Podcast 24: Take Photos of Everyday Life, the Tension that Exists in Love–and Should I Get a Dog?

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

BlankeeElizabethUpdate: After episode 17, listeners got in touch to tell us about the things that they call their preciousssss. Fascinating. And do you have a beloved toy — or other artifact — that you still treasure from childhood? Here’s Elizabeth’s Blankey (I confirmed the spelling).

Try This at Home: Take photos of everyday life. Never forget how easy it is to forget.

Assay: Elizabeth and I discuss a story that singer-songwriter-author Rosanne Cash told us about working with her husband, in episode 22. It really resonated with us, because it captures an important tension that exists within loving relationships: “You’re awesome just the way you are” vs. “You can do better.” (By the way, our producer Henry did give me notes at the end of the episode! Which I really do appreciate–his job is to push us harder.)

Listener Question: “My family has moved to a new city. We loved the city where we were living, but how do we make sure we’re as happy in our new city as we were in our old city?” (I can’t resist including a link to my book, Happier at Home, which is all about — you guessed it — how to be happier at home.)

BlackJackCatGretchen’s Demerit: My daughters really want a dog, but I’m not sure I want a dog. Listeners, should we get a dog?

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: She’s a good sister and talks to me at length about the dog issue. (Here’s a photo of Elizabeth’s cat Blackjack.)

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors.  Want to avoid post-office pain, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a no-risk trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

Also, check out The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

We’d love to hear from you. Especially if you have any ideas about whether my family should get a dog!

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page. To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

And if you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

HAPPIER listening!

  • Hi Gretchen, I totally hear you about feeling conflicted about getting a dog! My suggestion to you is to set up some “prerequisites” that your husband and daughters must complete before making a final decision, such as:

    1. Allergy testing (to make sure nobody in the family is allergic)
    2. Pet-sit for friends and family as often as possible and maybe even ask to borrow a “loaner” dog for a couple of weeks to see how it would work in your home.
    3. Volunteer for 6 months for the humane society or other animal organization caring for animals to get hands-on experience with dogs. This may also help rule out allergies in the family and while exciting at first, with time your husband and daughters will also know what it takes to deal with animals that are not always happy, clean, or convenient.
    4. Your youngest daughter may be too young for volunteering as above, but you could do a “trial-run” using a dog toy which she has to feed, clean, and walk regularly for a month or more to prove her commitment to caring for a real dog. Much like some high schools do when they give teenagers a “baby” to care for as a project!

    If you set up the right conditions and they are met, then when you get the dog you will feel more reassured about getting help from your family and your family gets what they want too. Or, you all find out that you don’t really want a dog and avoid regretting making that decision rashly.

  • s_ifat

    Get your daughters a dog! I don’t know how passionate they are about it, but I was crazy about dogs growing up, my mother just does not get it, and did not allow it. I felt very dissapointed in her because she just didnt get that kind of love. a connection with dogs is really special to some people. imagine how much you love books and imagine growing up with a mother that does not understand why you like to read. yes, a dog is a BIG responsibility, and it’s up to your daughters to get all the info BEFORE you get a dog. it’s a commitment, not a toy. you don’t get rid of it if you decide “it’s not for you” there are great online resources for dog newbees. the girls should really research it before.. My love of dogs (and horses) led me to study veterinary and I am married to a vet and we have 4 dogs and still, my mother does not get 🙂

  • sara

    Great podcast! On the dog question, I would recommend getting a dog-like cat. Maybe I am biased because I’m a cat person, but in general they are definitely WAY less work. If you go to a shelter, you can meet lots of kitties to find one that’s super friendly and loves people. Our cat greets us when we come home, loves to snuggle, and definitely has a more people-oriented, dog-like personality (as opposed to your stereotypical standoffish kitty personality). But, we never have to take him on walks and can leave him for a couple of days with just his automatic feeder. (For longer trips, we’ll hire a cat sitter to stop by every couple of days and check in on him, but over all way less bother than hiring a dog sitter or boarding a dog.)

    I would also set up clear expectations about dog or cat care before you get the pet. Yes, realistically you’re going to be dealing with the day-time care issues (vet trips, groomer, mid-day vomiting). But, can you make an agreement with your husband and kids that because you’re the default day person, they are to take charge on the rest-of-the-time tasks — that is, they’ll be doing morning and evening walks, be the one to call the vet/groomer and schedule appointments, research and purchase food and other pet supplies. I feel like a clear division of labor like this would make you a lot happier. (If you really don’t trust your husband/daughters to follow through on an agreement like that, I don’t think you should ge the dog.)

    You also might consider adopting a senior pet. Puppies (or kittens) are a LOT more work than adult pets, so this would reduce the burden on everyone. Plus, you can feel good about giving a home to a pet that otherwise might not get adopted (it’s much harder for shelters to find homes for senior pets). And finally, it’s less of a time committment — the reality is that a dog you get at age 8 isn’t going to be around as long as a puppy.

    Finally! On beloved childhood treasures — I have two stuffed animals that I have slept with throughout adulthood. My husband finds this adorable, and so has purchased me many additional stuffed animals (probably more than I ever had as a child). When we line them all up on our bed now, there are probably 10 or more! It’s a little ridiculous (we do not have children) but I love it…there’s something very comforting about sleeping with a stuffed animal! And I guess we have a head start on a stuffed animal collection for when we have kids.

  • Kateryna

    My parents are both allergic to animals. Growing up alllll I wanted was a puppy. Thankfully many of my friends had dogs so I was able to live vicariously through them. I walked them, played with and helped care for them. I think if your daughters show they are serious about taking care of the dog, you should get one. They provide so much love and also a great way to teach extra responsibility.

    I am so happy that you’ve started a podcast. The Happiness Project changed my whole view of life. So much so that I’ve actually taken the scary step to blog about finding happiness in my life and what that means to me. I would if you checked it out! livingandlaughingwithkate.com

  • Sophie

    Yes, absolutely get a dog! I’d recommend getting a dog who is at least two years old if you’d like to skip over the property-destruction phase. There are plenty of homeless dogs who are already potty trained and crate trained. If you pick one who is already in foster care, his/her foster family can likely provide you a really good idea of the dog’s personality ahead of time (you’ll probably want to make sure he/she is not a big barker, given that you live in an apartment). You won’t regret it. 🙂

  • Lauren Vigeland

    As a diehard, lifelong dog owner in a city with spectacular weather, I recommend only getting a dog if you are willing to commit to meeting its physical need for exercise even on days when it is raining, sleeting, or snowing. All dogs require physical exercise for their mental and physical health and depriving them of this can spur major behavioral problems. Being a responsible dog owner is not always convenient or enjoyable, particularly in the winter. Day trips need to be planned with a dog sitter in mind, as does overnight travel. There is also the prospect of potential health or behavioral problems that could crop up as the dog ages. Caring for a dog is wonderfully rewarding, but doing so responsibly necessitates a significant commitment and may not be worth it for those who don’t love dogs.

  • Stacey

    Yes – get a dog!!!! My husband and I adopted a beagle almost two years ago and we absolutely adore her. I understand your hesitation – we thought long and hard before we adopted out dog and I was concerned about all the work falling to me, but it was absolutely worth it — our dog is a constant source of happiness for both of us and surprisingly, my husband has taken on most of the dog-related responsibilities.

    We also live in NYC (on the 28th floor) so understand the challenges of weather and not having a yard to let the dog roam free, but its not nearly as much work as I thought it would be. As I think some other commenters have mentioned, the challenge is
    planning the dog walker/doggy daycare and lack of spontaneous trip, but
    we are lucky to have so many resources in NYC.

    We have actually made friends with other dog owners that we see at the dog park. Having our dog has made our section of the city and building seem much neighborhood-y and really made us feel connected to a community. We have

    If you decide to take the plunge, research your breed – some are easier to manage than others (we didn’t realize beagles are notoriously hard to housetrain!)

    • OctoberRose5

      Don’t know if we just got lucky, but our (male) beagle was extremely easy to housetrain. Beagles are great, sweet low-maintainance dogs who make friends with everyone, in my experience!

  • Aimee

    Your listener who just moved could do the Try This at Home Photo a Day with her family as a way to get connected to their new city and people. Also, don’t get a dog unless YOU really want it. Your concerns about the commitment and responsibility are very valid.

    • Susan Tanner

      I couldn’t agree more. Getting a dog for children is not getting a dog for children. It is getting a dog for yourself which the children will vicariously enjoy. Are you, yourself a dog loving person, who has had dogs that you loved and cared for before? Dog care is not a kid job although they can learn from an adult who is the actual, full-time caregiver for the dog – and that’s the best way. But do not expect a kid to figure it out on their own. You are not just training a dog, you’re also teaching a kid(s) how to care for & love the dog. It takes a dog-loving adult. If you have to hesitate, the answer should be no. And I love dogs.

  • Kara Blake

    I’m biased as a dog owner, but I would totally recommend a dog! My suggestion would be to get an adult dog. There are several compelling reasons: 1) Adult dogs often have a harder time finding a home. 2) An older dog is calmer. 3) An adult dog can hold their bladder longer (so, not so many trips to take the dog out).Good luck!

  • Jeff

    I love my dog – he has taught me much and added a great deal to my life. However, a dog is a lot of work. Dogs are total creatures of habit and will expect you to maintain these habits daily. They deserve a lot of exercise – wolves walk ten miles a day in the wild – and will come to crave and expect it from you – you must be prepared to give it. A dog will focus on the person who does for them w/ a laser like intensity to “do for me!” Your girls have their whole lives in front of them to get their own pets when they have the resources to do so. They have no idea how much work it can be and will be unreliable helpers at best. It will be your dog for better or for worse!

  • A Lum

    Should you get a dog? I am a dog owner of a lovely rescue dogs (yes, they sleep together) and dog Auntie (that is Charlie, the beagle-shark my doggie-nephew). I waited until I moved out of my parents house to get a dog because my Mom did not want animals in the house. I volunteer at our local shelter as a dog handler. My dogs have given me so much, I often wonder who rescued who. 🙂

    If you are “on the fence” you can help the girls volunteer in a teen program at your local shelter and they can see how much work it is to have a dog.

    There also have foster programs where you foster various dogs [long term vs short term] to see what it will be like to have a dog in your household.

    There are also a plethora of people who can help with your errands and dog-centric ones. Like TaskRabbit, dog sitters/walkers, etc. if a concern was that you wouldn’t have the time to do all the doggie tasks.

  • Nettie Hendricks

    I think the perfect middle ground between getting a dog and not getting a dog is getting a cat! specifically a bombay cat.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64uA_yxE8b4

    great companion for someone who works at home, yet low-maintenance
    very people-oriented, friendly and affectionate
    don’t require walks but can learn to walk on a leash, play fetch and hide-n-seek
    smart and playful and retain kittenish sense of humour into old age
    no grooming necessary

    Unless someone is allergic, a bombay cat would most likely make you and everyone in your family happier. The two pictures on the left are Adi, who came to live with me almost a year ago. Having him in my life has definitely made me happier!

  • I have to vote for a cat, provided no one is allergic, and second the other commenter who suggested a dog-like cat. Tuxedo cats are often dog like and have wonderful personalities. If you want to check out a few kitties, head to Petco on 86th and Lex – every Saturday, the rescue group Anjellicle Cats hosts an adoption event. I volunteer with them and they are very knowledgeable. Hope that helps!

  • Sandra Seidel

    Hi & thank you for the great podcasts!!! I love every one.
    We have 3 grown kids & they love, love, love our 2 dogs! We have a cat too but he just puts up with them. I can’t see my kids loving a cat like they love the dogs but you know your kids better then I : ). Pets are great for bonding & most things with pets can be planned for (your wonderful husband can take vacation days for vet appointments!).
    On another note, & as long as I’m writing…
    My mother passed away a year ago on Aug. 11th last year & the day after we got back from her memorial my husband was let go from his job. We had moved here 2 years before for his job & never really felt at home. I’m having a hard time grieving for my mom & have no close friends here. I have made an effort but the relationships were never reciprocated.
    Thoughts & advice appreciated.

    • Victoria

      Hi Sandra, I’ve only just seen your post as I’m catching up on the podcasts after a holiday. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother, it must be particularly painful right now as you’ve just had the anniversary too. It sounds like you’ve tried hard to make friends, but it is harder when we’re a bit older isn’t it, especially if the kids are grown up so you don’t have the school run and other reasons to meet and get to know new people. Are you and your husband both working now? I know it’s difficult when you are grieving and lonely and homesick, but I guess if you’re going to try and make a go of it in your new place, a good first step is to think of some group you could join, activity you could start doing, or whatever, just to get you out meeting people and doing something you enjoy. And it’s also so important to keep connections with your old friends and family “back home” too, even if that takes a lot of time, money and effort. Sorry my reply isn’t very imaginative, I just wanted you to know someone had read your post and my heart goes out to you. I hope you have come through the other side of this sad anniversary and you can gradually find new things in your life to give you some happy times again.

  • Lydia Comer

    Get a dog, but if you are worried about all of the responsibilities falling to you, get an older dog who is already house trained. I would also suggest fostering for a rescue organization. It’s a way to try out dog ownership without commitment, and really helps dogs not to go crazy in kennels at shelters. I fostered a dog for a year, and while she was not the dog for me, I did learn that I wanted a dog in my life. Plus, the rescue group hired a dog trainer to train ME to train the foster dog, which was immensely helpful later with my dog. Hope that helps! I’m enjoying the podcast!

  • Mimi Gregor

    I would advise against getting a dog. Dogs are social animals and require a certain amount of attention. So the first question is, do you have the time to give a dog the attention it needs? And you are right — caring for the dog will ultimately be your job, no matter how much the kids say they will do now, while they’re trying to sway you. The fact of the matter is, you are the person who will be home with the dog. The others will be at work or school, and it would naturally fall to the one who is at home to do the bulk of the care. Secondly, it doesn’t seem that you really want a dog, and there is nothing wrong with that. If they were actually going to be the ones doing the majority of the work involved, I would say, “Pffft… just go along with it; they will be taking care of it.” But you and I both know that this will not be the case. It seems unfair that the one who feels lukewarm about the prospect in the first place will turn out to have to give up a chunk of their time and energy to this, while the people who are excited about a dog will probably end up only doing the fun things with it, and not the walkies, and vet visits, and cleaning up after the dog or training it. Please don’t be guilted into doing something that you don’t really want to do.

  • Ligia

    Do get a dog! We own two, and of course my husband and i do basically Most of the dirty jobs, but they bring so much joy! And the kids love them!

  • Lori_KeepingItSimple

    For a picture a day- Project 365 by Alvin Yu
    https://appsto.re/us/Wfmjt.i

  • Hey Gretchen & Elizabeth! On the Photo-a-Day suggestion – there are a ton of scrapbooking sites that encourage this type of practice. One of my favorites is Ali Edwards. She’s doing a project in a couple of weeks called “Week In The Life,” where she takes tons of photos of her everyday routines for one week and then puts together a scrapbook. I’ve done this project for several years now and they’re some of my favorite albums! Her site is http://aliedwards.com/projects/week-in-the-life

    Another one is Becky Higgins. She has a product line called “Project Life,” where you add photos to sleeves in page protectors and then write on journaling cards to document your week. http://www.beckyhiggins.com

    A more photography-based site is http://www.captureyour365.com. They offer photo prompts every day to help document your daily life.

    I’m adamant about daily life documentation. I may not take a photo each and every day, but I do take photos regularly.

  • Klara Furuberg

    Children do get a lot of pleasure from spending time with dogs and I remember the dog my grandpartents had very well. That said, I think an important part of childhood can also be NOT getting what you want. Not getting a dog can be an ok experience too.

  • Anna Lewoc

    Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth! I’ve been listening to your podcast for quite a long time now since a friend recommended it to me (and also I wanted to keep in touch with everyday English, as I come from Poland and I’m a translator and a teacher of English who recently taught kids and needed to get back to advanced stuff ;))

    I wanted to comment on one thing related to this podcast and share one thought I had while listening to older episodes.

    So, about the one-photo-a-day thing – there’s something called 100 Days of Happiness Challenge. During this challenge, for 100 days, every day, you take a picture of something that made you happy – it might be anything, even a nice pair of socks or a nice cup of tea – everyday stuff. The point of the challenge is to make you aware of the small things that can make you happy. I did it this year as a New Year’s Resolution and it was a great experience! Most of my pictures were about food ;))

    And the random thought I had – in one episode, you said that owls often get frustrated because the world is better set up for larks. I am a lark out of necessity – sometimes I start my courses at 7 AM, and on the other days I do crossfit at 6.30 AM (not on holidays though), so I need to get up around 5 AM quite often, which means I need to go to sleep at 10 PM at the latest (and I get sleepy around 8 PM), which sometimes frustrates me, because I can’t go to the cinema in the evening or watch a football match or a movie on TV or go with my friends for a pint because all that starts so late in the evening (like, 8 PM) that there’s no way I’m going to get enough sleep. So I wanted to point to this social factor that makes the world frustrating for the larks as well 😉 (and BTW sometimes I like to sleep long, like until 10 AM, so I’m not a 100% lark)

    Sorry for the long post! 😉 take care!

  • wongeelynn

    Yes, please do adopt a rescued dog, it will be the best decision you ever made. A dog would bring the family even closer together and be a ‘younger sibling’ for the girls. You can come up with a Responsibility Chart and the girls can earn extra allowance by taking on extra dog-related responsibilities.

  • Paulan

    Get a dog but get the right dog. I agree with the commenters who suggest an older dog. I adopted a 6 year old neutered male border collie from a shelter. No one else wanted him because he was “too old.” He’s now eight and and a total joy. He has added so much to my life and he knows he absolutely hit the lottery with me. No dog will ever love you as much as a rescued older dog. One word of caution: My dog is the most chilled-out border collie ever. Totally zen. Most border collies are relentless in their need for mental and physical stimulation. Therefore, make sure the dog you choose is well suited for city living. A relaxed breed, housebroken, who loves children. Sadly, the shelters are full of them.

  • Msconduct

    As a complete animal lover, my recommendation would be that you don’t get a dog. My memory of you talking about pets in your books is that you really aren’t an animal person, and the reality is that no matter how enthusiastic your girls are responsibility will devolve onto you. If you don’t really want a dog in the first place, all that work won’t be a labour of love, just labour.

  • Sandra Paskett

    The right dog is Love on Legs, the wrong dog is a commitment that you wont enjoy. The right dog is unconditional love and devotion, the wrong dog is a hair shirt. Just like the right way to change behaviour differs for different people, so it is for dogs. I am a bookish person who likes to understand people. The right dog for me was a people focussed lap dog who was just devoted to me and who liked a walk but not a massive amount of exercise.

  • Kim

    Get a dog! You’ll be so happy you did. They just make life more fun. It is work but it’s a good return on investment.

  • Deborah

    Here’s the question to ask yourself before you get a dog: do you have the personality/motivation/discipline to train a dog? I am an animal lover, but my problem with dogs is the number of people who get them and then do nothing to manage their behavior. They just speak adoringly about the dogs as they jump up to lick the “people food” on the table, lunge at guests, or bark incessantly.

    A certain amount of sternness and consistency is needed in order to have a well-behaved dog, and I think most people have trouble summoning that once they fall in love with a dog.

  • l Bellemare

    Although I am a crazy animal lover and I wished that everyone could get a dog, I realize that it is not for everybody! After the death of our two first dogs, my husband and I had decided not to get another one because we wanted to travel more and with dogs, that is not easy. (Our dogs were country dogs and they were not used to leashes and traveling in cars except for their yearly trip to the vet.) Our neighbour’s new dog would come to visit occasionally so that was fine but eventually she ended up staying longer and longer. The neighbour was going to get rid of her because she was never home (btw neither was he hmmmm) so our daughter begged us to take her. She was going to do everything!!!!!!! We all know how that ended however, I did not mind taking over because animals are one of my precious things. But if you are not an animal lover then this could become a source of stress for you because, inevitably, you will probably be the one. Or…….you will fall in love with him or her, and won’t mind. My husband is a mild animal liker but Tasha has fallen in love with him and he with her. So, you never know. But you already know, I am sure, all the work that goes into a dog especially if you live in the city!!!! This is a decision best not to make lightly. Note: my daughter has since moved away and tried to get her own dog! Her boyfriend could not handle the puppy stage ( no blame intended, it is difficult when two people work all day) so they had to give her back. That was devastating for my daughter at 20 yrs old so imagine your daughters if it does not work out,
    Good luck.

  • Jason Ross

    As you have correctly surmised that you will be the primary caregiver for the dog for what could be 15-20 years, I say stand your ground and say no if you don’t want the responsibility, because it will be entirely your responsibility despite what everyone else in your household claims. Your children are going to move out of the house, and your husband works out of the home. You are going to be dealing with the feeding, cleaning, walking and cleaning up after the dog. If you don’t want that, there’s no reason to have it foisted upon you against your will. It then becomes a hassle and a happiness detriment.

    After our most recent cat passed away, we resolved not to get another pet. My wife developed an allergy to cats while we owned the cat and endured years of misery. I grew up with dogs and cats, so I know what they can bring and also what they take. The kids keep begging for a dog … or a cat … or a pony .. or a hermit crab … or a gerbil … or anything. We say no to all of them and tell them that they are free to get pets when they have a place of their own, because we know the burden of care ends up falling on the adults one way or another, and it’s just another hassle to deal with, especially if you don’t want it.

    To put it more succinctly, when we retired the littler box and the diapers I decided that I was officially retiring from dealing with animal waste — independent of what animal it came from.

  • Dianne Ochiltree

    Not here to tell you whether you should or should not get a dog…but will tell you that bringing a dog into your life both constricts it and expands it. You need to always ever-after schedule daily life so that the dog is watered, walked, fed and emptied at the proper times. The training of you and your puppy will temporarily steal time from other pursuits. But these costs are small in comparison to the expansion of love and compassion and sheer joy in the moment everyone will experience when sharing life with a dog. Children who are raised in a home with a dog learn empathy and responsibility as they share the care for the family’s new pet. My personal commitment is to always have a dog in my life for as long as I can manage it.

  • Dog Lover

    Do not get a dog. I love dogs, and have one of my own, but dogs need (and deserve) daily (hourly) attention, and no one in your household (most of all you) is in a position to give it. Your daughters are in school and undoubtedly have other activities and social lives; you and your husband both work full time and you travel. Your oldest daughter will leave for college soon. You live in an apartment in New York City. The dog will be left alone with nothing to do and no one to be with (much less invest the thousands of hours to train it). So do the dog a favor, and don’t get it.

  • Becky

    Hi there. I love your podcast so much – I have forced my husband (not a podcast listener) to listen to segments and he is certainly better for it. Anyway. As a dog lover in a dog loving household I am a big advocate for the right dog for the right house. I would advise against not getting a puppy. I love the idea proposed by other commenters of getting a rescue dog. You will feel good about giving a loving home to someone in need. As someone who has worked in and out of the home, I still use a dog walker that I love. Having the right dog is like having a child – you can’t imagine how much you are going to love yours until one comes along and some of the logical arguments (taking dog to the vet) seem less important in the face of love. Of course, the dog is your child who is never going to grow up. I love both of the smaller creatures in my house, but my relationship with my dog is less complicated (now that she is 6) – she comforts my son and my husband. She gives so much love and is grateful for every hug, ear scratch and treat. Dogs are a great way to teach kids about unconditional love. Best of luck with your decision.

  • Als

    I know a couple whose life is practically organised around their dog because they don’t want to neglect it, but won’t face up to the fact that it really doesn’t suit their lifestyle. In the UK we view ourselves as a nation of dog lovers, when the simple truth is, there’s no shame in not wanting a dog!

    If I were in your position, I would not get a dog. Aside from the practicalities that you work from home and probably don’t have the time a dog requires (or the space, living in an apartment), if you were to get one, I think you would only be doing it to please your daughters. While it’s admirable to want to give your children everything they want, it goes against your #1 commandment: Be Gretchen. In the podcast you really didn’t sound at all excited by the idea of getting a dog, so if you “force” yourself to get one, I think you’ll find it a burden. You won’t enjoy the dog, there will probably be cross words amongst the family as you try to share the chores that come with owning a pet, and you’ll probably all end up resenting the dog and the issues it brings.

    If your daughters would like more contact with animals, maybe there is an alternative – could they offer to walk a neighbours dog once a week? Is there an animal shelter nearby that needs volunteers?

  • No Dog

    Instead, let your daughters dog sit for people. Though dogs are wonderful (for other people and to visit with…dogs smell funny and funky and are a lot of work. If you have children you don’t need more things that poop, in my opinion as a mom.

  • nancyfeldman

    I vote for getting a dog. You are right, you will become the main caretaker, but you cannot imagine how much happiness that relationship will bring you. Also, a minority point of view, but I recommend getting a young puppy from a reputable small breeder that you can train and most importantly socialize properly to people and other dogs.

  • Janice

    Our family got a rescue dog.
    I was the one in the family against it.
    Shadow is really fun to have and a good companion. Lucky for me, the majority of work e.g. daily
    works, feeding, vet visits, etc are taken care by my husband. The one huge
    drawback is that now we can’t leave for a weekend without advanced planning for
    the dog. Also it feels crummy to leave
    Shadow at the kennel.

  • Carol

    Have you considered doing dog-sitting for friends? My neighbors took care of my dogs when I was gone for a weekend so that the daughter could know what taking care of a dog is all about. If that goes well, maybe consider doing fostering for a local rescue group.

  • Ld

    I can’t recommend getting a dog enough. If you asked me or anyone else in my family to list the top 5 things in our lives, we would say the dog – consistently and unhesitatingly. Also – dogs create and reinforce incredibly healthy and happy habits. They teach responsibility and accountability to younger family members, and they keep you moving. My father and mother both feel that walking our dog is their calmest, most productive and most luxurious time of the day, all at once. And the dog brings us together really effectively too. We love spending time with her, and realistically as a family I don’t know how often we would all get out for a walk together if we didn’t have her. Go for it!

  • Rekha

    We faced a similar discussion about 10 years back and did not get the dog. My son was six or so at the time and even I found him staring at his bedside light one night. I asked him why and he said, “Well if I go blind, I’ll at least need a seeing eye dog.” I told him many people with vision issues also use canes. In our marriage and family life there are two kinds of decisions. Some where the majority can rule, like where we might go to dinner or vacation. But other decisions require unanimity and total buy in, like are we going to move or get a dog. I know there are many benefits but thankfully my husband and kids recognized the burden of care would fall to me–the person who really had not wanted to buy in.

    But whatever you decide, much happiness in your decision!

  • Jane

    My husband was not allowed to have pets growing up because they were too messy and having dogs has been one of his greatest pleasures as an adult. My two grown sons are amazingly compassionate due in no small part to the sweet canines we have had in our house. More importantly one of my wise doctor friends told me that we model to our children how we want to be treated in our old age by the way the treat our dogs. Yes, they are a lot of trouble but isn’t anything that’s truly Get worthwhile? if you choose yes,your family will love you more because of this sacrifice and you will have a wonderful companion. Read Ann Patchett’s article about Rose!

  • Jeanne

    OMG! DO NOT get a dog! The only way you should get a dog is if you are so excited about it that you just can’t wait. YOU will be taking care of the dog, and in NYC to boot! What about when you’re out on a book tour? I see large kennel bills looming. It will need to be walked (and poop scooped) several times a day, and care of a dog just includes too many aspects that you do not enjoy. Wet dog smell in the apartment of one who enjoys lovely smells! I would tell your girls two things. Number one, you’re only postponing a dog – they can get a dog when they are on their own and will be the sole caregiver of it. They can have a dog in their lifetime, just not now. And two, for all three of them – how many extra times a week do they want a harsh tone and the “mean face?” You are not a bad person for not wanting a dog. Just realistic about how that commitment will stress you and impact your relationship with everyone in your home. You, the girls, and Jamie are busy enough. No dog.

  • Heather

    Yes, get a dog! I didn’t want one AT ALL, but after 11 years of begging, my 16-year-old daughter finally prevailed, and we adopted a one-year-old shih tzu on December 26, 2014. His name is Charlie, and he has changed our lives for the better in more ways than I can count. Every single day he brings a huge amount of love, joy, stress-relief, comfort, and laughter into our lives. I never would have guessed how wonderful having a dog would be. My daughter and I both absolutely adore him, and we wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world. Another benefit to having him as a part of our family is that it’s brought her and me closer. By the way, he doesn’t shed, he’s hypo-allergenic, he needs very little walking (because he’s so small), and is generally easier to deal with than a lot of other breeds.

  • Kara Newhouse

    Gretchen, You shouldn’t feel bad about not wanting a dog. I love seeing my parents’ dog when I visit them but I don’t want to take care of a dog.

  • Ann Holmes

    Hello – big fan of the Podcast and first time ‘comment-er’ …
    Loved the piece about tension created over feedback, and immediately thought of my dissertation supervisor. Anytime I send some writing for her review and she makes major changes, I always feel so hurt. I take it personally and then have to talk myself down from being so irritated. She always makes the writing better, but I constantly feel like it’s another silly hoop to jump through before I can complete my doctorate. In the end, I have to remind myself that she is the one with the knowledge and experience, and she is being helpful – that it is my issue, and that I am dealing with the feedback badly. But it is a process. I was glad to hear that everyone feels like this, but that it does make the work better and everything worth it in the end. THANKS!

  • I have brought my two kids up without pets (except a cat we had before they were born and who was around only their first few years). My daughter really wanted a dog and I feel sad both children missed out on the fun and love of having a pet. But there is an opportunity cost. With a pet, we would have had less time and money for other things. Other things were more important to us so we chose them: wonderful family holidays, day adventures around our city, visits with friends, reading books together, talking together.

    More importantly, I wasn’t certain I could give a dog a happy life. I see dogs whose owners adore them and are very affectionate to their them; who take them to the vet when they are unwell, and exercise them. But the dogs spend more time than they would like home alone, they spend holidays in kennels with people and dogs who are strangers to them, they get exercise and time outside each day but nowhere near the optimal amount for their well-being, they get loving attention but less than what they need when their family is busy. My other responsibilities don’t leave me with enough time to provide a dog with a really happy life.

  • Whitney

    I have four cats and one dog and am the sole caretaker of all of them. I love animals, but honestly, if I could wave a magic wand and reduce this zoo to only one cat, I would be much happier!

    I am a woman and my (male) partner does not help with pet care. Our four-year-old daughter loves the animals, and that is why I do not get rid of them (and since I voluntarily obtained all of them, I do feel somewhat morally obligated to continue to take care of them. Why do we have so many? Long story, but we got the dog because our daughter wanted one).

    The only way you should get a dog is if your husband and daughters sign a written agreement to do 100% of the pet care themselves, even if it seems more “convenient” for you to do it at times. However, this will not prevent the dog from peeing on your bed or eating your favorite pen… (in which case, they need to be the ones to take the comforter to the laundromat and buy you a new pen!). But if they honestly commit to taking care if the dog by themselves, I think that would be a reasonable compromise.

    • Jenya

      Somewhat morally obligated to take care of them?

      Also, no written agreement will keep the work-at-home parent from being the one to take care of a pet.

    • Susan Tanner

      Written agreement? No. Just No.

  • Rachel Goldstein

    I vote NO DOG for all the reasons that you gave in the podcast – and one more. Sometimes our minds override what we know in our gut — during the podcast you acknowledged actually DREADING getting a dog — that’s a gut feeling. I frequently have trouble making decisions and the way I resolve them is by listening to my gut. BTW, I’m a dog lover and have a dog and she gives me great joy – but so what. As you say, Be Gretchen.

  • Anne

    I, too, spent a lot of time deciding whether or not to get a dog. As a single mother, my time was stretched to the limit, I had other things I wanted to accomplish, and my daughter was allergic to certain animals. We spent several years discussing whether or not to get a dog and I was always on the fence. But the time came when she was a Senior in high school and I was facing an empty nest and thought perhaps a dog would be another presence in the house. Long story short, we got a miniature schnauzer, Chloe, in the fall that last year my daughter lived at home. Chloe is eleven now and she is loved as a member of our family. She takes up time, money, energy, and just about every other resource I have. My only regret is that I didn’t get a dog sooner when my daughter was still at home so we could have had more years together as a family.

  • Diane

    Gretchen,

    I’m going to post my thoughts about your dog conundrum before I read any other posts. I just got home from my trail walk (without my dog . . . more on that later) and I just finished listening to Wednesday’s podcast.

    I started getting the drumbeat to get a dog when my oldest daughter was about 6 or 7 years old (she’s now 25). I have three daughters and I fought off the dog thing until my youngest was 7 — and she is now almost 22. Yes, I had 3 girls in 3-1/2 years . . . and I was being badgered to get a dog! Didn’t I have enough to do? I caved in late 2000 and we got our “precious” in February of 2001 — a cute, cocker spaniel boy dog.

    Everything you’ve ever heard about whose dog this will be is true. It will be YOUR dog. All the things you said in your podcast are correct. And yes, there are some positive things about dog ownership, to be sure.

    Today, as I write this, my elderly dog is lying on his bed near me in the kitchen. He seems to have lost most of his hearing, he no longer runs to the door when I come home from being out, he no longer barks when the doorbell rings, he has a significant number of “accidents” in the house these days no matter how hard I try to preempt them, he no longer wants to walk the trail with me. I have never taken care of a dog “until the end.” Everyone tells me I will know when the time comes to do the benevolent thing. The point is, everyone (and I mean everyone) has left me except the dog. He has been a good friend to me. Everyone asks me if I will get another dog when the inevitable happens. To be honest, as much as I have loved my dog, I’m not sure. At this point, I have to consider 15 years out from here!

    If you wind up caving to the majority, you will love your dog and he or she will become another part of your family. It just takes a little bit of an attitude adjustment and going into it with your eyes wide open, knowing it will be your dog. IF you can get cooperation from your daughters or Jamie from time to time, that’s a bonus.

    Good luck.

  • reelpam

    Hi Gretchen! I’m a big fan! One of the things I love about you and Elizabeth is your honesty – I identify with you so much! I’d like to throw in my 2-cents about whether or not to get a dog. It seems to me that there is a 3rd answer to the question – “Only if it’s the “right” dog for you.” Since you know yourself so well and do “Gretchen” better than anyone else, a little bit of self inventory will reveal many things to consider. Does my apartment have limited space? If so, then a mellow dog is ideal. Do I want to snuggle with a lap dog? If so, then a frisky breed might not be a good match. How about daily walking? There are some dogs that require more exercise than others. Anyway, here’s a story about my friend who did not want a dog but got one only to please her husband. She cried like a baby when “Brandy” died a few months ago. Why? Because Brandy was the right dog for my friend. Obedient, loving, respectful and just the right size and shape for my friend’s home.
    I can hardly wait to hear what you decide. Thank you for all you do!!

    Best,
    Pam

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the kind words, and the suggestions. Great advice.

  • laura duzyk

    You dont seem ready for all the work of a puppy. However lots of smaller/midsized dogs age 2 and up still look like puppies and have a lot of energy to play with the kids, but don’t chew things up and are most likely potty trained. There are lot of dogs in the pound simply because their owner died or physically couldn’t care for them anymore. Speaking as a former rescue volunteer, be friendly with the volunteers and they can often help fine great options.
    I will also say my girls are only 3 and 5 but they already help take care of our pets. And you could always foster a dog, you would be doing a good thing without the commitment. Good luck!

    • Posey

      That is a great idea. We fostered a sweet yellow lab once who had heart worms and it was a very rewarding experience.

  • C K

    I can absolutely relate to this assay, in both directions, with the same person and the same subject both times. In high school and college, whenever I applied for a new job or summer internship, I would ask my (older, wiser, more experienced) sister to read over my resume or cover letter and give me feedback. Back then, she would tear my writing apart and I would get upset and offended, or feel like she was trying to change the fundamental “me”-ness of the piece. Really, I just wanted her to check my grammar and tell me I was great, but she wanted to push me to be better. Now that I’m in my twenties and working an entry-level job in the same field as her, I’ve asked her to look over my resume and cover letters whenever I apply for a new job, and she just says “it’s perfect, you’re great!” It’s frustrating because I appreciate her support and approval, but now that I’m older and more serious about my career, I feel like I could handle the tough criticism, and wish she’d push me harder so I would have a better shot.

    • gretchenrubin

      A great illustration of this tension.

  • Chelsea

    I would get a dog if you can be the one to choose the specific dog or breed- I have an 18 pound sheltie who is very much like a cat (unless the doorbell rings)– he’s low maintenance and a love bug. Since I work from home I refer to him as my perfect co-worker. He only needs grooming 2-4 times a year, he’s needed the vet outside of check ups only twice in eight years- a very special guy and big part of our family. Owning a bigger breed etc doesn’t make me as happy (unfortunately I found this out when my husband and kids picked out a large mixed breed puppy for Christmas).

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the advice —

  • Posey

    OMG i had the same discussion with my family – for the past year. and i WON! ” i got the puppy i wanted. *sigh* he is a full time handful. He has sort of learned where to potty, but misses the puppy pad by a few inches and waits when we are outside to come back in to potty. it is the most time consuming, distracting, infuriating critter. When im home my entire time is consumed by “NO, dont attack the cat.” “NO, dont jump on the sofa” “NO dont put paws on teh table” “NO dont bark at us at dinner time” And then giving him treats every time he does something good, trying to reinforce the good behavior. Which means you have to have eyes on him CONSTANTLY. I have to tether him to me in the house just so he doesnt demolish anything. And he’s a MEDIUM breed, like shelty size! Maybe your eldest would enjoy the challenge and reward of training. Seeing him learn to sit, stay and heal has been fun. But if it’s going to be up to you, since you’re home, you may want to get a cat. I would recommend Devon Rex 🙂 they like to sleep under the covers and cuddle. and they dont eat socks and underwear.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for weighing in!

  • Carolyn Jones

    Gretchen and Elizabeth, just wanted to give a shout out to you from another Craft sister! I am one of three who grew up in Cali and I love to listen to the intuitive vibe you two have in your conversations – makes me homesick for my sisters!
    Also, wanted to share a clever and somewhat colorful way to help with managing the tension you talked about in the assay. It especially relates to asking for feedback from your loved ones. A friend of mine has coined a term for people who ask for feedback but then react badly to it (defensive, angry, pouty) or, by their response, make it perfectly clear that they had no intention of following the advise or feedback at all. She calls them “askholes”! Isn’t that great?

    Now when I ask for feedback, I remind myself NOT to be an askhole and if a friend or loved one has this tendency, I sometimes gently ask them what they really need from me at the moment – unconditional love or push to be better.
    Thanks again for your awesome podcast – keep making it better! 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for listening – what a great term.

  • Find a dog to dogsit! It’s hard and expensive to find good care for a dog, especially in a city. Is there anyone in your building or friends or family nearby who have a dog? Ask them if they need someone to dogsit! Offer to take the dog into your home when you do dogsit with the goal of forming a long term bond. As a dog owner, I would LOVE that and so would my dog. My dog is slow to warm up to others, but if someone was committed to forming a bond with him, that would be fabulous. Even if the dogsitter is not always available, having that resource would be amazing for everyone involved. Heck, if they want to take the dog to the dog park for the day for me and wear him out, that would be FABULOUS. Take him on a walk once a week! You could even help the girls start a dog-walking or dog-sitting business, focused on acquiring a select few (or single) long-term client. Or commit to volunteering with the girls regularly at no-kill shelter or humane society so they can get their furry fix. Be warned: this may only make them want a dog MORE, but there you go.

  • elizabeth

    Thanks for another wonderful podcast! I agree strongly with all the middle-road advice: consider older dogs or breeds with particular personalities that fit your lifestyle, a experiment phase like volunteering, and lots and lots of research. When my husband was ready to adopt his first cat, we ended up traveling from NYC to Baltimore to work with a particular agency and came home with a 8/9 yr old cat. I can’t say enough about how wonderful that cat was. In our process, I controlled the front end (picked the breed with the personality I wanted, found a rescue organization that was willing to cheerfully accommodate our needs) and then had to let go of control at the back end (my husband picked the cat – and it was not the one I was expecting to go home with!). Controlling the front end, I believe, set us up for success.

  • Jamie L

    I did a photo-a-day project a few years ago – I called it 365 ’til 40. I didn’t get a picture every single day, but I have an amazing scrapbook (of lots of mundane things) that I made for myself to celebrate turning 40. It is one of my most cherished items that I pull out at minimum every year around my birthday and it makes me smile. I need to try that project again, without a special occasion attached, just celebrate life.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific!

  • J.P.

    Ooh, I probably shouldn’t post this under my real name, but here goes… If you have friends who are allergic to dogs they *will* avoid your house. My wife and I are allergic and, apart from the most fastidious of housekeepers, we have to limit visits to about an hour because after that our eyes are itching, our noses are running, and we’re just generally uncomfortable. So, in answer to your question: if you’d like to keep folks who are allergic out of your house, you should definitely get a dog. Otherwise, maybe not.

  • A group of German bloggers including myself are doing a project called “12 von 12” (“12 of 12”), which involves taking 12 random pictures on the 12th of every month and then post them to your blog. It’s a perfect way of capturing every day life, and also very manageable. We take pictures on the 12th, no matter whether we’re at work, at home, on holiday, doing something exciting or something very boring. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but strangely people are interested even in the most mundane.

    I find this easier than taking a picture a day, which I am bound to forget at some point and then I feel like I’ve failed and stop doing it altogether.

    • gretchenrubin

      Love it!

  • Katie Matson-Daley

    I appreciated your suggestion to take a photo each day.

    I’m doing a selfie a day project every day between Christmas 2014 and 2015. In addition to helping me capture some of the every day and extraordinary moments of the year it’s helped me grow in self acceptance and courage. It’s been an incredible practice for my happiness and has helped me connect with people more deeply as I share about the project.

  • ebrasse

    My podcasts weren’t working so am a bit behind here – but do also want to weigh in on the dog question. We’ve had the same discussion at home – with my 8 year old desperately wishing for a dog and my husband and myself definitively saying no to owning our own dog (long work hours, apartment, both have had dogs in the past). HOWEVER we have found a middle solution – which goes beyond the photo on the refrigerator. Our neighbors have a dog and we asked and received their permission to send our son over whenever he wishes to take their dog out for a walk. (We live in Switzerland, so a child of 8 taking a dog for a walk around the neighborhood is the norm.) We actively encourage him to go. The neighbors love their dog walking break. And our son is happy with the very occasional walk… Really can recommend this approach!

  • Jessica Lonett

    I begged my mom to get a dog in middle school. She definitely had to take care of it out of everyone in our family. Later when I was older my mom would hold it over me that I wanted the dog. I later reminded her that I no longer want everything that I wanted in middle school — like that belly button piercing. My mom is a dog person so she didn’t mind and ended up loving the dog the most. Overall I don’t think I would have been missing anything if I didn’t have the dog. It did teach me that dogs/pets are a lot of responsibility and it is helping me as an adult to really think about it before adopting a cute puppy. Plus, taking the dog for a walk in the wintertime in NY is probably going to be less than stellar. Maybe have your kids volunteer at an animal shelter or foster a dog for less commitment to test it out.

  • Krystina

    I say YES! Get a dog. The trick is taking the time to find the right dog for your family. Possibly an adult dog so it is already mature but still can be that fun companion. You may want to look in to training classes, for any dog you get, so that you can match their behavior to fit your lifestyle. And because you and your husband both work maybe you could get a dog with a good, calm temperament that could go to work with you. Then it could still get the attention it needs but without causing mayhem! Good luck and I hope you find a great dog!

  • Sophie

    Gretchen- you don’t need a dog! What you think you won’t like, you probably won’t like. You’re not going to suddenly love vet trips, or cleaning up food and poo. We have had 1 cat for 8 years and that was enough for me. However 2 years ago my husband brought home 2 very needy kittens (both sadly died earlier this year). While I loved them to pieces and was devastated when they died, once I got over the shock I realised how much additional time 3 cats had taken up. You sound like someone who really values autonomy over your own time and I think you already know that a dog, however much you love it, will take that away from you. As a compromise, why don’t your daughters find a neighbour or friend who needs their dog walked regularly? They can get the benefits of a relationship with a dog without you having to look after it. Good luck!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the insights!

  • Jenny Kessler

    FOSTER A DOG!!!!! Just heard your podcast today, and fostering would be perfect for you guys to try it out. I live in NYC as well and there is a HUGE network of awesome organizations you can foster through. You can commit as little as 2 weeks, and choose the kind of dog you want – older, tiny puppy, size, personality, etc. fosterdogsnyc.org is an amazing organization I volunteer with who can match you with a great foster dog. And you can choose to adopt if you love it! Would be good opportunity for the kids to show you their committed and will help to take care of it. And for you to see if you can handle it. We fostered many puppies over the last year and it was a great experience. Zero committment! And HELPING dogs in desperate need!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the idea!!

  • Cara

    I love the idea of taking pictures of everyday life. One day, I realized that me and my twins were all dressed in stripes, so we had to snap a photo of it, obviously to commemorate the occasion. This was over a year ago now and it’s still one of my favorite pictures of the three of us.

    As for the dog question–my husband and I lost our dogs from before marriage 4 months apart from each other. They were 10ish-13ish years old (rescues). We immediately looked for other dogs and then after coming close to adopting realized that with our kids and with our lives now, as much as it pained us, dogs just weren’t in the cards. We LOVE dogs but knew to house break a puppy and toilet train toddlers simultaneously would be a nightmare that we would trade for how our current life is. Only you can make the choice but here are things that we now consider luxuries that we didn’t have when we had dogs: we can plan vacations without worrying about who will watch the dogs, we can stay late at a party or work if we need to, we enjoy rainy and snowy days so much more without having to walk pups, our teetling toddlers are learning to walk without having to get knocked over by dogs, our vacuum canister is never full of hair.
    Trust me, I miss the snuggles, the tail wags, the unconditional love and giving ear/tummy scratches however, there will be a time for it all again.

    Good luck Gretchen!

  • CC

    Do not get a dog. We got one at behest of kids (age 13 and 14) after years of begging. We got a very sweet, smart dog- the best puppy we could ever hope for. But once she was here she took over my life and my life revolved around her. No one else in the house helped with her after the first few days. I couldn’t leave the house without worrying. It was more involved and worrisome than having a baby! It was so bad that we returned the dog after one month. It was very traumatic but returning her was the best decision ever for me. The kids were very sad and will probably have to have therapy later as adults! So don’t get one if YOU don’t want one because it will all fall to you. You will be taking care of it for many years after your children have moved out!

  • molly

    Really, what family who has ever had any interest hasn’t gotten a dog? The family dog! If your older daughter isn’t going to be around much longer, you need to get one soon if you do, so all 4 of you have memories of it as a family. (If she is gone, it could just b/c that weird object her mom attached to in her absence…:)) Also, it is something so fun to look forward to coming home to when you are at college. It will draw her back 🙂

  • Kari Mertz

    When I heard you talk about taking everyday photos, I immediate thought of Ali Edwards project, “A Week in the Life). She pics one week, once a year to document all the big, little and mundane things about their lives. She has a huge following and I think you would love checking it out….http://aliedwards.com/blog

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • chevy49girl

    My blanket is blue. My mom suggested I cut a piece off and sew it into my wedding dress. I couldn’t bear to cut it so I didn’t .

  • Rikilynn

    To dog or not to dog. That is the question. I was in a very similar situation. I have 2 kids that wanted a dog. My son had been through some serious health issues and has always been an anxious child and I felt he sort of needed a dog. But we travel a lot and I knew the reality is that my husband & I would share most of the dog duties. I came up with what I thought was a great solution. I adopted a 7 year old large mutt (some kind of lab/setter/golden mix), since there was NO WAY I was signing up for training a puppy, and thinking that the kids would be leaving home and the dog would be gone at about the same time. I know this sounds unkind, but when I get to be free, I wanted to be free indeed. Well, the joke was on me. I fell head over heels for our dog, Sunshine. I am seriously smitten. And she’s been so good for our son. She brought joy into our home and made us closer to each other. She’s expanded the love in our home. I haven’t regretted it for a moment.

  • Sarah

    I’m getting a puppy in three weeks. I am very excited about it, despite lots of negativity from extended family members. We have carefully chosen a cavalier/poodle cross, supposedly a very sweet and easy type, from a breeder who provided health certificates for the parents and other evidence of being responsible. I’m an animal lover and already have three cats, plus children who are 10 and 7. I figure, how hard can it be? Given that I’m already used to hair everywhere, random puddles, being woken at night, no spontaneous trips etc. It would be far more of a shock for someone who doesn’t already have such things in their lives though.

    • Jenny J

      Sarah, had to comment to tell you – Cavaliers are very… attached (or needy) and Poodles can be a bit hyper.

    • Susan Tanner

      1) Cavalier’s are notoriously bad for heart/lung conditions and a raft of other inbred problems.

      2) No reputable breeder provides cross-bred puppies.

      In spite of the info from the breeder, have you been around this supposedly sweet & easy type? I have several friends with Cavs and they hang on the edge of critical illness even from a young age. Young dogs on anti-seizure meds, oxygen masks, midnight trips to the emergency vet over & over…BAD CHOICE.

      I googled the breed and its congenital predispositions and was appalled. They are trendy right now, but I can’t imagine why. You are being given a sales pitch from a profit-driven breeder. Poodle cross breeds are the current backyard breeder thing.. I am not an extended family member, but I am negative on this breed given the ones I am surrounded with in my small community.

      Your plate is already full and vet care like this is a serious expense – though maybe that’s not an issue. If you seriously want a dog, get a solid, healthy small mutt. You’re asking for trouble with the cavalier. Please google their congenital illnesses. It’s horrible. How hard can it be? Really hard. I suggest you call it off and get a solid rescue mutt.

  • Jenny J

    Gretchen, I listened to you carefully in your big reveal podcast, and forgive me for personalizing, but you sounded resigned rather than happy. Dog parenting (because it isn’t only “ownership”) is not be undertaken half-heartedly. You don’t sound like someone who goes with the flow, and that is what dogs require. It could be like having another child in your life. My experience influenced this point of view. Good luck in any case.

    • gretchenrubin

      You’re right, I don’t go with the flow much – but am still hoping and expecting that our puppy will make my life bigger. I’ll report back!

  • fieryelf

    If you do not want a dog, definitely do not get one. A dog requires the same level of commitment as deciding to have a child; it’s not something to be entered into capriciously. They are beings with their own personalities and emotions, and as others have posted, deserve all the love and attention a desiring person can give them. Having a dog basically means you’ll have another toddler around for a very long time, albeit one who is far, far cuter than a human.
    Another person posted about your daughters volunteering at a shelter, and I think that is a spectacular idea. It will teach them firsthand what a commitment caring for animals takes. Further, it will teach them not to be irresponsible or frivolous about dogs, which is not necessarily something our culture understands.

  • Melissa Minsker

    Elizabeth! I was so relieved to hear that you still sleep with your childhood Blankey. I am 35 and I also still sleep with my Blankey. It has traveled all over the world with me and I can’t imagine a day when I won’t sleep with it. I thought I was all alone in being an actual grown person who still slept with her Blankey. I have friends who still “have” their blankies, but they don’t still sleep with them. Thanks for sharing your story. It made me feel not so alone!!

  • Pingback: Zoikes, We Got a Dog! Welcome, Barnaby. | iDiya.org()

  • Jamie

    OK, I think I posted on another page that I still have my blankie. And I also wanted to comment on this one about Elizabeth having “a plan” for her blankie and taking it to college. Well, I went to a one or two night campout at girl scout camp, and rolled my blankie up into the bottom of my sleeping bag.
    I think I took a hiatus from my blankie in college, but got past caring if people would make fun of me, and started sleeping with it again.

  • Pingback: Podcast 30: Special Guest! My Daughter Eliza, Who Asks: Any Advice for a 16-Year-Old? | iDiya.org()

  • Pingback: 3 Bad Habits That I Use with My Puppy « Positively Positive()