People are usually surprised when they find out that as a professional dog trainer I don't actually have any pets. I haven't conducted a poll, but I bet that's pretty unusual!
As a child, my family had a Dachshund named Max. Dad had gotten him for Mom shortly after they were married. Not surprisingly, Max was difficult to housetrain and between moving to a brand new home with brand new carpets, and having twins, he got demoted to the backyard. Max passed when I was about 7 years old, and my parents made no move to fill that gap. They wisely realized that with a growing family, they didn't have the time to care for a dog.
I loved dogs, though, so my sister and I started dog sitting. I can't believe anyone actually hired a couple of 9 year-olds to care for their beloved dogs, but they did. We moved once more, and gained another brother---bringing the total to five kiddos. Slowly, the dog sitting turned into dog boarding at our new home (with new hard surface flooring). That was 12 years ago.
We've cared for a lot of dogs since then, but we still don't have any dogs of our own. Why is that? For many years, it wasn't my choice. Remember I said my parents wisely realized they didn't have time to care for a dog? They recognized who would be responsible for the dog (not the kids!) and didn't want that responsibility.
"But, Leighann, you're an adult now, so why are you still dog-less?"
My parents taught me well! I recognize how much of a commitment having a dog is, and I'm not ready for that. A dog isn't something you just slide into your life and then continue as before. They need help to toilet where they're supposed to, and they don't come with pre-installed Good House Manners hardware. They can't run to the store for their food, toys and equipment, and they definitely cannot take themselves to the vet. I mean can you imagine trying to park the car without opposable thumbs?! Without assistance, their quality of life is horrible and your house gets destroyed.
So, who are the handsome devils above? Those are my experiences with the dog-owner life: Rocky and Legend were my two fosters for Service Dogs, Inc. Rocky was first in summer of 2009, and then Legend came in spring 2011. They stayed with us for three months straight as part of their training. I love to talk about them and what I learned from them, so ask me about it next time our paths cross!
Coming next week: No Dogs Of My Own, Part 2