Reflecting back on 2016 in the last couple of days (as one does this time of year) made me realize that even if I don’t feel any different or think that I’ve changed much, I became less fearful of taking on responsibility and I challenged myself more.
Isn’t that what grown ups do? Or maybe it’s that millennial mindset that leads me to believe that if I really want something and I’m willing to put in the work to make it happen, then I can most likely have it.
And that is exactly why I got a puppy while working full time, attending university, trying to grow my blog and freelance at the same time.
Before I get into more detail about what I learned about raising a puppy as a millennial, let me introduce you to Flicka Olivia Nibbler, my three-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier. She is a fearless personality (although the vacuum cleaner has her running under the bed), a nap lover and great cuddle giver.
She treats everyone as if she has known them her whole life (even strangers on the street or in parks), loves to nibble on things she is not supposed to and it’s currently terrible at playing fetch (she refuses to bring the ball back).
If you want to keep updated on her journey through life, you can follow her on Instagram here where I will be posting adorable updates and her most recent adventures.
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7 things millennials need to know
before getting a puppy
You don’t need “settle down” to become a strong independent pet owner
When I first started looking for a puppy, I knew I had to also find a new place to live where pets are allowed. In my search I came across a lovely landlord lady that took it upon herself to advise me to search for human companionship if I feel lonely, because wanting a dog at my age is just a whim and this is the time where I “should go out and have fun and meet people” (I don’t disagree with that but walking Flicka got me more introductions and conversations with strangers that my normal morning ever did). She shared the same love for pets but suggested I wait until I am “settled down” and have my life all figured out until I take on the responsibility of a dog,
I’ve been a pet owner all my life, but never really had a pet for myself since it was family owned. But now that I’m living away from home and while I still got family here (being lonely is the last reason while I was thinking of getting a puppy), I was pining for that animal element in my life. So I made quite a rash decision and decided I am not going to wait for 5 or 10 more years until I am settled down at my own house to “start a family”.
I am a millennial after all and while it’s not easy, I know from my own experience that you can raise a happy and healthy dog even if you are not a well-established adult. It’s all about how bad you want to make it happen.
Maybe I’m just rebelling against the old fashioned social norms and, just as the internet accuses my generation, I require instant gratification and I think I can have anything just because I want it. Or maybe I can decide not to let life pass me by because I am scared of bad timings, extra responsibilities and fictional events.
With great pets comes great responsibility
But do not be fooled. Puppies especially are hard work in the beginning. You need to invest time, money and tons of energy into them. Is it worth it? Sure. But make sure you are willing to play your part.
You are now responsible for a tiny helpless life. So how can you make sure you honor it while still respecting all your other responsibilities and not neglecting your social life?
Well, it can be done. I am currently a full-time student and employee, run a blog and an Etsy store, I am in a committed relationship and occasionally freelance. So how did I have time and energy to raise a puppy?
You need to invest time (especially in the beginning)
While timing isn’t everything, I took into consideration my winter break from university that gave me plenty of free time to accommodate the tiny soul into her new house. Since I work from a small private office, I managed to arrange with my boss to take the puppy to work for her few weeks, as leaving her alone for long periods of time is not recommended in the first months of her life.
So it’s imperative that you are able to make some extra time in the first months (less if you get an adult dog) to tend to her needs, training and general growing process.
The fact that she needs to get up early in the morning to go out gave me that extra time with her and even offered an extra hour in the morning to tend to my other responsibilities.
It’s ok to rely on other people
But what happens if you don’t have too much time to give or you can’t take the dog with you to work? Or you just need some extra help?
Asking for help does not mean you can’t do it alone or that you are less capable to raise your own puppy. Sometimes relying on other people is the best thing you should do.
Family is a source of unconditional second hands that in most cases will be willing to assist you in little tasks that need to be done in order to keep your dog happy. Or how about asking a neighbor to check in on the dog if you’ve been away for more than three or four hours?
My brother and my boyfriend have been awesome support systems, but not selflessly so, as they both love Flicka as their own dog.
You still have to carry the responsibility of making sure she gets what she needs, but it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
There are plenty of resources to count on
If turning to people doesn’t cut it and you’re scared that you simply can’t do it on your own, remind yourself that it’s 2017 and there is a solution for everything.
Can’t leave your dog home alone or don’t have time to walk it as often as you would like? Go to a doggy day care or hire a dog walker (although puppies need to play rather than take long walks).
You can’t be home to feed your puppy three times a day? That’s why food dispensers were invented. You can program them to feed at certain times, certain amounts of food and save yourself huge amounts of money.
Don’t have the time to properly train and socialize your dog? Hire a local dog trainer or enroll your puppy in some training classes. If you do have some time on your hands, do some research, buy some books and learn how to communicate with your own dog.
The world is your oyster and this oyster has all you need to raise a puppy that will turn into the dog you’ve been hoping for.
It’s going to require some financial sacrifices
When researching how much would it cost me to get a dog (and raise it) in the UK I realized that I can save the money to do so by cutting back on some luxury items and services.
The truth is, it’s not going to bankrupt you, but you need to start tracking all your money goes and be responsible about how you spend it. For me, it was about quitting the gym that I rarely went to, cutting back on eating out and ordering in as much as I do, limit my unnecessary expenses (such as clothes, shoes and other luxury items) and maybe get in some extra freelancing work where I could.
The initial expense will be the highest: the price of the dog (whether you buy or adopt it), veterinary bills (all major vet clinics have a puppy starter pack that won’t cost as much as you think) and basic dog necessity items.
From there on, it’s about small monthly expenses such as food, pet insurance if you plan to get one and occasional toys.
When it comes to food, do not make the mistake to go for the cheapest one as it will probably result in having to invest money further on in growing your puppy back to health. Flicka is currently on James Wellbeloved which bought in large quantities can end up costing just as much (per kg) as the random food you find in supermarkets, but the quality is superior to anything out there and the results are quick to be noticed.
So be prepared to invest a bit of money, especially if you want to spoil your dog. But personally she brings me more happiness than junk food does, so I’m willing to make that sacrifice.
You will become a better person
We all know about the obvious benefits that a dog brings to our life, some which are quite miraculous: you will getsick less often, you will have a lower blood pressure, sleep better and exercise more than you normally would.
But there are some underlying benefits that pets bring as they test our patience, drive us mad and build our character.
You will become more patient. You have no choice. Because they can sense emotion, and if you become frustrated while trying to train them, it will only stress them out. And if you don’t train them they will pee on your carpet indefinitely.
You will get and receive more affection. And how can that not turn you into a better person?
You will learn to enjoy the smallest thing. Like 5 minutes of peace. Or the joy when she finally poops in the garden instead of her usual spot, behind a chair in the living room.
You will become a better person. And you don’t even have to try.
All in all, I think your age shouldn’t define your ability to own a dog. As long as you are able to financially sustain one and make the time for a pet, you shouldn’t let people’s perception of what’s appropriate define what makes you happy.
Thank you so much for reading! We wish you a happy happy 2017 and we would love to hear from you if you do decide to make it even better by getting a puppy.