DO YOU HAVE THE TIME?
Having a pet is a huge responsibility. At least, that’s what my parents always told me. Over and over. We always had dogs growing up, so I knew this to be true. I didn’t realize how true, however, until I got my own dog and didn’t have siblings to help with the care (such as my brother was oh so busily helping care for our family dog in the picture above…) or a parent to foot the vet bill.
I knew when I got Elsie it would mean picking up an extra shift to cover dog food, and going home to let her out and walk her instead of going out at night. I was ready for the responsibility. I have talked to several people, especially college students, trying to make the decision of if they have the time for pet ownership, and this is what I’ve told them:
Start by looking for dog-sitting or dog-walking opportunities. I personally have had times where I’ve had to call a friend and see if I could drop Elsie off for the afternoon if maintenance was going to be in my apartment, or ask someone to swing by and let her out if I get stuck at work.
I have friends who will dog sit in town, especially for professors going out of town on business or to work on research. They get paid, and they get their dog fix. Doing this can give you an idea of the time commitment required, and if you think dog-parenting is a fit for you.
Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, Last Hope Animal Rescue in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids all look for volunteers. If volunteering a few hours a week is too much, you probably don’t have time for a dog.
The bonus is that you can learn a lot about training and vet care, especially if you didn’t grow up with dogs. Volunteers who are active and have been with the Iowa City Animal Shelter for a while even have the opportunity to take dogs to local dog training classes.
If that goes well, offer to foster for the shelters. This will give you a real idea of if you have the time and if pet parenting is right for you- you may change your mind when they chew up your $200 pair of hiking boots. And who knows, maybe one of your foster’s will end up being your forever pup!