City living with four legged fur babies

I have gotten so many questions about living in the city with my two dogs, so I've decided to immortalize my advice on the internet for you (lullzz). This is NOT sponsored in any way, I'm just listing out products that have worked for us and that could potentially help you too!

Before I get into this, I wanted to introduce the queens, in case you don't know them (shame on thou).

Marley is the black pug. She's 4 and a total betch who loves fetch.  We got her from a family that lived on a farm in Northern Ontario when she was 2-3 months old. 

Callie is the greyhound boxer mix. She's 2 and we rescued her from Nature in Montreal. We were planning on getting a second dog and Ash had always wanted a big dog, so when we saw her, we just couldn't resist those eyes. 

I just want to say one thing: it's f*cking hard. They're babies forever and will always need you. The good part is that they're there for you and are always in a good mood; they are a part of your world, but you're their whole world (brb, crying).

Ok, let's do this thang. Here are some things to consider: 

Energy level

Something to fully understand and look into when you're considering getting a dog. It kills me when people have a specific breed or type of dog they like/want and have 0 clue about energy level. It's the main thing that will impact your lifestyle/how often you'll have to exercise your dog, so be in the know. 

Training

Understanding how your own body language impacts your communication with your dog is so vital. You could be doing something "wrong" without even knowing it.

We did private training for her early stage/potty training. Now that she's got her basic commands down, we're in the "high school" phase at When Hounds Fly. Claire has been a great teacher and I really love the small sessions (4 dogs max). Not trying to sell you on any particular school, but this institution is clicker based and it's just worked for Callie.

For a 7 week program, it's around $300. 

Vet

Having a vet close was important to me. We go to Queen West Animal Hospital because the doctors are amazing and they've always given me honest advice. An example: Marley had a little rash on her tummy and instead of giving me a prescription dog lotion, the vet told me to just go buy baby diaper rash cream from Shoppers (a considerably cheaper option).

For a basic appointment, it's around $200 (this is without vaccines or medication). There's a yearly checkup, vaccines and then depending on the season, there are specific treatments and medications required. For example, every summer, we go out of the city, so that means tick and flea medication. 

Green space

My pug is a DIVA and needs grass to do her business, so when we were looking to buy a condo, a green space/park nearby was imperative.

Weather

Unless you live in a year-round climate *jealous*, you have to deal with the cold. Is your dog breed (and you) ok with snow/rain/cold? Despite the bad weather, you'll still have to walk your dog as much as any other day. 

If you're as ~lucky~ as I am, your dog will hate anything but sunshine... ugh. There are two things I couldn't leave the house without:

  1. Invisible boot: this is a non-toxic cream that protects pads from cold, salt, ice and snow. There's so much salt here and dog boots just don't stay on, so this has been the solution for us
  2. Coats: I have no particular brand in mind, but I always make sure it's water-resistant so that the snow doesn't penetrate

Time + patience + LOTS OF LOVE

I can't say this enough: DOGS ARE NOT COMMODITIES. Assume this is a 15-20 year commitment and really ask yourself if you can put another life before yours. Marley and Callie come first in my life... because they need to. I can't start my day without making sure they're both walked and fed.

Bluntly put, my schedule revolves around them and that's just the way it has to be. If I go to the gym or meet up with friends, I have to make sure they're exercised, have done their business and are fed. 

I'm self-employed, so I have the time to properly take care of my gals. It's not to say you can't commit yourself to a dog if you do have a job in an office/out of home, but you'll just have to make the dog a priority when you're at home. 

Before working on Counter Culture full-time, I worked in marketing agencies that were dog friendly and when Marley was a puppy, I'd bring her in every day. It's amazing, but that meant, making sure I walked her between meetings/at lunch. 

Travel

Truth be told, unless we're taking a plane (and in that case, my mother-in-law dog sits), the dogs are coming with, so our SUV is equipped with everything to properly travel with dogs: seat covers, beds for the car, seat belts. 

Callie was very anxious in the car, so we bought her a Thunder Shirt which, coupled with putting her own bed in the back seat and many, many treats has helped her come to like the car. 

Cost 

This section is quite subjective, but I'll let you in on what I spend on a monthly basis in terms of fixed costs for both dogs: 

  1. Food: I feed them a dehydrated raw diet called Canisource Grand Cru. Callie has the most sensitive stomach, so I feed them a fish formula because there's a tad less fat in that option. I buy it at Global Pet Foods in Liberty FYI - $200 
  2. Food topper: Callie is quite picky, so I crumble Stella & Chewy freeze-dried beef patties on top of her food - $200
  3. Treats: they love going to HomeSense, so I'll let them pick what they want from the dog section - $50 
  4. Pet insurance: we did research before signing up for Trupanion, but depending on your plan, price can vary. We got them insurance when they were healthy puppies, so we pay $50/dog. Deductible is $500 and coverage is 90% - $100

As I write this, I realize it's a lot, but I want my dogs to feel like they're the prettiest, most special creatures ever.

Marley was quite easy to raise, I'd grown up with huskies that require SO MUCH energy, so having a pug was a breeze.

When we got Callie, I honestly had days where I thought I wouldn't be able to do it. Looking back, it was so worth it and nothing makes me happier to see them content and know that they feel joy and love.

They've made me a better person in more ways than one.