Life in Williston

To puppy or not to puppy

Feb. 9, 2012

By Karen Wyman


During the past few weeks, my household has been captivated by a big debate. Unlike most of America, our discussion doesn’t involve potential U.S. Presidential candidates. It involves an emotional and life-changing decision: to get a puppy or not to get a puppy.

My twins are pulling out all  the stops to convince my husband and me that we “need” a puppy. Those of you who have spent time around toddlers are probably well aware that the difference between need and want is totally lost on them. They truly believe that our family is not complete without the addition of a dog. Mind you, it’s not that we don’t have a pet. We have Bailey, a 10-year-old Maine Coon cat who I rescued as a kitten. There was also a brief stint with a hamster, but I regret to say that Chewy Monkey is no longer with us. So it’s not like my girls don’t have something furry to love — it’s just that it’s not a dog. Despite their repeated efforts, Bailey absolutely will not walk on a leash or roll over on command.

It is great to raise a family in such a pet friendly community. Williston is home to various veterinary practices, pet supply stores, boarding facilities, training facilities and rescue organizations. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have a designated dog park, but most trails and parks have pet disposal bags available (indicating that pets are welcome). It’s always nice to drive around town and see many people out walking their dogs. I know my girls would love nothing more than to show off their dog by marching it in the Dorothy Alling Library’s annual pet parade.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that my husband and I don’t like dogs — it’s that we aren’t sure a dog would be the best fit for our family right now. We sometimes work extremely long days, and we love to book last minute, out-of-town getaways. These factors aren’t conducive to owning a dog. I know first-hand that the joy a pet brings to our lives is priceless. However, the actual maintenance of a pet has a definite price. My cats’ grooming appointments cost more than my own hair appointments! Plus they truly become a part of the family, and it’s impossible to put a price tag on how much I would be willing to spend on them. Having our fair share of health scares and high veterinary bills with Bailey, it is apparent that there is no limit to what I would pay to save her life. I’m not saying that pets are always financial burdens to families, but it is definitely something that must be considered. I ‘m sure we all know many people who have had to pay thousands of dollars for various pet surgeries. When I adopt a pet, I want to commit 100 percent to it and give it the best life possible. Right now, my husband and I aren’t ready to pledge that to another pet.

I have to admit though; it is a little fun to listen to the girls lament over so desperately “needing” a dog. They have promised to eat their vegetables every night for the rest of their lives if we get one, and they have also promised they will be the dog’s sole care providers. How cute is it that two little people who can’t even tie their own shoes think they will take care of a dog all by themselves? We don’t believe that a pet should be used to teach children responsibility — we want the children to already prove they are responsible before obtaining their pet. I think my 4-year-olds have quite a long way to go before we reach that point!

For now, we will continue to shower Bailey with love and attention while the debate over a puppy rages on. If somehow, we do miraculously come to satisfying terms for both parties involved on this issue, we promise that next we’ll tackle healthcare policy.


Karen Wyman has been a Williston resident for six years, and lives with her husband and twin 4-year-old daughters.