Should we get a dog?

“Should we get a dog?” is the one of the most frequently asked questions at our house these days. However, my kids, G and R, and have undertaken a very disorganized campaign for a dog. While it essentially entails talking about where the dog would sleep (G says her bed, R says his bed) and what the dog would be named (a current favorite is Bella), their arguments are not persuasive enough to make me say yes. G says she’ll feed it—once—and no one has claimed the responsibility of walking it every day, so the question lies there, unanswered.

For G’s recent birthday, my brother and sister-in-law sent her Zoomer, a robot dog (that’s G and Zoomer in the photo). The kids love Zoomer. He rolls over, barks, runs around in circles, and, much to the delight of the kids, lifts up his leg and pretends to pee. This is very funny if you’re a kid.

should_we_get_a_dog_red_shutters.jpgI never had a dog growing up. We were a fish and hamster family. So, this past spring, on a whim, I drove R and G to the pet store to purchase two beta fish, which they named Dashy Fish (after Dash in The Incredibles) and Chloe. They lasted a few months, but, after they died, it took the kids about three weeks to realize the fish tank was missing. They are not ready for a dog!

My husband, on the other hand, grew up surrounded by dogs. His father was a veterinarian so there was a dog in the house since before my husband was born. He even took his most beloved dog to college, where she lived with him at the fraternity house, waiting on the front steps for him to come home from class each day.

My husband’s adult life has been the longest he’s gone without a dog. He’s not persuaded that our family should take on a dog right now; it would be like a third child, he explained to me. That analogy slows down our decision to say yes. I’m allergic to dogs, too, so we’d need to go the hypoallergic route, which I sense is a disappointment for my Labrador-loving husband.

Despite the uncertainty about getting a dog, I found myself on Petfinder recently, trolling the pictures of rescue dogs for one that might be just right for our family. I narrowed my search to dogs that were good with kids. So many of them were cute, but, at each click, I became less certain. Interestingly, I’ve trolled on Petfinder before. Each time, it was around the time I became pregnant with R and G—a sign, I guess, that I was ready to expand our family. This time, though, it’s a dog that’s on the table—not another baby.

To complicate this question, at G’s five-year-old wellness check-up, her pediatrician, a woman I adore, who got me through those early baby years thanks to her support and wisdom, suggested that getting a dog might be a good idea for us. She recently capitulated to her kids’ requests for a dog, and while she’s had all of the responsibility for caring for the dog, it’s been a great addition to the family. “I didn’t want to hear when my kids were adults that I had deprived them by not getting them a dog,” she laughed. I smiled, but inside I thought, “uh-oh, something else to worry about.”

I shared our doctor’s advice with my husband over dinner last week, and R listened in, his ears perking up when I said “dog.” He has now incorporated the doctor’s advice into his campaign for a dog. “Mom, even our doctor says we should get a dog!”

We’ll see if that convinces us!

What about you? Do you have a dog? Tell me if you think we should get one in the comments!


  1. Accept that it will be your dog, but it will add lots of joy to the family. Our newly married son missed having a dog so much that he just adopted a rescue dog, despite our advice: DON’T DO IT. I knew they would. They are dog people, too.
    Breed? Standard Poodle. Gentle and playful and no shedding/allergy free. Easy to train. The only downside? Frequent trips to the groomer to keep her in long curls (puppy cut). Good luck!

    • Kimberly says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Gail! The campaign is getting more serious over here, so I need help making a decision!

  2. We are in the same situation here. Right now we’re waiting for the youngest to be 5 – she’s 3 now.

    • Kimberly says:

      That’s a good idea, Caroline! Maybe we should set an age that we’ll consider it instead of going back and forth… thanks for the idea!

  3. Like everything else…I know if we get a dog we won’t be able to imagine our lives without one after a month. Decisions decisions.

  4. oh I wish this had come up the other day at the farm! I would love to get a dog. My husband not so much. My kids- yes!! But really I miss having a dog. I don’t miss the poop, the drool, and the fur. Everywhere. We’ll see…
    We set and age. It has come and gone. Thank goodness none of them remembered!

    • Kimberly says:

      Such a hard decision! Good luck with your decision, Sharon — I know we’re struggling over here!

  5. Go for it. If we didn’t already have three cats we would be looking for a dog ourselves.

    • Kimberly says:

      3 cats! We’d probably go that route, if I wasn’t allergic. Thanks for the support and for reading!

  6. I have had a dog for about 16 months now, it is one if the hardest things I’ve done. Take into consideration dogs running your carpets, furniture, and vacations. You cannot leave a dog fir too long on day trips either. I admit, I rushed into getting a dog but wasn’t ready.

    • Kimberly says:

      Thanks for your honesty, Amy – your experience is precisely my worry! That’s why we are taking our time with this decision. Thanks for reading!

  7. We had a dog when we had our daughter and there was some jealousy. However we got another pup and she was just perfect. Both dogs were great with my daughter after. Sadly, we no longer have either due to medical stuff but I’ve been aching to adopt a new one as well.

  8. We don’t. I’m not a fan of dogs. I don’t want to have to worry about taking them out and getting them a walk and to go potty, etc. We have a cat and I like that she can stay inside and we just have to clean her little box.

  9. Hi Kimberly! We got our first dog before kids, we now have two dogs. On the one hand I recommend it very highly. They are so funny and loving and they give the kids a safe place to cuddle and be loving and gentle…especially for boys who come to an age where they don’t want to be mushy with mom anymore. On the other hand, the kids will not help you at all, you will be the dogs mommy. Don’t kid yourself, so you have to want it. And they will pee on your rugs, chew your furniture, throw up on your bed, eat trash, etc. you will spend more money than you thought possible at the vet, and at Petco. It really helps to have a fenced in yard by the way when you just can’t walk the dog. In my view, totally worth it. Kind of like kids.

  10. There’s nothing like having a dog. I vote go for it! It’s a big commitment, especially in the first few years. If someone is home during the day and you have the time to devote to the puppy you’re golden. They provide so much unconditional love. I miss my dog every day. She forced me to take walks and reminded me to live in the moment. Can’t wait to hear what you decide to do.

  11. Good luck! We love our pups but so much work just as much as kids.

  12. We’ve been having the same conversation for almost a year now.

    Though we love, love, LOVE dogs, it would break my heart to adopt one, then have to rehome it months later because of allergies. No matter what anyone tells you, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. While a dog’s fur and dander is certainly a factor in aggravating allergies (my son and I are both mildly allergic), it’s what they bring in from the outdoors that often makes it worse if you have environmental allergies too.

    What’s more, I want to make sure we can afford a dog’s care. Obviously, a pet would be a loved member of the family, and shots, tests, operations are all spendy.

    Such a difficult choice! All I know is that in a perfect world, we’d be smothered in French Bulldogs :-)

  13. We have a dog, a pug. I adore her, even though she does sometimes make me a little crazy. Even though I have to run the vacuum more often than I’d like.

    Before we got her, and this was pre-children, I researched breeds for months. We didn’t just get her on a whim, and we mostly knew what we were getting into. She’s a great addition to our family, even as we added to it.

    But, thinking of your lifestyle is a must when you look at getting a dog. Can you afford to board her if you vacation a lot? We have a neighbour who we pay to watch her when we go away for short periods of time, so we don’t worry about that too much. Getting a dog totally means making room for him or her in your life, and if you can’t do it for whatever reason, don’t get a dog. They do take time, and effort (Sometimes too much). They are, if you are ready and willing, great additions to a family.