Pursuit of Dog I: Single man seeks love of life (with tail)

Dagoberto Aceves is dreaming of dogs. He fantasizes about a warm furball dozing under his desk at work, long walks by the bay near his Alameda, California home, and that limitless love and companionship that dogs excel at.

Whether the 25-year-old web developer is ready for the commitment is a different matter. Thanks to his dog-loving family, Dago’s San Diego childhood was crowded with canines–they owned seven in all, including Michael, a beloved mutt, three generations of Yorkshire Terriers, two Chihuahuas, and a Cocker Spaniel–but the only pet he’s cared for as an adult is Carl Marx, his beta fish, and that’s not a big job. Carl lives in Dago’s office at Pagepoint Web Solutions in El Cerrito, keeping morale high among the proletariat web geeks, and his only needs are fresh water and a few food flakes.

So when Dago approached DogTime and said he was willing to use our four-step “Match for life” program* to find his dream dog, he had a few concerns.

He told us he has no yard, works long and sometimes unpredictable hours, and doesn’t own his own home. Despite all his fantasies about strolls by the bay, he’s jumpy about taking the plunge and worries that his lifestyle isn’t dog-friendly enough. “I want to make sure I can give the dog all the attention he needs,” he says.

We assured him that just asking these questions puts him a step ahead of most prospective owners. For many, getting a dog is an impulse buy, often driven by a cute puppy face. Most are under-prepared for the time and attention a dog needs, one reason about four million end up in shelters each year.

So after applauding him for his foresight, we asked him to take our Are You Ready? quiz.

Is Dago dog-ready?

Our two-minute quiz prevents people from making a decision they’ll regret, by helping them figure out whether they’re prepared for the time, money, and commitment it takes to care for a dog.

Forty percent of our quiz takers have learned that, for the moment, they’re better off with a goldfish.

Should Dago stick with Carl and forget the dog? Here’s what he found out.

  • Not having a yard isn’t a deal breaker. In fact, experts say yards can be an excuse for owners to forgo taking their dogs out to exercise and mingle with other dogs and people–the best way to keep dogs friendly and well behaved.
  • He can make time for a dog. The quiz gave Dago a glimpse of what it takes to be a good doggie dad, and it got him thinking about whether all those extra hours at work are really necessary. He realized that some of the time he spends in the office–reading professional articles, hanging out and playing his guitar–could be spent on dog quality time, with no fallout for his career. “It wouldn’t be that difficult to take a break to take care of the dog’s needs,” he says. “After all, they can’t pour the kibble themselves.”
  • He’s got more going for him than he thought. As well as being willing to massage his schedule to accommodate a dog, he has permission from his landlord to get one, a commitment to exercise and training, and the option to take his dog with him to work.

After finishing the quiz, he had a lot more confidence that he’s making a smart decision. “It make me ask myself questions I hadn’t deeply considered,” he says. “It cleared up any fuzziness about whether I’m able to have a dog yet.”

His results and his instincts tell him the same thing: “I’m totally ready,” he says.