Leela is definitely a starter baby. This wasn’t our intention when we adopted her but we consider her our baby girl now.
I’ve never thought of myself as a dog person; I’ve never owned one or had the inclination to play with any canines that belonged to my friends and family. To me, they were all slobbery and stinky. My sisters and I were cat people since we adopted a kitten when we were in junior high school. We named her Babe and she was a total independent diva. With Babe, we simply emptied her litter box and refilled her food and water. We could be gone for hours and she’d be fine. She entertained herself and rarely sought attention from us.
Leela (and dogs in general), on the other hand, is the total opposite. She is completely dependent on us for everything: discipline, affection, exercise, nutrition, and excretion. Our daily routine, weekend activities, and especially vacation plans were all turned upside down once we brought her home.
Leela is incredibly energetic and social. She needs to be walked at least an hour everyday. ST takes her on a 15 minute walk every morning so she can relieve herself. After that, she comes home, has a light breakfast and is sequestered in our third bedroom from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. She has toys, a napping area, water, and diaper pads in there. We have to do this for the time being because she is still not house trained. She has learned to poop and pee on the diaper pads though, which is such a relief.
Anyway, when we get home, she is REALLY hyper. She eats a substantial dinner (Blue Buffalo chicken and brown rice for small breeds and usually roasted chicken and white rice mixed in with that) and either ST or I (usually ST) take her on a 40-50 minute walk (when ST has enough energy, they’re out for over an hour). We let her run off the leash at Sunset Park, which is really muddy right now, so I bathe her every night. Luckily for me, she is an awesome little bather. I have her cleaned and towel-dried in about 8 minutes. Then we play with her/cook dinner/watch TV (lately it’s been Dog Whisperer marathons on Netflix!) until around midnight, when we all go to sleep. ST puts her in her crate in our room and she sleeps there for the first part of the night but by the time my alarm goes off she’s snuggled next to me.
For our upcoming trip to Vegas, we had to find a babysitter for Leela. Surprisingly, we’ve had lots of offers from friends to babysit, but we needed someone who could stay at our apartment. Since we’ve only had Leela for two months and she’s still adjusting to her new home, we felt it would undo a lot of the progress if she stayed somewhere else for a week. Fortunately, I found an awesome sitter who we totally trust.
This summer, we’re planning on a few low-key road trips to Ocean City, staying at a pet-friendly hotel, playing fetch on the beach, and going on long walks on the boardwalk. ST and I would like to go somewhere more distantly located to celebrate our third anniversary, so hopefully by August she’ll be okay to stay with family or friends. But that all depends on how padded our future casa fund is by then.
Speaking of future casa fund, my mom thought our decision to adopt Leela was a bit financially backwards. She’s right; owning a dog is a big financial investment. We adopted her in Texas, so that saved us a few bucks. It costs upwards of $300 to adopt a dog in NYC, not counting an initial doctor’s visit, food, and other supplies. It cost us $60 plus $300 for a doctor’s visit, medication, and all her stuff. My generous in-laws paid for her airfare to NYC.
Currently, it costs $25 per month to feed her – she gets dry dog food, snacks, and a water supplement to help with her funky breath. I’m hoping to lower those costs even more by nixing some snacks now that I know what she likes and hopefully she won’t have stank breath much longer. Additionally, I’m stretching her dry food by mixing it with homemade food.
Despite the emotional, social, and financial commitments that raising a dog requires, Leela is training me to be a good mom. Which makes it all totally worth it.
I hope this post is helpful for anyone out there who is getting ready to adopt a dog!