…nor do you get one as a gift. Dogs aren’t slaves or property.
You earn dogs, the way you earn children: by cleaning up their poo; by never giving up on them; by firm corrections; by loving forgiveness when you know damn well they knew better; by playing with them anyway when you’re just too busy; by comforting them through illness; by checking out the monsters they hear in the dark; by teaching them not to play in the street.
You earn dogs, the way you earn spouses: by trying to parse their language well enough to listen to what is surely interspecies gibberish; by knowing the difference between impatient whining and whimpers of pain; by respecting an honest wag of the tail.
You earn dogs, the way you earn a lover: by taking the pain when finally, inevitably, they spangle the darkness of the sky with the shards of your broken heart.
At least with dogs, you know they never meant to.