Mountain Dweller

writing

Here to bring light to the issues that people sweep under rugs to bring healing to those who can't find their own words for their experiences and to promote change through individuality. 

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Life of a Dog Parent

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted on a community Facebook page about doing a write up on the “joys and struggles of being a dog parent” and wanted to speak to some dog parents about this topic….well apparently she got a little overwhelmed with volunteers so here is my version!

As many dog owners know, not every trail, park, or place is dog friendly and if you’re parents like us, you a) don’t want to leave your dogs behind and b) specifically plan your day around them. Any dog parent will tell you that their dog is their whole world, that they would do anything for them, however not everyone has to revolve their world around their dogs’ needs. For example, french bull dogs don’t need exorbitant amounts of exercise, giant breeds such as great danes would rather lie around the house, and pocket sized dogs most certainly don’t need four mile jaunts in the mountains. This isn’t to say that there are exceptions, that people still don’t incorporate their dogs into their plans for the day, however it becomes a different requirement when you have breeds such as border collies or golden retrievers. Point blank: there are some dogs that need more exercise and some that don’t; there are also some dogs that couldn’t care less if they own the house all day while there are some that count down the minutes they don’t understand, awaiting your arrival home, and hope that you don’t leave them again for the day. So for the sake of this article, I am going to speak more for those who have high maintenance dogs that required a lot of attention, a lot of exercise, and a lot of your time.

We are two proud dog parents to a border collie/aussie mix and a dingo mixed with god knows what (we think heeler/coyote) and they are the definition of high maintenance. Our border collie is emotionally needy but has reached a stage in life where he is comfortable lounging around the house while we work whereas our dingo mix is young, firey, and a pain in the ass. She has major separation anxiety so making sure she gets ran before work is usually a priority and even when we do tick that box, we still come home to a messy home. To top all of this, I am an obsessive dog-mom who doesn’t like to spend her free time without the furbabies and tries to get them out of the house as much as possible. I personally like to be outside of my home as much as possible (unless it’s raining).

So here is what we’ve done to help incorporate our dogs into our social lives so that we aren’t missing out on things that we care about:

  • Dog friendly breweries - living in SLC, there are actually way more bars/breweries that allow dogs than you would expect! We personally love Fisher Brewery and T.F. Brewery; usually the patios are dog friendly and yes, even with a food truck on site, your dogs are still welcomed!

  • Dog friendly restaurants - the list is growing more and more with each passing year! We’ve enjoyed dinner at Wasatch Brew Pub in Sugarhouse and plan to check out The Park Cafe which offers a dog friendly patio for brunch! That is just a small list of what is available though!

  • Dog friendly parks/trails - while Salt Lake does offer a number of parks that are dog friendly, we love to hit the trails more; there is an entire canyon that’s dog friendly here in the valley and we often find ourselves in Park City aka Bark City!

  • To find these locations and other dog friendly places, I highly encourage you to take a look at www.dogfriendlyslc.com as she is putting together an active list of dog friendly everything!

Now it’s time for the hard stuff: guilt, annoyance, and choices. I don’t want to sugarcoat life with a dog, because owning one transforms your life whether you intend for it to change drastically or not. The first time I brought Zuke, our border collie mix, home, I cried like a freaking baby two feet from him on the couch. I didn’t want to touch him, I was freaking out about what I had just done, and I felt like I had just signed off on a death wish. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to give him the life he deserved, I was terrified to raise a dog on my own (my partner had not yet been apart of the picture), and I was terrified of all that I had just lost by adopting him. No more late nights out with friends, no more careless schedules, my freedom felt like it was robbed. I lost friends because of him, I left jobs because of him, I couldn’t find places to live because of him - it was a huge adjustment, one that I would never go back and change.

While it was scary, it very quickly became worthwhile and my whole world soon revolved around his little paws. I had the perfect excuse to leave parties and nights out, I altered what I ate so that he could have some nibbles, I even stopped hiking/riding my favorite trails for him: if he couldn’t come, I didn’t want to go. Now, almost two years down the road from the day I rescued him, my life has very much changed in a way that when I look back and reflect on it, I feel saddened but how skinny I used to be, how free my time was, how social I used to be. Yes, it has all changed for the better, like having other dog parent friends, making dog play dates apart of life, being “that person” at the dog park but sometimes I go home and wish I didn’t have to take the dogs for a hike. Sometimes I wish I could go home and relax or take off for a hike that I haven’t done in years but my guilt is too strong. Even raising our second dog with my partner has been tough - we are both very active outdoor people who need to get our daily whatever in. Sometimes we want to ride 12 miles, sometimes we want to swim at our pool. sometimes we want to go have dinner and date night for all of the remaining hours after we get off work. But that’s not the choice we get to make anymore.

I grew up with a dog my entire life but I never really understood all the aspects of being an owner, after all, I was just another kid in the family and I didn’t have to worry about vet bills or making sure the dog was walked, my parents took care of all of that (besides the dog walking, we still did that but without understanding the necessity of it). The first dog that I ever adopted was with my ex boyfriend who ultimately robbed me of her when our relationship came to a close, thus prompting me to fill the void by adopting a new puppy that would be solely mine. I had always known that I wanted a dog, it’s what I was used to, but it really forced me to grow up.

There is a living being that depends entirely on YOU and that is a huge, huge responsibility. Any dog owner would be lying if they said that their dog didn’t inconvenience them at some point; I think being able to admit that truthfully speaks more about you as a parent than pretending that life is grand, golden, and glittered all the time. You come home to shit all over the house, to your favorite jacket ripped to shreds, the walls being chewed on, guitar cords chewed into tiny pieces, the blinds being ripped off and broken down into tiny fragments. You want to scream and cry and give up. But….then they snuggle you in bed, they bring you their favorite toy when you’re upset, they do literally everything in their will power to make you happy. It’s in those moments when all the bad is replaced by good and you find yourself thanking the lord that they are not human children who you have to raise for eighteen years, eleven of them being non-stop talking back years.

Share your thoughts, comments, and experiences below!