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Are you dying to bring a sweet canine into your life? Today, our resident blogger, Joy, is here to offer a few tidbits and things to consider before taking the leap (because it’s a big one!)…

I adopted my dog, Juniper, right before my 23rd birthday. Nearly four years later, she is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Luckily, I should add, because I didn’t think it entirely through. Owning a dog is a huge responsibility; it’s not just the walks and the vet expenses – it’s much, much more. If you have the puppy fever, set it aside and be honest with yourself when considering the following:

Routine. Are you a person who likes routine and has one already? Establishing a schedule with your new pup will be hugely important in creating a happy, stable environment for Fido. Bonus: there will be something for you to gain, too! Study after study show the endless physiological and psychological benefits from hitting the pavement every day with your furry canine, from managing stress to overcoming depression.

Take a look at your lifestyle. Do you enjoy long, leisurely walks on a weekend? Do you wish you had a warm, furry friend to cuddle with when you’re sick? Great! On the contrary, do you travel often, or spend hours away from home? Is there a park nearby, or place for your four-legged friend to play with others? Take a look at your current lifestyle and imagine it with a dog by your side.

Compromise. No longer can I take a spontaneous weekend away – I have to coordinate dog care for Juniper. I said goodbye to ever owning a jacket that won’t have a few of her hairs stuck to it, and when she was a puppy, Juniper chewed up my absolute favorite pair of leather boots. You make constant compromises when you have a dog in your life – often ones that you don’t expect. Of course, the love for your beloved pet will override the inconvenience of these hiccups, but it’s important to be realistic with yourself when deciding whether or not you can live with them.

And the biggest one: Responsibility (and one that lasts upwards of 15 years!). If you feel ready to take care of another living being, owning a dog is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling life experiences. One thing that I didn’t know? How much of a daily societal responsibility it is. You will be interacting with other dog owners, facilitating your dog’s socialization, and responding to all sorts of situations. And most importantly: you set the tone for how your puppy reacts, understands, and responds to these situations. Every day, your dog will be looking to you. That, I think, is an immense responsibility, and one not to be taken lightly.

Good luck! Whether you already have plans to go to the shelter, or have just started entertaining the idea of a furry friend, we are rooting for you!