Sunday, 19 June 2016

Things I didn't expect about getting a puppy

My husband has wanted a dog of his own pretty much forever, but whenever he mentioned it to me, I just didn't get it. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs, but I didn't understand the concept of bringing an animal to live in our house. It struck me that it would make our house messy and smelly and we would lose the freedom to live day to day with no one else to worry about.

He eventually convinced me and I thought I'd give it a go. I have to admit, it's a scary prospect, someone else to look after for fifteen years, not just that, but being responsible for their wellbeing and training to make sure they're a good citizen of the dog world.

And so Barney arrived. It's been nearly two weeks, it helps that he's utterly adorable (he's currently asleep on my left arm), and I seem to have settled into puppy ownership better than I expected. That said, it's early days. There have been a number of things that I wasn't expecting though...

The noise
Oh, the noise. I expected him to be upset on his first night. What I wasn't expecting was the hours and hours of howling, crying, whimpering, you name it... I don't actually know when he found the time to breathe. After two nights though, we didn't hear a peep from him from 10pm to 6am. I have to admit I did worry he'd died in the night...
How much noise do you think something this size can make??
The constant attention
I don't think I quite appreciated how much attention my little bundle of fur would need. I need to keep an eye out for toilet trips, either to get him outside in time, or to praise him if we're already outside, but it's also making sure he's not eating anything too unsuitable, whether it be the sofa or roses. It's pretty much a full time job.
Mmmm, moss
The laughs
He makes me laugh so much, it's great for my pelvic floor. Whether its chasing Andrew around the garden, running off with his soft toy at such a pace with no concept as to where he's going or why, or falling over because he lost balance whilst chewing his tail, it's great for lifting family spirits when you're feeling sleep deprived.
I'm not quite sure why Andrew's rugby shirt needed a trip through the dog flap, but it did
The sleeping
He sleeps a lot, just not when we want him to! Perhaps eighteen hours a day? I guess all these new experiences, smells and growing he has to do takes it out of a young puppy. That said, when he's awake he can be like a crazed beast. We end up running him around the garden just to quieten him down!
Asleep with his face in my slipper, crazy animal
The companionship
When anyone told me why I should get a dog, they all mentioned loyalty. Don't get me wrong, I value loyalty as much as anyone else. I love that my husband doesn't chase other women or moan about me behind my back (much), but I couldn't see how that would translate into a positive quality in a four legged friend. Now I think I get it. There's nothing he loves more than being next to me. He sleeps on my feet and if I get up (assuming he's not too sleep fuddled), he'll leap up to accompany me wherever I'm going. Admittedly it'd be nice if he didn't keep tripping me up, but it's nice to know that he's settled and quite likes his new family.
My little shadow
Communication issues
I hadn't realised how difficult it would be to live with someone who speaks a completely different language. It's like having a lodger from a different world who wants to eat the curtains and your clothing and you can't explain to him why he shouldn't. We're booked in for puppy classes in a month's time, I can't wait for us to find a common language.

The biting
When we chose Barney at six weeks old, he was part cockapoo, part piranha. It's amazing how sharp those little puppy teeth are. The breeders worked on his training and whilst he mainly just mouthed, he's now starting to catch us more often as he's teething again. He's now part velociraptor! We're still working on bite inhibition, I didn't even know that was a thing two weeks ago. Whilst he's learning not to bite hands, that hasn't yet translated to clothing or soft furnishings. If only the curtains could yelp.
Biting the hand that feeds
The poo
Picking up poo isn't as bad as I thought. What adds an extra dimension is that it seems I need skills for speed poo collection. If I'm not quick enough at grabbing it in the bag and whisking it away, I end up with a puppy attached to the bag. Whoever put a smell on these bags which attracts puppies is a mentalist.

Puppy blues
This was the bit I really wasn't expecting. I was left alone with Barney for about nine hours on Saturday and it was just about the toughest experience of my life. He was trouble from the start, wanting to jump up, pull at my clothes, eat the curtains, claw the sofa, you name it... Nothing would distract him and when I tried to, he'd just snap at me. I ended up putting him in his crate to calm down, but he'd be just the same when I took him out. It didn't help that I was exhausted after only six hours sleep. I didn't give up, I kept taking him out to play with him, but he was just impossible. I was fed up being stuck in the house on my own with an ungrateful hound and he probably missed Andrew. As a result, we were both thoroughly miserable. It made me realise what a huge project I'd taken on, with no training, and I was worried that Barney was an unhappy as I was. He's been much better since, but if you feel a bit helpless after a week or so, its not unusual. You just have to remember, it will all be worth it.
Sorry for biting you

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