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5 things you give up for a puppy: part one

19 July 2011

The Opportunity Costs of Puppies

For an eight-month-old Great Dane puppy, our Luna is pretty good most of the time. She’s added a lot to the family unit; floppy ears, a big black jujube nose, two painfully sad eyes, the innocent playfulness we loved when OD was a toddler, and stoic faithfulness that you only find in 60-year-marriages.

Puppy ownership, though, is addition by subtraction. There are opportunity costs. You give up a lot to get a puppy. It wasn’t hard to come up with a list of five pretty important things that apply to most puppy owners. Here are the first two:

1. Freedom

A puppy is a tether. It’s is a tie that binds you very closely to wherever your dog is.

Your freedom decreases as soon as your new friend comes home because you can’t leave a young dog for long by itself.

Unless you’ve got friendly neighbors you can trust, you’re strictly limited to the time that you can be out of the house. The maximum time that we’ve left Luna alone in Azkaban is about 5.5 hours.

The risk of extending your curfew is returning home to a mess that needs cleaning. Unavoidable puppy accidents “mark” the early days by marking your flooring.

2. Sleeping in

Sadly, puppies don’t share the human joy of sleeping in. Basically, we haven’t slept in since Luna’s January arrival. (When I say sleeping in, I mean any time past 6:30am).

Should your puppy develop–as Luna has–a kind of mental connection (think Harry Potter’s mental bridge to Lord Voldemort) to the atomic clock in Colorado, you’ll be rising at the same time as the American farming community. This connection triggers something in Luna’s mind that awakens her so much earlier than biologically necessary.

In the past five months, Luna has become so reliably dependable that I’ve given up even setting my alarm. Every morning around 5:45 pm, I awaken to the dependable sound of paws and strong nails scratching at the door to Azkaban. I open my eyes and lurch downstairs to open the back door so the puppy that doesn’t believe in the virtues of sleeping in can do her first potty of the new day. I also give her one cup of kibble. Ten minutes after waking me up, Luna climbs the stairs to fall back to sleep.

If thriller writer John le Carré, author of bestsellers such as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, profiled Luna for “The Sunday Times” of London, the title could well be The Dog Who Rises Early.

Tomorrow, I’ll post three more things you give up when you choose to add a puppy to your home.

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