While I’m not in college anymore, I did get my dog Oliver during my final year at my university. I just graduated this past June, so this is all pretty fresh! To start off, a little bit about why I even got a dog in the first place:
Growing up there was never a time in my life that my family didn’t own a dog. When I was born my parents had already owned a chocolate lab, and after he died my mom hopped on it and got another family puppy a week later. A year after that, we adopted another dog to then have two in the family. Needless to say, we’re major dog people. When I moved out to go to college, that was the first time in my life that I didn’t have a dog roaming around at home with me, and I really missed it. Three years went by and it was reeaallyy starting to bug me. Cisco and I had already lived together for over a year by that point, so I made the executive decision (for the both of us…sorry Cisco) that it was time to get a pup. To be fair, Cisco did want a dog! He was just a little nervous and wasn’t sure if he was really ready, but it all worked out. All throughout December of last year I was frantically searching online to see who was out there. I knew we needed a smaller dog because our place isn’t huge (however, adopting a big dog is probably in my future somewhere), and I wanted to get one before my winter break was over and school was starting up again. A couple weeks before Christmas, I came across a litter of four Boston Terrier pups (hi, I am one of those people who likes the smushy-faced dogs. They’re not for everyone and I’m fine with that!) Long story short, we went to pick him out, reserved him until he was old enough to take home, and then went and picked him up two days before Christmas. He was 8 weeks old and the best Christmas gift ever!
Now, getting into the challenges of owning a puppy while going to school full-time and also working 30 hours a week… I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT easy. But, assuming you’re choosing to get a dog because you love dogs, then you need to know that it’s 100% WORTH IT. I confided in my coworker before I made this big decision, because she was also a full-time student with a job, and she said the exact same thing. Completely, utterly, worth it.
What makes it so hard anyway?
Well, at 8 weeks old, they may be able to walk around, play, and eat all on their own, but they’re still just babies. There are a few things that I think a lot of people overlook when they’re interested in getting a puppy. One big thing is that they’re expensive. Pet supplies, food, vet bills, training, and so on. It all adds up! However, me being a big online shopper, I do have to say that the website Chewy really helped me out. They pretty much have everything and anything you need for your pet. Definitely spent a little more than I’ve needed to on that website…whoops. However, besides money, taking care of a puppy isn’t all fun and games. There’s a lot more that goes into it!
(BY THE WAY, I am not a dog expert in any way. My dog is not even very well-behaved lol. These are just my experiences with taking care of him)
First, they need to use the bathroom literally every one or two hours.
If you don’t have a yard and want to potty train your pup to go to the bathroom outside, you’re spending a lot of your time taking them outside, waiting for them to sniff around, pee, and finally going back inside. THEN, you repeat the process all over again the next hour. It’s tough work man. However, pee pads are great if you don’t have an accessible place for your dog to go frequently. Some dog trainers discourage pee pads, some don’t. It’s all just preference. But it helped us a lot when it would be pouring rain (thank you, Seattle) and we wouldn’t be willing to stand outside for 20 minutes waiting for Oliver to do his business.
This was also tough because Cisco and I couldn’t really leave him alone for very long during the day. If we did, he would poop in his crate, step on it, and get it everywhere. Every time we tried to set up a gated area with pee pads, food, water, etc., he would escape. Every. Damn. Time. Luckily, during this time, our schedules worked out pretty well. I would work/have class during the day and Cisco would work in the evenings. So, someone was usually always home for Oliver. We definitely would not have been able to do this without these schedules, and I’m very grateful we were able to make it work.
Puppies need ALL of your attention.
I’ve seen very calm puppies before, and it looks like a dream. Oliver was not a calm puppy. When you’re in school it’s great to be able to come home from classes, relax a little, and then crank out some homework. NOPE. I would come home, have to clean up whatever mess Oliver had made for the one hour that Cisco had been gone for work, and then play with the little guy until he finally tired out. Most of the time my homework was interrupted with him wanting to play, having to take him out to use the bathroom, and so on. What would usually be two hours worth of uninterrupted homework would be extended to five or six. My time would be gone.
Cisco and I also had to say no to a lot of things we were invited out to. Leaving Oliver home for x amount of time was just not ideal. We had to work with his bathroom/sleep schedule the best we could to avoid any trouble. For the first few months, it really was all about him.
Say goodbye to a good night’s sleep!
Oliver cried every night because 1) we initially put him in his crate on the floor by our bed, and he hated being alone, and 2) because he would need to go to the bathroom so frequently and couldn’t hold it. We’d be getting up every few hours in the middle of the night to put him on his leash, head outside with him, and wait for him to go so we could get back to bed. Standing outside in the cold at 3am is not ideal, I can tell you that.
I’m also going to admit that we’re pretty bad at training/being strict with Oliver. We started bringing him up on the bed to sleep with us after just a few weeks because that would make him stop crying. This way, we could sleep through night and not have to listen to him whimper for hours. In our eyes (at the time) it was a win-win. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing this with a non-potty-trained pup because you’ll be washing a loooot of bed sheets. Also because Oliver is slightly spoiled now (meaning…totally spoiled). There are definitely more effective and organized ways to deal with puppies at night. Pretty sure every single dog training video we watched said not to do this. BUT I can assure you, your tiny puppy sleeping in between you and your significant other is probably the cutest thing of all time. Cleaning the pee off the bed sheets every time he had an accident was worth the cuteness. Puppies just don’t know any better!
So…is it really worth it?
As I said before… yes, yes, and yes. Oliver is the first dog that is fully my own responsibility. He’s not a family dog that my parents end up being primarily responsible for and I would just get to play with whenever I wanted to. There’s something about taking on a big responsibility like that that makes it so much more special. I’ve said this before in my very first blog post, but Oliver is truly like my actual child. He’s a troublemaker, but he’s also filled with so much love and joy. Dogs are so pure and special to me that being around him makes me so so happy. I’m sure you’ve heard people say this before, but YOU are your dog’s whole world. And their excitement shows that! The mutual love is truly everything.
While getting a dog while you’re still in school is undoubtedly a lot of work, it’s completely doable if you’re dedicated and your schedule is somewhat flexible. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with waiting to make sure your pup is getting what they need. Cisco (who was not in school at the time) and I made a pretty good team with the way our schedules fit together, which is why we made the decision to get Oliver in the first place.
There’s still MUCH more I could say, but in order to keep this from becoming ridiculously long, I’ll end it here. I hope this gives some good insight on anyone looking to get a dog!