Owning a dog is not an easy thing to do. Much like a baby they eat, sleep and shit a lot, but, whilst they grow up a lot faster than babies, they’re always going to be dependent on you for the eating and the shitting, if not the sleeping, too. It’s one hell of a commitment, but it’s one that some of us would rather do than have children.
Back in July, I was in a pretty bad place. I’d moved back home from university and was isolated from my friends, we’d lost our family pet, a Golden Retriever called George, I’d lost some of my friends because they weren’t whom I thought they were and being back home had reminded me of things that I’d wanted to long forget.
Mum could see how depressed I was, and she knew what would make me feel at least a little bit better. She knew that I loved animals, that I missed George like crazy, and that, even if it was quite soon after his death, that having someone of the cute and fluffy variety wandering around would help the house feel like a home again.
That’s where Merlin came in. Nan vowed to move out if we got another dog, but Mum knew that she wouldn’t, she knew that she’d end up with a secret soft spot for him. And she has. Whilst Merlin can be a little iPod munching demon at times, he’s also intelligent, affectionate and offers a welcome distraction to us all from everything else.
Despite how much we love him, he is incredibly difficult to train. He’s the hardest breed of dog to train (Siberian Husky) meaning that you not only need more patience than a saint, but you also need to be able to outsmart him and read his mind, as that’s the only way you’re going to stop him from misbehaving. It doesn’t sound easy. It’s even more difficult than it sounds. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it for every time you teach them a new trick and see them finally get it. It’s worth it when they know that you’re sad and they come up to you, offering comfort in their own little doggy way. Dogs can be far more affectionate than most people, but many of them get a bad reputation because they’re mistreated and take this mistreatment out on others – if a dog is well-trained, they’re not going to bite anyone. If they’re badly trained, or trained to attack, of course they’re going to bite, the same as any person would if they were provoked. The only difference is that people can bite back verbally as well as physically, dogs don’t have that luxury, but it’s still always the dogs that get penalised, just because they can’t fight their own corner.
Dogs are a huge responsibility – probably bigger than children – and people often forget this when they see a cute and fluffy face, especially when they start of small and grow to be bigger than their owner. If you’re not prepared to put the effort in or to make sacrifices for their sake, it’s just not worth the risk to them, to you, or to others.