Eight years ago, as I was about to turn 30, I gave myself permission to get a dog. I went through a rescue organization and got my compact bundle of love who’d been a runner in his previous life, one who wouldn’t stay in sight when unleashed and unfenced. Now that he’s mine, he’s chipped, but he’s still labeled a “flight risk,” and forever shall be. Grendel, named after the monster in Beowulf, is my main squeeze and I plan on being his final roommate, the one who didn’t lose him to his own wanderlust.
There are many responsibilities that come with owning an animal, whether we think of them as a pet, a work partner, or a child. Our Vet Q&A with Dr. Dan Anderson (p. 39) details some of the costs of bringing home a pet, what to expect for dental hygiene, and what Lyme Disease might look like in a dog; these aspects barely scratch the surface of what it takes to have a furry perpetual dependant. Socialization and exercise must be considered (as in the Doggy Daycare piece by Joe Wrglal on p. 41) as should the source of your pet (as in the Rescue Spotlight: Feline Rescue on p. 36). But even more than that, a crucial aspect to consider before owning a pet can be as basic as where we live.
When I was deep in the search results of Petfinder.com, I sent some dog options to my brother. Being the older and wiser of the two of us, he sent me back lists of pros and cons for each dog. Should I have a Border Collie if I live in a small apartment and don’t plan to ever let the dog run and run? Is a Chow a good idea if I can’t stand the thought of hair everywhere? Will a little barky dog get me noise complaints from my neighbors? On top of those questions, I had to consider where a kennel could go, what to do if the dog had problems with indoor urination or defecation (and what a damage deposit might set me back), how easy the access was to the outdoors for all of the walks a dog requires, if there was a monthly pet rent to pay, and what size of dog would be approved by my apartment complex. All things considered, I made a great choice in my little adopted companion.
Grendel is my perfect dog. He’s small but mighty, doesn’t bark much, sheds minimally, respects his home and rarely has accidents, and was easy to train for kenneling him in a crate while I’m away from the apartment. A few years ago I was fortunate to get us into a wonderful artists loft community in St. Paul with a bunch of other dog owners and creative types in beautiful units that work well for dogs and cats, both. Our home life is maintenance-free and harmonious. The other dog owners in the community are respectful and know us; most understand that my dog is an über-terrier and tends to be persnickety around dogs that are bigger than him. We’re in a place that we love and we take our membership very seriously.
So, in this issue that is about homes, gardens, and pets, consider how all of those factors fit into your life. With Grendel came a whole lot of love and responsibility, but also some gravity. He is the force that brings me home and grounds me.
Home is where my dog is.