Is this the time for a puppy in your family?
The first question you need to ask yourself before you begin this journey is, do you need a puppy (or dog) at all. A dog is a lot of fun but a lot more work than many people realize. Having a family dog means caring for it in every way, from the physical to meeting the dog's need for mental stimulation as well. Hopefully this dog will be with you for the next 10 to 15 years, so this is a big decision.
Doesn't every family need a dog?
It seems that very often a family gets a dog "for kids". Kids and dogs can be a great thing! However, it is the rare child who keeps up with that pledge to "take care of it all by myself." Even the most dedicated and sincere of children soon find friends, sports and their own social life interfering with the daily needs of the family pet. Primary care for a dog must be something the adults in the household want and are willing to take responsibility for.
Do you have the time now?
Puppies are like babies. They have accidents, they don't sleep through the night, and they can destroy things. They are not doing this on purpose; they are learning the rules of life in your family. It isn't fair to become angry with the puppy for this. Do you have the patience to work through this time of life? What other commitments do you have in life now? A demanding, full time job? Small children in the home? What do you do when the puppy needs to go out, now, and your toddler is sitting and playing? Do you take the time to put the child somewhere safe and secure or call a family member to attend the puppy? That's all the time it takes for an "accident" to occur with the puppy. Not its fault, just a baby with a small bladder and little control. A puppy takes a lot of time out of your schedule. An adult dog can make less demand of your time, but still needs attention.
Can you afford to be a responsible pet owner?
Aside from your initial purchase price there are many other expenses to pet ownership. When you first get your puppy there is the initial series of vaccinations, purchase of the equipment (bowls, collar, lead, crate and toys) and a good puppy kindergarten class. After these start up costs, maintaining a dog can add up to a significant amount annually with food and vet bills. With a Portuguese Water Dog you also have grooming costs, or the expense of purchasing equipment and learning to groom the dog yourself.
What will your future hold?
What will your life bring in the upcoming years? Are you childless now, but planning a family soon? Will you have time for the dog when your baby arrives? Will your children soon be grown, off to school or otherwise out of the home? Will the adults then want to be able to travel, and not be tied down to a pet? The American Kennel Club coined the phrase, "A Dog is for Life; not just for Christmas" on a bumper sticker many years ago. This was created to describe why dogs should not be purchased on a spur of the moment gift whim, but given long term consideration. A dog is for life. It is a sad fact that many people don't seem to realize this. This is why so many dogs end up in shelters across this country.