Never owned a dog, but dreaming of the possibility.

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Never owned a dog, but dreaming of the possibility.

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Old 04-21-2014, 11:56 PM
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Never owned a dog, but dreaming of the possibility.

My story begins when I met a glorious golden retriever as a child that I felt an overwhelming connection with.

He was the dog of one of my older sisters friends, and I had fallen for him so much. I played with him and even was permitted to show with him once! (He won!) One night I felt particularly low, I just sat up with him and he just let me hold his paw. Good gosh I know this might sound strange but I had never known such a connection and it had me hooked completely. He was like some huge, golden angel to me, and so after having met him, I wanted a dog of my own, but unfortunately my parents could not afford or have the time to help raise one.

I spent huge portions of my late childhood through my teens dreaming of owning a dog. I spent my pocket money on dog books, breed books, hefty encyclopedias of dogs, and even once bought a toy bone for a dog I didn't even have! (Sad, I know!) I was just so looking forward to having one, training, playing, grooming, walking, and just the whole package.

In hindsight, I completely understand my parents reservations. - Back then, I would have needed their supervision and help. However, now at 27, I feel capable of welcoming a canine companion into my life. However, it is the very difficulties in life that have led to me opening this desire up again - depression and loneliness.

I struggle along with self-employment in an apartment immediately surrounded by beautiful parks and large woodland, though due to my depression, my self-employment has suffered and so getting a dog is pretty much out of the question still. I can barely financially support myself right now, so it's going to be a longer wait until things are reliably stable for me.

I am using just the prospect of dog ownership in the future to help wrench me out of this pit I am in, to help motivate me to get on top of things and see a brighter future for myself. And so for the time being, refreshing my memory on dog care and reading all of your wonderful stories with your own dear companions is the best thing for me.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:33 AM
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Welcome! I also had to wait years before getting my own dog and Im really glad that I did. I would do tons of research and plan out exactly what I wanted to do when I finally got my dog. I found that part extremely exciting and still daydream about one day getting dog number two! (still a few years off)

Are you planning on getting a golden retriever? I used to know someone with one and she was the sweetest thing. She would happily allow me to pet her while wagging her tail non stop!

I hope you stick around and introduce us to your pup when the time comes
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:38 AM
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As someone who also suffers from depression, I find interaction with dogs to be a huge boon. Don't get outside much? Have to drag yourself out of bed? Don't get out and just enjoy the fresh air at the park? Well, guess what. With a dog, you have to. You finally have a reasonable, 'good' excuse to do all those things that you're constantly telling yourself you don't have time for or feel uncomfortable doing by yourself: going for walks, enjoying and afternoon in the park, chatting with strangers, etc.

And I know how you can kill two birds with one stone: Work with pets! I was sort of in a rut after moving back in with my parents up until November. A neighbour had bought a puppy that had grown to the point where it was simply too large, totally untrained and difficult for him to handle. Of course, it wasn't initially disclosed to me why exactly he 'could not find the time' to walk the dog himself... but I managed

At a humble $10/hour, I figured that it wasn't a bad gig considering the 'work' was to take a puppy down to the park and play. And that $10 just to walk one dog for an hour per day adds up to an extra $300/month, which is not a bad perk. Now that people know that I am available to walk dogs (doing distance education right now) I have picked up a few informal clients; friends and neighbours. My next step is actually to get insured, take a canine first-aid course make an official business out of it. On its own you might not scrape by as a dog-walker or a pet-sitter but as fun way to earn supplemental income? Can't be beat. You might even find, if you put the extra cash aside, that you wind up with a good nest-egg to perhaps adopt your own dog.
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Old 04-22-2014, 01:14 AM
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Welcome to the forum! You'll find yourself in good company here -- a significant proportion of the forum's members seem to have some degree of depression or anxiety problem.

It's good to see someone doing their research before jumping into dog ownership. It doesn't fully prepare you for what it's like (kind of like how reading the baby books are not the same thing as calming a fussy baby at 4am), but it gives you a much better framework for what's normal and what's not. Plus, you meet all sorts of interesting people. Dog people seem to be really polarizing -- either the absolute best or the absolute worst of humanity, depending on which corners of the internet you're on.

Dogs and depression can be such a catch-22. On the one hand, I believe with utter certainty that my dogs are the only reason I am still walking this earth. When I felt the beginnings of a depressive episode coming on in 2009, but before I had completely fallen into it, I got my aussies. It kept the Crazy at bay for about another year, or at least slowed my descent into it. On the days when absolutely nothing matters, when I could watch the entire world burn and truly feel nothing about it except a vague sense of disappointment-- even on those days, my dogs still matter. They are something to hold onto. At the very least, they're someone worth pretending for. They make me wish I could be better.

On the other hand, I can't even count the number of times I've watched my dogs sleeping and repeated, "I'm so sorry. You deserve so much more than I can give you." I can deal with the fact that I'm ruining my own life, can even deal with the fact that most of my family thinks I'm just too lazy or self-indulgent to be useful, but it absolutely guts me to look my dogs in the eyes and wonder if I'm failing them, if they'd be happier living with someone else. The same love that makes them a comforting presence also makes them a point of guilt and self-reproach.

And just so you'll be prepared ahead of time when you do get your dog, it is completely normal to have massive self-doubt and even intense regret during the first few weeks. It has nothing to do with depression (even though the emotions are similar) and it's a stage of puppy ownership that almost everyone seems to go through. For proof, run a forum search for the word "overwhelmed" and read through some of the posts that come up. It usually lasts one to two weeks. Longest I've ever heard of it lasting was a month.

If getting a dog isn't in the cards right now financially, have you considered fostering? Lots of rescues will provide all of the supplies and all you have to do is give the dogs a temporary home. That would be a way to build up some hands-on dog experience and get a solid idea of what sort of dog you're most interested in. Plus, you get the feel-good aspects of having a dog without (a) having the extra financial burden or (b) worrying excessively about your emotions' long term impact on the dog. (Although if your depression is the too-emotional kind instead of the apathetic-spiral-of-emptiness kind, sending them to their forever homes might be overwhelming the first few times.)

I'm rambling. It's nice to meet you!
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:31 AM
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Many shelters have dog-walking programs - I have myself participated in those when I've been between dogs. It's a much lesser commitment than getting fosters and you'll get a chance to be with dogs of all breeds/sizes/ages. I'd start with that and then consider fostering a dog before taking the plunge once things look brighter money-wise. Be warned, you'll probable will end up being very attached to some of the dogs you walk.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:58 AM
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I too suffer from depression/anxiety, I think that fostering a dog might be a good idea. The fact that you're waiting until you're absolutely ready to own a dog and doing lots of research shows how responsible you are, i think that when the time is right you'll be a great dog owner!
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:27 AM
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This is a copy paste of what I wrote pertaining to emotional support dogs...

Bo is my emotional support animal. I was in a gas explosion 3 years ago and was burned over 50% of my body, I was in a coma for 6 weeks and was given a less then 5% chance of surviving. I suffer from PTSD, extreme social anxiety and mild agoraphobia. Bo has a natural empathy and instinct for calming me... he will press up against my legs and start nudging me to stroke him which will usually diffuse an oncoming panic attack, he nudges me out of sleep if I'm having a nightmare, he makes me feel safe. I am also legally disabled and have undergone several surgeries to regain the use of my hands, I have 20% use of one hand and 60% in the other hand... I would like to get Bo certified as a service dog but living on a small island off the coast of Spain there are no organizations or training facilities here.

Before I got him I rarely left my apartment and the reason I went to the shelter to get a dog was that if I couldn't go out for myself... I would do it for a dog and that would at least get me outside walking a couple of times a day. I had no idea that Bo would be the kind of dog he is and would improve my life to the extent he has. While my social life still isn't what it was... I can meet friends out for coffee, or go to a restaurant (as long as it's not crowded) I can go to the post office and bank and run errands, if I have Bo with me.

I live in Spain but all of my family live in California and I haven't been back there since the accident but I'm building up to the idea of getting on a plane and the only reason I can consider doing that is that Bo can fly with me.

I strongly ask that people who don't actually need their dog with them in order to function, not pass their dog off as an emotional support animal. It makes it much harder on those of us who do need them. Only 2 animals are allowed on a flight and you could be bumping someone off the flight who really needs their dog. It also trivializes the important function of these animals in the eyes of the general public.

Start visiting shelters/rescue centers... spend time with the dogs, look for a dog that's not jumping and barking but shows interest in you and is calm. You'll find the dog that you connect with and I would recommend in your situation that you get a dog that's at least a year old. Like inkii, I also have days that I feel guilty because I think that my dogs might have had a better life with someone else... but the reality is, there are millions of dogs in shelters and pounds and isn't it better they be in a loving home, even if there are some limitations?
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Old 04-22-2014, 10:07 AM
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Welcome. Everyone has said atleast some of what I wanted to say so there is no point in me really repeating it. I think everyone gave you wonderful advise. This is a wonderful forum with wonderful people and you will definitely find it comforting here. I myself along with others have some depression and lots of anxiety issues. My dog has really helped me since getting him. I LOVE animals. They just seam to always make things better.
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Old 04-22-2014, 10:35 AM
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Welcome to the DogForum! I think it's wonderful that you are willing to wait for a dog, even though you want one so badly. I'm sure when you finally acquire your new best friend, it will have been worth the wait!
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Old 04-24-2014, 03:50 PM
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Oh my goodness thank you all so much! So much incredible input and I'm so glad to meet others with similar issues to me here.

I've just been watching so many videos on dog breeds these past few days, and as much as I hate this, I'm fixated on border collies (of ALL the dog breeds, why this one?! Agh!) - haha, I myself am low energy, so it just makes no sense that I could be lusting after this dog type! They're so ridiculously intelligent and beautiful though, though I'm trying to "wean" myself off of the idea of them on account of how much mental and physical stimulation they need that I could likely not provide.

I'm going to keep myself looking and researching though, and hopefully I can find a breed that could make the best match for me. I would love to get myself to a dog rescue and visit some dogs, even if I end up not taking one home, I need more exposure to dogs of all kinds.
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