To Have a Pet or Not?

“Your mother needs a dog,” RG Daughter’s summer job boss told her.

“There are SO MANY dogs in your area that are up for adoption that would be great for you,” says RG Daughter on this night, as she peruses the online options in Florida from her dorm room in Colorado. So easy for her to say….

I had a dream last night that I owned a calico cat, and she was so sweet and soft and cute. When I woke up, I half expected her to be curled up at the foot of my bed, because the dream was that real.

RG Daughter said this evening, “No, you need a dog. One that can walk and run with you.”

She has a point. Everyone has dogs here. I could meet people at the park, at the beach, on the street–if I had a dog.

But they require so much maintenance. True, I would walk a dog to sleep, as far and as long as I can walk, and now run. Also true, I work restaurant hours, for God’s sake. Doubles. No breaks. Welcome home little pup–you have to spend the next five days in a crate! Somehow, I don’t think that is fair. To either of us.

And as I come home after 12 hours on this stormy night, only to find the tiny-sized brother/sister lizard of the one I tossed out of my apartment last night, I wonder three things: Should I name this one and keep it? Should I get a cat that will surely kill it? What do I know from dogs, and how do they feel about lizards?






21 responses to “To Have a Pet or Not?”

  1. Nicole Avatar

    My opinion, you dreamed of the cat, go for it. I am a cat owner and I work in the business. It is a pain and a half to have to use your double break to let the doggie out. As for the lizards: lizards eat bugs, cats kill lizards, kind of like the circle of life.

  2. Zazzy Avatar

    Lizards are nice and will keep the bugs under some control. Of course, I don’t know if you can litterbox train a wild lizard.

  3. Willow Avatar

    I have fostered pets for the local SPCA and have five cats of my own. Get a pet which fits your lifestyle. As you describe your life right now, a dog isn’t a good fit. A cat would be better. They’re excellent companions. (As I write this, my own calico is resting on top of the pillows behind my head.)

    I’ve found through personal experience that cats who have had kittens are extra sweet. A pregnant cat is typically very affectionate, and cats who have weaned their kittens and are through with mothering retain that sweetness. Look for a little calico who has recently had kittens (and most importantly, who has been spayed). Shouldn’t be hard to find her now that kitten season is winding down. Mother cats are usually at a disadvantage adoption wise, as they’re competing against kittens for a home.

    Most shelters are online now, or there is always Petfinder. Go look at pictures and pick out a sweetie to make your very own.

  4. Junior Avatar

    i’m a cat man..

    I have 2, Samson and Delilah..

    greatest acquisitions I have ever made..

    IF you got yourself a dog, I would get one that had to be given up by someone..

    An older dog would fit your lifestyle.. I have many friends in the hospitality business who have dogs, they work 12-14 hr days…

    they have a doggie door or a VERY well trained dog..

    Hope you find what you like!!

  5. Tinker Avatar

    Greyhounds. Greyhounds are always up for adoption, they love to run, they are great pets. You have a picture of one Right up there. I’d suggest a cat, but your subconcious already took care of that, must be the Orbital Mind Control Lasers, doing their job.


    As a bookstore manager I work crazy 12+ hour shifts especially during the holidays. I have two cats and they are always thrilled to see me when I walk in the door and never tear up any of my furniture or pee on things when I am gone!

  7. Julie Avatar

    When I lived alone I had two cats. One would sleep with me most every night while the other played. My cottage was somewhat isolated, and It was nice to think “it’s just the cat” when things went bump in the night.

    If you do decide to get a dog, they have mats that can go on the floor. They’re scented so that dogs will want to use that area for peeing and pooping. I think they’re used for training, but I met someone who used them whenever she was going to be out for a long time. (She had small dogs.)

  8. K Avatar

    Or, cat that barks – a mini-dog or something.
    But really, a cat. There’s nothing like coming home to a purring little ball of fur that lays with you, that you don’t have to walk (though litter boxes do suck), and that is easy.
    Mind you, you could get one of each – kitten and puppy, then they have each other and you can walk one, and have them take care of each other during the day.
    and/or cat that barks 🙂

  9. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Far too much maintenance – any pet. Prefer my kids. Mostly.

  10. taotechuck Avatar

    It’s not hard to find reputable dog-walkers for your long shifts. My dogs regularly go 8-9 hours without a walk while I’m at work, and they only have problems when they’re sick. (I’ve pushed my dogs to 12+ hours, but only in emergencies.) Contrary to what some people think, crates are not inhumane — provided they’ve got toys, a comfy doggie bed, and water.

    You could try fostering a dog. There are many rescue organizations that need people to care for dogs until a permanent home is found. Often, food and vet bills are provided. Some rescue organizations even have a network to help with difficult schedules, i.e. another foster parent might walk your dogs on days you work 12 hours.

    A few points to consider about fostering:
    1) You seem to be conflicted between whether you should get a cat or dog. This gives you a chance to try a dog with no long-term commitment. (I assume you can also foster cats, but I don’t know.)
    2) Don’t assume small breeds are easier. Many large breeds are calm and well-suited to apartment life. (One of my dogs is a St. Bernard, and she requires far less space and exercise than my smaller dogs.) Research the right breed for your lifestyle, whether you foster or adopt.
    3) If you have the temperament to care for injured animals, some rescue organizations deal primarily with dogs who came into shelters with injuries (often broken legs).

    If you want more info on fostering, let me know. That writing gig I got a few months ago was about fostering dogs, so I’ve got a ton of resources I could send to you.

  11. Paul Avatar

    Go for a dog. Get a terrier mutt from the ASPCA or somewhere. It won’t get too big (mine’s about 35 Lb), it won’t be tiny (you don’t want somthing you will dress up and think of as a baby – crazy dog ladies are even worse than crazy cat ladies), and it will instinctually attack the evil lizards that are out to get you.

  12. jali Avatar

    My vote (as if I actually had a vote) is for a cat. A cat can adjust to your work hours as long as there’s food and fresh water available to her. (I like chick cats the best). An attack cat can and will protect you if needed. Cats also train humans fairly well. (smile)

  13. Jaime Avatar

    lizards will help take care of the bugs for you.

  14. Lana Wood Avatar

    When I saw the title of the post, my first reaction was yes, you need a pet. A dog is great, and they do help you mingle since you HAVE to go outside when you have one. But you are right, they require a stable home environment. Dogs are pack animals, they need people around. Also, they tend to use carpets,not litter boxes when left home alone duringa double shift. A kitty is fine at home alone. Get a kitty. It is nice to have someone who is glad to see you when you get home, and who worships you becasue you can work the can opener. If you need any kitty procurement or care tips, feel free to drop me an e-mail. Last thing- I always get my pets from the pound, and highly recommend it to everyone.

  15. Katie Avatar

    No, it’s too much work. But then again I’m lazy and gone from 7 something every day to midnight at the earliest. That would just be cruel.

  16. Restaurant Gal Avatar

    What is a Gal to do? So many ideas and opinions. Still pondering the whole thing. I did go online to peruse the shelter animals. Dog or cat–no kittens or puppies for me, given my schedule. One of each was an interesting comment! Oh, and for the record, I’m not so much afraid of the lizards as I am startled by them. I definitely view them as the good guys. I just don’t want them napping in my shoes!

  17. Mary Avatar

    Try a monitor lizard 🙂 They can be litter-box trained (I think) and I know they can be leash-trained; a friend’s daughter had one. They might be a guy-magnet, too — dunno

  18. Artful Dodger Avatar

    Hmmm…dogs and cats? I have both. My dog would eat the lizards as well as my cats. But from experience older animals are much more obedient and less stressful if they are adopted. They have an I’ll do anything for you attitude cause I’m not coming back here thing going on. Or so the animals I have anyways. I’m sure you’ll make a good choice with our without a new pet.

  19. m Avatar

    A dog changed my life. There was a time when life was filled with loss, and the best dog in the world came into my life to say that hey, things are pretty fun around here. She’s old now, and still knows how to make me laugh.

    Benefits to dogs:

    Funny. Lovable. Good intro to meet people. Good excuse to leave early. Good listener. Melts your heart with those eyes. Makes noise when people knock. Gobbles up spilled food -saves money on paper towels. Lets you know who is boss. Happy to see you. Pure heart. Best friend forever.

  20. Zizi Avatar

    The last thing I would do is get a Terrier, as someone else mentioned. They are a very high energy breed that can get destructive if left alone with too much time on its paws. As someone else mentioned they have a St. Bernard, I have a Great Pyrenese and live in a small apartment. He goes out twice a day and sleeps the rest of the time. When it’s time to walk/play, he’s always up for it.

    So, just research away, temperments and talk to the rescue organization on the personality of the animals. Also, remember, that since you’re renting, it is often a lot harder to rent with a pet (especially a dog) than it is without. Depends on your area, of course.

  21. Nick Avatar

    Let me first say that I am a huge dog lover. My lab is my best friend and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. But – I think your lifestyle really fits a cat. Working long shifts and not being home is not conducive to a dog. I think you need to put the needs of the dog vs. the needs of the cat into your equation.

    I would also second the vote to go to the shelter for your cat. Both of mine were shelter cats and are great. Plus – adult cats are the least adopted animals out there. Nice story that I heard was about a cat that I saw at the local Petsmart. Shadow (all black cat) had feline AIDS and was looking for a home. I couldn’t take him because of my two girls and I would go in week after week – but nobody seemed to want to give this great boy a home. I went back after a month and Shadow wasn’t there. Fearing the worst – I asked one of the workers what happened. Apparently there was a group home / hospice for people dying of AIDS. One of the workers adopted Shadow to be the house cat. Knowing that he would be loved and brighten the day of some people who needed it most just broke my heart.

    Pets are magical. I hope you find room in your heart and life to have one.