I adopted little Arnie this past fall and he’s been nothing but a blessing. Well almost. His companionship, affection, and puppy kisses have come with a cost; bags and bags of puppy chow, chewed up shoes, carpet cleanings, and a sharp increase in my sneaker mileage. Ask any dog owner, and they’ll confirm that taking care of Fido is a great joy but also a lot of work.In this current society, women especially, feel the pressure of balancing careers and family life. And while I fully admit that caring for a dog is much less involved than caring for children, I did get a glimpse into the challenges of this fine balancing act. I have a demanding job that I care deeply about, and I also want to provide the best life for my Arnie. Because of these commitments, I had to take inventory of what was practical for me to do, and what areas I needed help with. I came to the following conclusions:
• I need someone to care for, and entertain Arnie during the workday.
• I need someone to help with walking Arnie on the weekends so that I can enjoy both my dog and other activities during my days off.
• I need someone to bathe Arnie once a week, while I complete the second bath on the weekends.
While physically possible, I knew that doing everything for Arnie and the rest of my life would not leave me feeling very fulfilled and likely resentful of the fact of owning a dog. I refer to Arnie as my “little baby” and I wanted to keep it that way.
With that insight, I took the following steps in seeking help:
• Arranged for Arnie to go to doggy daycare during my work days. Monday through Friday, I drop him off on my way into work and pick him up at the end of the day. He gets to run and play, and we’re both happy to see each other at the end of the day.
• Arranged for a dog walker to walk Arnie mid-day on both Saturday and Sunday. I walk Arnie in the morning and evening, and Kelly, our dog walker helps me with the mid-day walk. It’s amazing that this 30-minute dog-free period translates into at least a few hours of side project work. Once again, we’re both happy campers.
• As a white-furred English Bulldog, Arnie gets very dirty, very quickly. I bathe him at home on the weekends, and mid-week, he gets bathed while at daycare.
These three rather simple steps have significantly improved my life with Arnie. I’m less stressed and anxious about getting all of my job and doggie duties completed because I can take comfort in knowing that they are getting done. The time that I do spend with Arnie is enjoyable and I look forward to it as relaxation rather than work.
It bears mentioning that daycare, grooming and dog walking do come with a cost of their own. Daycare is $100 weekly. Weekend dog walking costs me $30. Each groomer-given bath is about $20. Hiring out my dog care certainly isn’t cheap, but the above services and their fees are what I can reasonably fit into my current budget. A few years ago, doggie day care would not have been an option for me because of my financial situation at the time. Similarly, someone else may also be provide their Fido with an in-home dog sitter. For me and for now, that’s not something I have the resources to afford.
Some could argue that I could be saving at least $150 weekly by dropping my hired dog help. The thing is though, that by hiring help, I’m granted the time to increase my money-making abilities. I’m in the position to take on new projects and clients because I have the time. Projects that allow me to make much more than $150/week.
I’ve taken this concept of maximizing my time, earning potential and overall happiness in other areas of my life. I supplement the food that I cook with a weekly delivery of prepared meals. This saves me time cooking and cleaning up the kitchen. I’m now looking into hiring the help of a house cleaner to also help open up my time for the experiences and work I truly enjoy. Again, this is what fits into my lifestyle and budget now, and is something that I have to re-evaluate on a regular basis.
If you happen to find yourself feeling stress around all of your daily responsibilities, I encourage you to review where you may need some help. Tap into the resources that can fit within your budget, for as the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Or a little baby Arnie.