1. We have had Caesar, our German Shepherd, for the past one year. It might sound insensitive to calculate what it costs to feed him… but he practically eats from our table. So cost: negligible.
2. Thanks to Caesar, the front door is always open when I return home in the evening; he barks at uninvited guests, as is the habit of most German Shepherds. Moreover, he usually sits near the door, so there's this sense of security.
3. Caesar guards the house not only from burglars but also from other furry creatures. Since we have had him, we haven't heard from the monkeys that used to pillage the kitchen for a late-evening snack.
4. Being paranoid, I take a quick walk around the house at night to check if everything is OK. Caesar is fast asleep… not good, but every dog has his night.
5. Caesar has been sick just once, and I don't like to term the vet's charges "maintenance"-what's Rs 700 in return for a friend with a cold, wet nose?
Security Meter: 4
Emotional Meter: 8
...and the one that disregards this
1. Since Caesar falls asleep sometimes, we installed a security surveillance video phone at the front door and intrusion-detection alarms on the windows. I now have odd-looking boxes all over the house, not to mention a Rs 12,000 hole in my pocket.
2. Returning home from work, I now have to speak to mom on the video phone at the gate before getting inside. Not good if she's had a bad day. Sometimes she even sends me on the occasional errand. I don't like it.
3. Opened a window in my room, and a false alarm was activated. A ruckus ensued; peace was restored only after several calls to the technicians.
4. Sleeping at night feels better now. I know the systems are working all the time-let Caesar sleep! But old habits die hard, and I sometimes end up checking the systems in the middle of the night.
5. The monthly maintenance charges for cleaning the video camera and checking the alarm system wires amount to Rs 600, and the electricity bill has gone up by about a hundred.
Security Meter: 9
Emotional Meter: 0
And The Winner Is... For use at home, the security systems were just too problematic. Waiting at the door for your mom to answer the phone is plain annoying. If you go in for a cheaper, minimal security option, like just a video phone at the entrance, or intrusion-detection alarms on the windows, you aren't fully protected. And don't forget the Rs 700…
Having Caesar around is complete joy. This might not sound too rational, but the experience of raising a dog compensates for security-related worries. No security system will bring you your morning newspaper, all sloppy and wet. And unless you live in a mansion, a dog can guard your house from all things human, animal and alien.