I used to work 10-hour shifts at a newspaper, which meant my then 1-year-old dog Ace spent 11 hours home alone on my work days.
I lived just close enough so I was (barely) able to get home to let him out during my break.
Ace seemed to do just fine with this routine.
I had specifically chosen to adopt a laid-back, potty-trained dog because I knew I would be gone a lot. I knew I needed a calm dog, that a puppy wasn’t right for me.
I also made sure to exercise Ace for an hour every single morning before work. While he was a mellow dog, he was still young and deserved my time. After a good walk or run, he was always content to lounge around until I returned.
Here he is at my grandparents’ house in 2007 – just a kid! (2019 update: Ace has passed away.)
Our money and our time
Yes, dogs require a lot of our time. And they require a lot of our money, too. We all know that.
But sometimes there is an attitude out there that people don’t deserve a dog if they work full time or if they don’t make a certain amount of money.
Unfortunately, certain rescue groups will even reject families from adopting a dog if everyone in the family works outside the home or goes to school full time.
There are also wonderful adoption groups that are not so picky, but this type of “high and mighty” attitude is all too common in the dog world, and it’s not helpful.
Yes, you deserve a dog too
I recently read a blog post called “Working? Struggling? Yes, you ‘deserve’ a dog too” by Jen deHaan at DogThusiast.com, which is a blog I regularly follow.
Jen’s post touched on these issues in such a thoughtful way that I decided I’d share it with you.
“I used to work all day long at a corporate job,” she wrote, in the post.
“I did a lot of adjustment of my work/life balance prior to adopting Mikey [her dog at the time, pictured below], but I didn’t leave my job altogether or ask to work from home … I made sure to go home on time. But I still had to work, and no, I did not feel guilty about it.”
Sounds pretty similar to my arrangement with Ace, doesn’t it?
Articles that suggest working families don’t deserve their dogs or shouldn’t adopt a dog to begin with do nothing to help keep dogs in their homes, Jen wrote. These articles also do nothing to find homes for dogs in need.
“ … the good news is so many dogs do well, despite being left at home during a day,” she wrote. “And if they don’t there are many ways to solve this problem.”
Jen also wrote about some personal examples of how life throws you surprises, and you can’t always plan for everything. People lose jobs, for example. Or they change careers.
“I ran into some extreme hardship right after we adopted a couple of cats,” Jen wrote.
“My husband lost his job, and I was still in school. He managed to find a new, but much lower paying job that sometimes made us wait to cash the check. What did we do? We ate ramen noodles for a couple of years and bought the best cat food we could afford.”
Can’t we all relate to this in some way?
My husband and I both took a risk and quit our jobs (not at the same time) to start our own businesses back in 2008. While working for yourself comes with benefits like being able to set your own schedule, it also comes with financial ups and downs, especially when you’re first starting out.
There were definitely times when I wondered how I was going to afford a bag of dog food.
But you know what? We made it work.
Jen said it better than me:
“Families on a limited income or experiencing financial or medical hardship should have the option for experiencing the emotional advantage that having pets can bring to their life. They should not be ripped apart, they don’t need to be judged.”
Of course, sometimes families will decide they can’t keep their pets for whatever reason, and we should not be so quick to criticize. We should be helpful, not judgmental, because we rarely know all the details.
I hope you’ll head over and read Jen’s post. I’m sure she’d love it if you left her a comment too.
Have you ever faced a life change that made caring for your pet more difficult?
Any advice for someone who might currently be struggling?
Let me know in the comments!