For a lot of you in Colorado, a dog is a necessity: in order to live a full and happy life, you've got a four-legged pal by your side.

Let me preface this article by saying: I totally agree with you...just in the right circumstances.

I've grown up with dogs my entire life. They're wonderful, selfless companions-- they pretty much just want to be there for you and sleep all day. My greatest memories are with my favorite doggos-- Keeley, Pebbles, Babbit, Lacey, Sadie, Scarlett-- these are just a few of the members of our family that have graced my childhood and early adulthood.

Scruggs, Sadie, and Scarlett

Suffice it to say, I'm a dog lover, and as soon as I moved out on my own, I wanted a dog. I made an effort in college, but I had roommates and the dog needed training that I didn't have time to give. I think about my failed efforts with Aries (he was a gorgeous German Shepherd) every day, and it informs the way I think about wanting a dog now, since I live alone in a dog-friendly community.

To start off, a coworker of mine had me watch his shepherd-lab mix over a weekend, and for anyone who is thinking about getting a dog in an apartment, I certainly learned a few things from the experience. I'm not rushing to the humane society anytime soon, but I feel like I know what to expect, and I hope you do, too. Here are a few tips:

1. Dogs need attention
Hopefully, this is an obvious one. Since Cora (the dog) was older and more subdued than Aries had been, I assumed she'd sleep all day and all night. For the most part, she did-- but yeah, there were times when she wanted to play and go outside and essentially not be in an apartment, and a lot of times I wasn't in the mood. I had to do it anyway. I reminded myself that while I get to leave whenever I want, Cora doesn't, and so when she wants to go outside, I should take her.

2. Dogs can sense emotion
A lot of people roll their eyes at the idea that dogs can sense emotion...I don't. I've always known that dogs had this heightened sense, but it was further proven the weekend I had Cora in my apartment. I was going through a hard time transitioning from one job to the next, and the stress of it was taking a toll on my emotions. One night, I broke down crying in front of the TV. Immediately, Cora came over from her comfy place on my bed to sit beside me and, essentially, just let me know that she was there. It was incredible. I fully believe that dogs can sense anger, as well-- so if you find your dog avoiding you after a particularly tense phone conversation with an ex, I have a feeling this is why. Dog experts, back me up!

3. Dogs cost money
You might look at a dog and think, 'Oh, easy companion, will sit in my apartment and be there for me and be cute' and that's it. Believe me, it's not. Think of a dog like a less high-maintenance child. They need to be looked after and most of all, they'll need medical care. Cora took five pills a day, which I had to administer to her via handy turkey-flavored pill pockets. Luckily, I didn't have to pay for that medication, but remember that when you get a dog, you might have to.

Credit: Madison Scruggs/TSQ
Credit: Madison Scruggs/TSQ

4. Dogs are an amazing way to get to know your neighbors
Like I said, I live in a dog-friendly community, but I didn't realize how many of my neighbors I would get to know going out for that 8:00 a.m. 'Cora-needs-to-pee' walk. I met a girl with a shepherd who worked at Colorado State, I met a guy with a lab who liked to wear a flower on his collar (the lab, not the guy), and I met a super-hot dude with a three-legged pit bull. Can I borrow someone's dog so that I can 'run into' him again?

5. Dogs can put a damper on your plans
A well-trained, well-acclimated dog is obviously easy to gauge-- if you need to leave for three hours, you know whether or not your dog will be fine or whether he/she will poop on the floor while you're gone. I was terrified to leave with Cora in my place. It wasn't that I thought she'd have accidents, it's that I was worried my apartment wouldn't be enough space for her to last hours with no outdoor time-- I thought she'd get anxious and rip things up, or worse, bark and bother my neighbors. Luckily, I was only gone for a little bit and when I came home, she was totally fine (just sleeping on my couch) but I cancelled plans the following day because I was so nervous to leave her alone for a second time. All I'll say here is take time to acclimate your dog to your surroundings: make sure the animal is comfortable before you leave he or she alone for long periods of time...for your peace of mind.

Overall, dogs are an amazing addition to a family and I'm excited for the day when I feel prepared to welcome a little furry monster into my home. I think, for me, I still have a lot to think about, but I'm excited to embark on that journey. Regardless, before you do anything, make sure you're thinking about the things I mentioned, and if I missed anything, let me know in the comments.

Good luck on your search for a furry friend...and don't forget: adopt, don't shop!

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