09/09/2017 9:25 AM IST | Updated 09/09/2017 9:25 AM IST

5 Things You Must Think Hard About Before Bringing A Dog Home

Be very sure that you are up for the responsibility.

Mayur Kotlikar

The biggest challenge that my friends who work in animal welfare in India face is re-homing abandoned pet dogs. As there are no stringent rules for banning unethical backyard breeding or abandoning a pet in India, hundreds of pet dogs are left on the roads to fend for themselves or are surrendered to animal shelters. From large and rare breeds to our desi dogs, we humans do not discriminate when it comes to abandoning dogs. It is, therefore, important that people are cautioned before they decide on bringing a fur buddy home.

If you are thinking of bringing a dog home, I would request you to consider these five points first.

1. Don't shop, adopt

If you have made up your mind to bring a dog home, please contact the animal welfare organisations in your city. There are already hundreds of dogs waiting in the animal shelters for a loving home. With hundreds of pedigree dogs being abandoned every day for no mistake of theirs, you are also likely to get the specific breed that you are looking for. The animal welfare organisation facilitating the adoption will also give you a genuine advice on which breed will suit your lifestyle.

2. It's a commitment

A dog is not a birthday gift or a wedding present. It's not a toy for your kids. It's not a joker to entertain your guests. It's not a status symbol. A dog is a commitment for the next 10-15 years of your life. It's a relationship that you need to work on. If you have not completely thought it through, please take your time and ask yourself whether you are ready for this commitment or not.

A dog is not a birthday gift or a wedding present. It's not a toy for your kids.... A dog is a commitment for the next 10-15 years.

I recently came across a case where a three-year-old Labrador Retriever was abandoned because, of course, a newly-wed man will not give up on his wife just because she hates dogs. Therefore, when you have made up your mind, also ask your family if they are ready for this commitment. It takes a dedicated and accepting family to raise a happy and healthy dog.

3. It requires patience

If you are bringing a puppy home, you are going to have sleepless nights. Puppies need time to adjust to their new surroundings, get used to their pee-and-poo routine, and understand what you expect from them. Don't expect a puppy or even an adult dog to simply walk into your house and know where the bathroom is! You will have to teach them what's expected of them without yelling at them. You can also consult a canine behaviourist if you have no experience with dogs.

4. A dog needs non-vegetarian food

Being a vegetarian myself, I thoroughly respect your reasons—moral or religious— for not eating meat. But I also must caution you that a dog will not survive on a diet of curd, rice, and vegetables. A dog needs a healthy intake of non-vegetarian food. If you cannot cook non-vegetarian food at home, a regular supply of boiled eggs and chicken from a local vendor would work out fine. In metro cities like Delhi and Bangalore, there are many options to get healthy canine food delivered at your doorsteps daily.

5. There will be a considerable monetary investment

Your dog, like a human in your family, will need medical care. Spaying/neutering, vaccinations, de-worming tablets, health supplements, and consultations with a vet—everything will come at a cost. If you are not sure about how your finances are going to be in the near future, please wait until you are sure that you can provide for your dog's basic necessities without a second thought.

If you are a student dependent on pocket money or someone who loves dogs but is not ready to make a long-term commitment, it would be great if you can volunteer for local animal welfare organizations in your free time and wait for the right time to bring a dog home.

PS: I am not an animal-welfare activist. I am a pet parent who tries to facilitate adoptions and care for a few homeless dogs in my very limited capacity.