Dear Lisa: I'm a 12-year-old girl and I want to get a dog, but my dad won't let me. I've written a seven-page essay on why I should own a dog but that didn't work. Any suggestions? --Pining for a Puppy in Portland
Owning a dog is a big responsibility. There are many things to consider before you get a dog. The best way to convince your dad that you are ready for a dog is to get one. A stuffed toy dog that is.
Go to a toy or department store and buy a plush dog. If you find one in a color or of a certain breed that you like even better. Then pretend that dog has the same needs as a real one.
If your new dog is a puppy you have to take it for a potty break about every two hours for the first few weeks. Set an alarm clock for every two hours and then you'll know how much attention the pup needs just to housebreak him. Next set aside two to three times a day to feed the puppy and at least 30 minutes in the morning, midday and evening to walk the puppy.
Next, start saving your allowance to pay for dog food, maybe $30 per month, trips to the veterinarian for shots at least once a year, at least $200, and extra for any medical emergencies. Don't forget training classes so you and your dog can learn how to walk on a leash, come when called, sit and lie down when told, maybe $150 for an 8-week course.
Another thing you have to consider is how will the puppy go to the bathroom while you are at school and once it's an adult who will entertain it during the day? If there is no one home to care for the dog then you may have to save more money, as much as $20, to pay a dog walker to stop at the house and let the dog out during the day.
If you can show your dad that you took care of your "puppy" on that schedule for a whole month and saved up some of your own money for his care, then maybe your dad will reconsider your request after you prove you have what it takes to be a responsible dog owner.
If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.