When Kanika Shah, 29, told her parents that she thought she was ready to marry the love of her life, her parents were okay with the decision. But they did have one condition — adopt a dog first.
"They felt I had an independent lifestyle and that I should first see if I could be responsible enough to take care of someone else. They also wanted me to know that though I would be the primary caretaker of the latest addition; they’d be around to pitch in." Shah adopted a stray four years ago, and admits that her beloved pooch is now the focus of her life. She says, "He consoles me when I am low and I stay up if he is unwell."
She isn’t the only one. With most people being married to their careers through their 20s, the decision to have a child is a scary proposition for several young couples. So rather than diving head-first into a scenario they may not be comfortable with, several twosomes choose to experiment by getting a pet.
Journalist Jugal Karnik and media professional Anushree Khanna, both 29, were married for three years. Due to their hectic work schedules, they were unsure if they wanted to go the family way. Jugal says, "We decided to get a Labrador. Within months, the little guy had us wrapped around his paws and we willingly gave up partying. I even asked for time out from work to be with him."
But there is a rider. Abodh Aras, founder of Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) says, "If you are going to do this, you need to be super-committed. And that cannot change after the baby arrives. A dog does have the ability to generate responsibility, but remember that it will double after the baby. And one cannot then abandon the canine because you aren’t ready or feel you have too much on your hands. That will just result in a spurt of strays on the streets."
Keep in mind
A dog can make you feel more responsible. You now have to take care of someone who completely depends on you for survival.
Ensure that you know what kind of breed you are getting. Dogs have personalities too. So while a Labrador might be an amiable house companion, a Beagle needs more attention.
Once a baby does arrive, you cannot rid yourself of the dog’s responsibility. Do it only if you intend to keep your commitment for life.
Try and adopt a stray. It gets a loving home and you get a loving pet.