If you’ve ever scrolled through TikTok looking at videos of pet owners and their multiple fur babies, it wouldn’t take long to get the impression that the experience is fun, fulfilling, and beneficial for all concerned.
It can be. But before taking the leap and adding pets to your family, it’s important to understand all it entails.
There’s good information out there about the joys and pitfalls of multiple pets, but I wanted to talk to someone who lives the experience daily. So I posed a series of questions to Sara Sperry, who lives with her husband, Eli, in South Park in Dayton.
Their crew includes Coco, a 12-year-old Lab-pit mix; Tron, a 9-year-old French Bulldog; Doe, a 7-year-old Lab-Boxer mix; Darla and Lugi, 3-year-old French Bulldogs; Eleanor, a 2-year-old French Bulldog; Keelo, a 1‑ year-old Argentino Dogo; and a pair of 4-year-old cats, Alleister and Grayson.
I first asked, “How did you become a multiple pet owner? Did it happen gradually? Quickly?
Sara says it happened gradually. “I had two Boxers and Eli had a cat when we married. When we unexpectedly lost my male Boxer, we immediately adopted another male Boxer puppy and a female Doberman puppy. Those two seemed to be the catalyst!”
Sara tells me it probably took eight years to grow the pack to its current leave, “so it never felt like a lot, until it was.”
When asked how they bring a new pet into the family, Sara said this was the hardest part for them.
“When you bring a new animal in, you want to just throw them into the pack and have everyone get along and play and just be nice to each other, and that doesn’t happen,” she said. “We usually have one to three weeks of keeping the new dog separate, but still with the pack.
“Usually this looks like being in a cage with us in the living room with some of the other dogs around. This gives everyone time to smell each other and learn that everyone belongs here. Usually the old lady Labs and Darla and Eleanor are the first dogs to get to hang out with anyone new. They are the most laid back.”
I asked Sara what challenges a multiple pet owner faces daily.
“Owning multiple pets is not for the weak at heart. I think a lot of us go into owning a dog and expect to buy food, maybe one vet visit a year, some toys, and that doesn’t sound too bad, right? But in reality, it is more like food, food, food, and treats and toys and that one vet visit a year can cost as much as a car payment for the one dog to have flea meds, heartworm prevention and vaccines.”
“Because even if you can handle all the normal upkeep, then the unexpected can happen and someone needs a back surgery to keep from being paralyzed (Tron).”
“And don’t forget training! Especially with larger dogs, starting that training as soon as you get them is important, because they will be strong before you know it. If you are not sure what that training looks like, then paying for it is probably the best bet for you and your pet.”
Finally I asked, “What joys or humor do your pets give to you that make this endeavor worth it?”
“They are a good reminder that there are things more important than work and the daily stresses that can seem overwhelming. The animals provide unconditional love, even when you are not at your best, and watching them play together can really make us laugh. Especially when you are talking about watching our 70-pound Dogo play with the 17-pound Frenchie!”
Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in Greene County with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.