Getting a new puppy comes with a long list of responsibilities. A puppy has to be handled with care and respect; it needs to be feed, exercised, trained, brushed, medicated for fleas, ticks and parasites, taken to the vet-to name just a few tasks. Before getting a new puppy (and yes, it’s such a thrilling, exciting, wonderful experience!) you must educate yourself, and by this I don’t just mean reading a book. You should read several books on dogs or the breed you’re thinking of getting, research online, ask questions to your dog-owner friends and relatives. In sum, you should get all the information you can before making the big decision.

So, do you have the time and resources it takes to care for a new puppy? Stop a moment to think about that. Do you live alone and work outside all day? Would the puppy be alone by itself the whole day? Puppies, by the way, are not ornaments or statues. They need love and attention, just a like a regular two-year old child.

The question, of course, is not only ‘Should I get a dog?’ but ‘What type of dog?” Different breeds have different personalities and you should get one that fits you and your family. Maybe you think golden retriever puppies are the most gorgeous creatures in the planet, but if you’re the sedentary type who hates walking and don’t have the means to hire a person to walk your golden, getting this type of dog would be crazy, since golden retrievers are very active and need to exercise at least an hour a day when grown.

A lady who lives down our street bought a golden puppy a few months ago. She lives alone and works out of the house all day. So far, I’ve seen her walking that dog once. Well, all I can say is my heart goes out for that poor dog. Goldens are incredibly sensitive animals that need human company and attention, not to mention the exercise issue. I have to wonder, what was in her mind when she bought the dog? In my opinion, it’s mostly ignorance, lack of information before buying a pet.

Another family I know bought a Labrador retriever puppy last year. (Their young teenaged son had been asking for a dog for ages-classic story). The puppy began peeing all over their apartment. Because they knew very little about training, they didn’t know what to do about it, so eventually they returned the puppy to the store. I’m sure those readers who own Labrador retrievers will be flabbergasted by this. Labradors are highly intelligent and amazingly quick learners. Did they expect the puppy to teach himself to ‘go potty’?

To give one last example on how important it is to educate yourself before getting a puppy, let me tell you this final story. Another lady I know got a puppy a few months ago from a friend whose dog had had pups. I called her a couple of weeks after she had got the puppy to ask her how it was going. She said: “It’s going great, but I can’t get rid of its smell. It really stinks. I’m giving it a bath a few times a week but it reeks!” Bathing a dog a few times a week? Who on their right mind does that? If she would have taken the time to read a book or two, she would know that some dog’s coats have a special oil to protect their skin and to serve as a shield against dirt and water. It’s this oil that smells, not the dog. But what she ignored is that, the more she washes him, the more oil he’ll exude and the more it’ll stink. So she was actually making him reek by washing him so often! Not to mention that she was also harming the dog by possibly causing skin disorders and even illness (it was winter).

As you can see, it’s important for a prospective dog owner to be informed, and to pass that knowledge to the whole family-especially to children-before owning a pet.

We talked and talked about getting a puppy for three years before we finally took the big step. By then I was an amateur ‘expert’ on dogs and had passed on most of the vital information to my husband and kids. When problems arose, I knew exactly what to do, and if I didn’t, I immediately called the vet or made research online. I love my golden retriever, Amigo. He’s a bright, shining star in our home, a marvelous gift to us. He depends on me and I won’t let him down.

Please don’t let your new puppy down. Educate yourself.

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author, reviewer, dog lover, and animal advocate. A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and American Chronicle, she is also the author of CRASH!, a children’s picture book about a little boy and how he learns to care and find the perfect name for his new golden retriever puppy. Check out her ‘Crash the Puppy’ blog at

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