How We Decided to Get Our First Dog

by LifeOfLo
Thinking About Getting a Pet?

Do you have a pet already? Thinking about getting one? Here’s the thought process I went through and then went through again with my boyfriend!

The Day We Got Zlato

  1. Why do you want a pet? Is it because you’re lonely, your friends just got a new puppy or kitten and it’s SO cute, or because you wanted to prove to someone (or yourself) you could be responsible? Maybe it’s all of the above? Think long and hard about the reasoning as to why you want a dog. If it’s just because you’ve been seeing cute pictures of baby animals or a friend of yours just got a new furry friend then maybe right now isn’t the best time to add a family member of the furry variety.
  2. Do you have time?
  3. Do you have the space?
  4. Can you afford it?
  5. Are you responsible enough to take care of another living creature?
Narrowing Down to a Dog

There are many different types of pets out there; fish, hamsters, rats, gerbils, birds, dogs, cats, snakes, lizards…the list goes on and on. It’s important to know which type of animal you’re ready to commit to and the type of care/maintenance they require. The amount of care can also change with each species. For example, Beta fish have a different level of care than salt water fish or even fresh water fish.

My family over the years has had three dogs (Angel our first dog passed away in 1997 approx. and Sparky passed away in November 2016), a cat, birds (including a parrot), and fish (I had a Betta fish, in my freshman year of college I had Glofish and my dad has had fresh and salt water fish). We have had our fair share of pets over the years so I had lots of experience with the variety of care required for different animals.



  I had been wanting my own dog because I wanted a companion that I could take out into the world that I could play with. I figured a dog would help me stay active (dogs require walks and other types of physical activity) and if I went away to school a dog would make me feel less alone and more safe.

Cats are a great alternative to dogs in the sense that they require a similar amount of care and maintenance. A cat was not what I chose because generally cat’s can be more aloof and they are not taken in public as much as dogs are. I love my family cat, Kiki, but she does not provide me with enough attention like my dogs do. Cat’s do not require the same amount of physical activity as dogs do and could be a great alternative when looking for a pet!

Me & Sparky

Picking a Breed

If you decided you want a dog like we did the next step is deciding what breed suits you best! Some of our friends and family have adopted dogs from shelters and the breed didn’t quite matter. If you’re fortunate enough to take in a dog that needs a home without considering certain aspects of a dog’s personality, please adopt don’t shop. I have specific requirements of what I want from my lifelong companion so adopting was not in the cards for me. We did look into adopting for a year and a half before we decided to pick a specific breed.

Some dogs that Zach and I originally thought about getting were:

  1. Cocker Spaniel (my top pick from the very beginning)
  2. Australian Shepherd…blue merle specifically (this was inspired by one of my best friends and her dog, Rudy)
  3. Sheltie
  4. Toller
  5. Beagle
  6. Dachshund (Zach wanted one because his family has had Dachshunds his whole life)

Living in the Washington D.C. area most apartments have weight and breed restrictions. Living in an apartment also means there is very limited yard space. This meant that we couldn’t get a large dog in our one bedroom apartment. Most of the above listed dogs were in the small to medium range.

First Three Off the List

I didn’t want a Dachshund (as cute and popular as they are). But I wanted a different breed that I could be a little more active with. I was also very concerned about being able to pick up my dog if they were small because Dachshunds have such long backs and I wasn’t used to that. Zach quickly agreed that a Dachshund wouldn’t suit us as a couple.

Long Haired Dachshund

The other breed Zach had wanted since he was a child was a Beagle. Classic. After researching characteristics of the breed I didn’t think it would be good for us to have a dog that howled in an apartment. Beagles also could be difficult to house train and as a new dog for the both of us I didn’t want a big challenge.

Australian Shepherds were next off of our list. We found that many people our age getting dogs were after the Australian Shepherd. After spending time with my friend and her sweet boy we decided the breed wasn’t for us. Although they are beautiful and very intelligent, Zach and I both want a dog that is okay being a snuggle bug on the couch occasionally. Australian Shepherds are generally not as affectionate and would prefer to keep an eye on their owner (showing love this way) rather than snuggling up.

Blue Merle Puppy

Picking the One for Us

Toller’s are absolutely STUNNING. If we ever had a big enough yard this would definitely be a dog I would be interested in having. This wasn’t our pick for a first dog because they are much bigger than I was originally wanting, they are hard to find (mostly only in Canada and exclusively by breeders), and for a first dog it would be very high maintenance due to their high intelligence and need for activity.

Sheltie’s seemed to be the best of both worlds, they were smaller than a collie but had similar features. But holy cow all of that HAIR. They are very vocal (a negative when living in an apartment) and they don’t do well alone.

This left us with one choice….the Cocker Spaniel! This was my top choice. This was the first dog my family ever had and the top three words to describe a Cocker Spaniel are: gentle, smart, and happy. Exactly what we were looking for!

How Cockapoo’s Became Our Breed

After deciding we wanted Cocker spaniel’s we searched where to get one. When we got our first pup, Zlato, we were under the impression that he was a pure bred Cocker Spaniel. As he grew older we couldn’t deny that he had much more fur on his face than a pure bred cocker spaniel, his nose was much smaller, and he was very tiny. I always said I wanted him to stay a puppy forever and it looks as if I got my wish! After knowing more about Cockapoo’s (Cocker Spaniel & Poodle mix) we guess that one of his parents was a smaller Cocker Spaniel and the other was a toy poodle. We fell in love with the breed even more than the original idea of the Cocker Spaniel and we will continue to have Cockapoo’s for the rest of our lives!

What kinds of pets do you have or want to have? How did you decide to get a pet? Leave us a comment below!


Lo & Zlato

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