought wrong, this girl owns us! Being first time dog owners we went to two Puppy classes because we had problems walking her and she loved to pick up cigarette butts on the sidewalk! Hubby and I were both working when we took her home so we would come home every night to a new surprise from Keiko. Even after crate training her, she would still have accidents around the house. There were a lot of late nights that hubby would take her out for a walk because she refuses to go on the pee pad. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, she doesn't care. If we don't, we would wake up to a puddle by the door. 

Two years after having her, she developed allergies to grass, trees, pollen, dust..and everything else in the air! She has been taking different medicine for it for four years now. We have seen two allergy specialists to get her tested and see what allergy vaccine is best for her. In-between that we have gone to her Vet a lot of times a year because she would have problems with her eye or an ear infection or skin rash or something else which just all of a sudden develops and have no clue what the cause is. 

It definitely breaks my heart that my baby girl is going through all of this but she has been a very strong one and still smiling. All these problems were so unexpected and I do not recall reading about Shiba Inus getting all these. I don't think this is a specific breed problem either, any pets can develop an ear infection or allergies! 

Even going through that with Keiko, hubby insisted to get a German Shepherd for security purposes. He always wanted one and after reading about this very smart breed, taking care of a german shepherd should be easier than Keiko. We decided I stay home full-time when we brought him home since he will need a lot of outside time for exercise. We go out in our backyard/ driveway 3-4 times a day to get his exercise. I do not really walk him outside the house because he is a barker and very protective of me. Once he turned one, he developed an aggressive behavior and we had a hard time controlling him because he is half my size by then. We had to take him to Bootcamp to get trained, and meet our trainer every weekend after that 1-week bootcamp. 

Young dogs are very energetic and curious about everything, but as they get older they eventually mellow down. A male german shepherd puppy though has that strong protective instinct developing in him. We have to do a proper introduction of our friends and family relatives who visits so he knows they're not intruders. We do want him to be protective of us but for our neighbors and other people's safety we'd rather do our exercises in the back of the house. 

Winston has been a very chill cat. Ever since we got him, he knew where his litter box is; his water and food bowls. He is the alpha of the three as he is the eldest. We made sure the two dogs know that, as they both got bigger than him. Now he cuddles and naps with Major in the bedroom. He recently developed a food allergy since he is now in his Senior age range. The food we get for him is prescribed only. We are also keeping an eye on his kidneys since kidney failure is a common illness with older cats. 

Our lifestyle has definitely changed after having the three of them home. We don't stay out late because of the dog's potty and feeding schedule. We haven't gone out of town for a vacation because we do not trust any dog sitters or friends to watch them (*no offense but they are a plenty to take care of!). Financially, we have sacrificed some other things so we can meet their needs. They have our hearts and so we do whatever we can to make them feel better and happy.

I did not want this to be a depressing post but this is the truth of having pets at home. They do make us smile and feel very loved every single day. They are the most loyal companions and cuddlier than a stuffed teddy bear, but we also have our hardships and very stressful moments. 

We have learned it is not just them that gets trained in the process but us too as their handlers and the alphas of this family. You learn to be un-selfish because they depend on you. You learn to be patient because getting mad at them doesn't do anything because they love you no matter what. You learn to share because they love to cuddle with you in bed. And lastly, you learn to embrace pet hair every where! No matter how much vaccumming you do a shedder does not stop shedding, and no clothes nor socks nor towel will be 100% pet hair free. 

So before you look into those puppy and kitty eyes, have you asked yourself again - are you really ready for this? Are you prepared to take care of another life besides your own?