News Article: Picking the Right Puppy

From the

Finding puppy wuv
How to find the right dog for you

By Kaitlyn Syring (Contact)
Thursday, April 10th, 2008

“You should choose your dog the way you choose your friends—very carefully.”

James McKee, 2005 graduate, offers this wisdom on selecting the perfect canine companion. His chocolate Labrador Retriever, Callie, was the result of careful planning and consideration. He says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I needed to know that was the kind of dog that would fit into my house and my lifestyle,” McKee says. “And I needed to know that I would have the time to take care of her.”

McKee demonstrates a preparedness that a lot of college students don’t. It takes a lot of time to figure out if you should get a dog and which dog would be right for you. You have to think about several things—money, time, space, breed—before committing to a dog. Such planning will ensure you pick your ideal BFF—best furry friend.

Dog vs. life

One of the most difficult things about owning a dog when you’re in college is finding the time to care for the animal properly.

Callie Rost, a veterinarian at the Animal Care Emergency Room in Salina, says it’s very important that, before you buy a dog, you evaluate the amount of time it takes to have a healthy dog and you compare that time with your regular life. If you don’t think the two mesh, Rost says, then it’s time to reconsider having a dog.

McKee remembers how hard it was to take care of his Lab, Callie, when she was a puppy, and he was still in school. He says he tried to develop a routine that suited both of them. He got up early, around 7 a.m., each day to take her out and let her run around outside, he says. Next came chow time.

“I put her food bowl in the bathroom along with some toys, so she could eat while I showered,” he says. “She wanted to be around me all the time, and she wouldn’t eat if I was out of the room.”

McKee says that after getting dressed, he played with Callie for about 15 minutes more while trying to eat his breakfast. He says he kept her in the kitchen with a baby gate so that she couldn’t chew on things while he was away. He left for class each day around 8:30 a.m. and returned home when he had an opening in the day, he says.

“I came back to my house during a break between classes, around lunchtime, to let her out again and clean up whatever poopy mess she’d made during the morning,” he says. “I’d usually have to give her a quick bath because she had poop on herself, too, and then love on her a little and feed her and go back to campus.”

McKee says that his school day ended around 4 p.m. and was followed by cleaning the kitchen—and Callie—again.

“It was so tough,” he says. “I had this adorable thing that was so fun and so frustrating at the same time. I remember being kind of excited for her to grow up.”

Now that McKee is out of school and Callie is an adult, he says that things are easier. He can leave Callie alone much longer and his schedule is more relaxed, so he has more time to hang out with her and take her for walks.

“And I don’t have to clean up poop anymore,” he says.

Though McKee tackled the dog-owning process on his own, many college students solve the time constraints by having a roommate or significant other take care of the dog while they’re gone.

Kait Wilson, Topeka senior, gives a lot of credit to her roommate when it comes to balancing school, work and having Lupa, a Maltese-Poodle mix. She says she is lucky to have a roommate who is willing to help her walk, feed and play with Lupa. Wilson says she is always sad to leave Lupa each day, but the welcome she receives when she returns is unbeatable.

Students like Jill Kanterman, Chesterfield, Mo., senior, find it more difficult. She works in Kansas City all day three times a week and goes to classes most of the day twice a week. Her Golden Retriever, Louie, stays home. She, too, has some assistance from a roommate, but she says she makes it a point to find time to personally spend playing with or walking Louie.

“I would probably go insane without my Louie time,” she says.

Dogs require dough

Perhaps more than anything else, it takes money to own a dog.

Rost says that the first six months of owning a puppy are tremendously expensive. You have to pay for the dog, then for vaccinations and spaying or neutering on top of the usual food, toys, collars, leashes, flea and tick preventative and heart worm medication that all ages of dogs need each month. Rost estimates that most puppies will cost about $200 a month for the first six months if properly taken care of. Buying a dog from a shelter can be less expensive, Rost says, because these dogs will be spayed or neutered already and will have up-to-date vaccinations.

After spaying, neutering and shots are completed, the average smaller dog—fewer than 35 pounds—costs around $50 to $75 a month, says Kym Base, a dog breeder, trainer and groomer at Barks ’N’ Bows in Salina. A large dog—more than 35 pounds—will cost closer to $100 or $150 each month with a little room for emergencies or illnesses, Base says.


Bottom line: You have to do lots of thinking, talking and reading before you get a dog. You have to find out which dog would be well-suited to your house, your personality, your schedule and your activity level. Be prepared to spend some cash and shower attention on your new companion. Then, look around at a few shelters or rescue groups. A good friend might be waiting for you there. All these things will aid you in discovering possibly the best and softest buddy you will ever have.