- EXCITEMENT – You’ve met your little bundle of fun. You’ve imagined all the fun you’ll have together playing. You’ve dreamt of long summer walks in the woods and cosy winter nights curled up in front of the fire. You just can’t wait. Your new puppy will be your bestest friend.
- APPREHENSION – You start having concerns and worries about the impending arrival. Will my puppy settle in okay? Will he/she miss her mum, dad and siblings? Will it like me? Will he/she behave? Will it bark a lot? Will he/she be okay left alone while I’m at work?
- SELF DOUBT – Then come the fears of being able to look after an animal and being responsible and committed. Will I be able to train it? Will I feed it enough? Will I feed it too much? Will I make it ill? Will I be able to cope? Will it like me?
- SHOCK – Oh.My.Dog! – One small bundle of joy and one significant lifestyle change. Lie-ins? Nope, temporarily on hold. Popping out whenever you fancy, for as long as you like. Nope, can’t leave puppy home alone for too long. Lounging around on the sofa. Only when puppy is having a sleep which is generally when you need to catch up on all the things you can’t do while you’re keeping pooch entertained. Puppies need attention. They need to be taken outside to go to the toilet regularly. They follow you from room to room lingering around your heels. The moment you take your eyes off pup for too long it’ll be nibbling something it shouldn’t.
- REALITY – It’s quite a lot of hard work and a big responsibility. You need to be patient and tolerant and accept that accidents will happen, your pup is only a baby and it will take time to fall into place. Puppies demand a fair bit of attention and not always at convenient times. But they are a lot of fun, love snuggling up, will always be happy to see you and quickly become your new best friend.
Had you asked me a few months ago my top three fears, they would’ve been something like this:
2. Being buried alive.
3. Going to prison (being behind bars not just visiting).
So when my other half said, ‘let’s get a puppy’, I laughed thinking he was, well, barking mad. He was serious. I whimpered: “But I don’t like dogs.”
I really didn’t. I used to cross the road if I saw one coming towards me. I’d walk in the opposite direction if there was any sniff of a canine off the lead.
But he kept on and on and, like a dog with a bone, he just wouldn’t let it go. I saw pictures and videos of the newborn pups. We discussed all the practicalities. I still wasn’t convinced. In order to get a minute’s peace, I relented and agreed to meet the puppies.
That was the day my lifelong fear of dogs was dispelled. The tiny, cute fluffy bundles won over my feelings, big time. The one that stole my heart was the one that reminded me of me. It was little and shy hiding behind my legs. Smitten.
The weeks passed and the excitement grew. I couldn’t wait for our bundle of joy to arrive. We began to prepare. I read books, Googled and learnt lots of things. We went shopping to buy all the puppy supplies. It’s not just poo bags, a bed and food either.
The list grew quite rapidly. Training pads (to do their business on before they’re allowed out), toys (lots of them so they don’t get bored), bowls, lead, collar, harness, coat (for the cold days), crate, blankets, treats, baby gate (to keep her contained), grooming wipes, ear cleaner, toothbrush and paste, insurance, grooming every two months. . . Hmmmm.
OK so it’s not anywhere near what you need for a newborn but I was alarmed when people kept saying ‘having a puppy is like having a baby’ (a massive exaggeration I’m sure and you don’t get any peternity leave either. Shocking). I haven’t got a baby so I was clueless either way. Now I’ve got a puppy, I don’t ever want a baby.
Pippi* arrived. I’ve never had a pet so was right in at the very deep end. I was overwhelmed. She had to be watched every second. There was a constant fear of wee and poo in places where there shouldn’t be such things (mainly the carpet).
Note: Don’t expect your puppy to arrive at your home and trundle up to the back door, politely scratch it, requesting to be let out to go to the toilet. It won’t. Puppies will go whenever and wherever they fancy and they are fond of warm, soft surfaces. Toilet training = vigilance + effort + patience.
She wouldn’t sleep on her own. She woke a few times each night needing the toilet. She cried when we left her alone. She wanted to play a lot (that’s the fun bit) but not always at convenient times (that was the frustrating bit). She wanted to cuddle even more (that’s the cosy bit).
Then she got sick. Two weeks in, a terrible toileting debacle occurred and we had an emergency trip to the vets. I vote for an NHS for animals. Sixty pounds lighter (my bank balance and my body) and the worry (another reason why I will remain without child) was all consuming. Thankfully she recovered.
We tried things ‘by the book’. The book is now on a shelf somewhere and hasn’t been referred to since BP (before puppy). The books make it sound so easy. It’s not. Do X and Y will happen. Like babies, all puppies are different. Like babies, puppies can’t read books.
It’s about patience, perseverance, and positivity. It will all be OK in the end, it just takes time and a whole lot of faith and trust in an animal who can’t speak but will, eventually, become your best friend.
A dog is for life. You wouldn’t give your baby away because the going gets tough and a puppy should be thought of in the same way.
I love my pooch more than I ever thought I would. If someone had said to me six months ago: “You’re going to have a puppy and you’ll love her so much she’ll be your world,” I would’ve laughed and said: “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!”
But now I can’t imagine life without her. It’s the best feeling in the world to come home and see her happy little face, frantically wagging tail and have lots of cute puppy kisses at the end of a long day at work.
*Pippi is a poochon: a bichon frise and toy poodle cross.