Diaries of a First Timer: An interview with our co-founder Katie on getting her first dog

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I’ve heard bits and pieces from Katie about her childhood with animals, growing up around Kansas City creeks and when she knew she was ready to get her dog - and the real head of the company - George.

I’ve never heard it all at once though, so consider this offering part “get to know the founder” and part “how the hell do I know if I’m ready to get a dog”.  Some of Katie’s responses below are condensed for the sake of brevity, but her (semi)-eccentric spirit is still there. 

Did you have dogs or other pets growing up?

Yeah! My family had a chocolate lab, Liz, and two cats. I grew up in a house surrounded by nature, with a family that would pull over on any road, any day of the year, if even the toddler in the backseat claimed to see a stray cat or dog needing rescue. It wasn't until college that I learned that most people don't include "there was a stray cat" in their list of go-to excuses for being late or flat-out ghosting an event (Christmas parties, soccer try-outs, even flights). 

But I also had my own pets as a kid. I was a THE critter kid of Valley Park Elementary. My childhood friend group included anyone whose parents allowed them to come home from playdates covered in mud and creek water, with a new pet insect, tadpole, or lizard. I adopted chameleons, geckos, hermit crabs, fish, turtles - you name it. The one animal my parents refused to allow in the house was a hamster, so the day I got my drivers license I drove straight to Petsmart and bought one myself. 

When did you first start thinking about getting your dog? What pushed you to finally go for it?

One of my friends got a dog junior year of college, which signaled that it was something I was allowed to do. I started talking to people about the idea of getting a dog (taking a pulse for how acceptable it would be) my senior year of college. My then serious-ish college boyfriend really wanted to wait until we could get a dog together, which I hated. This was for me, not for us. Once I felt settled in the Bay Area, I pretty quickly started contacting rescue groups. 

The idea of committing to something for 10-20 years worried me at times, but growing up we would visit my mom's younger siblings who all had pets in their twenties, so I just assumed it was do-able. 

I broke up with the boyfriend and got serious about the dog. One of my best friends at work was a little older, and had a poodle who would follow her around - she strongly encouraged both the breakup and the adoption.

How'd you go about thinking about the breed of your dog? 

Breed was more important to me than it was to my parents when we were adopting Liz. I needed a dog that could do well in apartments (both applying-for, and surviving-in) and could easily fly on planes.

When I thought about why I wanted a dog, I was looking for a companion to get me outside, make sure I go running semi-regularly, but who could be fine with nights in on the couch, being homebodies or who could occasionally accompany me to a bar/brunch. Honestly, the introvert in me knew that a dog was the most bullet-proof excuse for leaving early or not attending an event I didn't want to attend.

A lounge dog that can run, fit on planes, and looks acceptable to prospective landlords led me to the ever-so-posh, epitome-of-athleticism, Italian Greyhound. Either iggy or Great Dane, actually, so I tracked both rescue groups. A Great Dane would've been a little harder on the plane, but I was ready to mold a lot of my life choices around this dog - if I never flew again, so be it. I like driving anyway.


What about the decision to go with a rescue versus a breeder?

Liz was an abused rescue and the whole family went through the dog adoption process together. With my adoption process, I had breed preferences but was worried about how it looked to get a breeder dog. It was just incongruent with who I was trying to be at the time. 

Rescue vs breeder is a tough decision to make. There are so many great dogs who need homes in rescue groups. There are breed-specific rescue groups if you're picky about breed. There are rescue groups with great veterinarians who can help de-risk the health concerns. You can have a great bond with a slightly older dog, even if you weren't there for the puppy years. 

If you're going with breeder, I would do a lot of research. I would just want to support breeders who are good to their dogs. There are some who aren't. 

Tell readers how you went about picking the name George…

I had some concepts in mind ("Crouton" was a front runner), but didn't settle on a name until I met him - I didn't know how old he was and wanted to keep his original name if that brought him comfort. Meeting him, he was SUCH a Greg. Greg is my dad's name, though, and Dad-Greg wasn't pleased to hear I got a dog and named it after him. Nor does Greg roll off the tongue in a park. Turned out he was also such a George. (His foster name was Pork Chop, which he clearly detested.)

What was the most enjoyable/fun part of being a new dog owner?

Molding my day-to-day routines and rituals around this THING. 

What was the most overwhelming part of being a new dog owner?

Molding my day-to-day routines and rituals around this THING.

What's the biggest (or most memorable) parenting mistake you've made when it comes to your dog?

A few things come to mind. Being strict with training early-on was hard, so I should've done better there. He still hates it when I try to brush his teeth, and I don't know if we actually need the vet's $1200 dental cleaning or not. Worst was probably our move from SF to Boston, which was super tough for George. I had taken a few months off in SF and he was used to spending all day with me. As soon as we landed in Boston, I was super busy and he didn't have a walker at first. It definitely affected him physically and emotionally and he wasn't himself for 3+ months during the abrupt transition.