A few days before Christmas, we added a puppy to our family. After thinking about it and talking about it and looking at adorable picture after adorable picture for better than five years, we thought it was time.
|The photo that made us fall in love.|
Puppies are just like babies/toddlers. Everything you've heard about a puppy being like another baby is true. They whine and cry at night and wake frequently until they get used to the sleeping arrangements. They teethe on everything (and finding puppy teeth in the house is a fun bonus because NO TOOTH FAIRY!). They have energy when you just want to chill. And the potty training- GAH! Very frustrating.
But just like babies and toddlers, they are adorable. They learn quickly if you stick to a routine. They do cute and hilarious things that you will just NEED to post to social media. They will be your little shadow, and the cuddles are the best.
|She just climbed up on my shoulder|
and fell asleep. <3
Puppies will destroy something you like. It's inevitable. Even if you didn't leave your favorite gauzy blouse on the floor of your closet, your puppy will see it hanging there, taste it (because like toddlers they put everything in their mouths), decide it likes the way it tastes, and pretty soon, there is a hole in it that can't be repaired. Your puppy will chew on the leg of your favorite antique chair, eat your kids' Legos, and even chew apart it's own toys. Just be prepared to replace a few things, and you'll be fine. Oh, and learn ways to prevent your puppy from chewing.
Puppies get sick. In your house. On your carpet. You might even step in it (that's what I've heard, ahem). Just when I thought our Hannah-pie was all potty trained, she started pooping everywhere! All over the house and even in her sleeping spot (which dogs don't typically do). Well, it turns out she had a little tummy bug; and when it was over, so was the house pooping. We have overfed her on occasion, or given her something too rich for her tummy, or took her for a vigorous run right after dinner, and she has lost her cookies in the house as well. You just have to expect a few messes in the house. Have the right cleaning supplies handy, like Nature's Miracle No More Marking, 24-Ounce Spray (P-5558).
Puppies get your house dirty. They roll in the dirt and mulch and walk in the gravel and mud. They get twigs and leaves stuck in their fur, and they get dusty, wet, and smelly. Be prepared to keep some wipes like Earthbath All Natural Puppy Grooming Wipes, 100 Wipes or a wet washcloth handy to wipe your puppy down on particularly messy days. And if you're picky about poopy bottoms, be prepared to wipe those, too. I was wiping my dog's bottom every time she pooped at first. After so many times of nothing being on the wipe, I gave that up. I feel like our house is not that much dirtier given that she is a small dog AND we have four boys, so our house is always a little dirty anyway.
Puppies put a dent in your wallet. Owning a dog is not without expense. Besides regular vet visits, there are licensing fees, puppy training, grooming, food, treats, toys, leashes, kennels, and any other cute and ridiculous thing you see that you just HAVE to get for your puppy, like these bunny ears for Easter:
You will have at least one hit and run scare. Dogs love to run and some are really good escape artists. When you least expect it, your puppy will take off, and your down-the-street-neighbor (you know, the one who puts out the "Slow, kids at play" signs) will speed by narrowly avoiding flattening your dog. It makes you realize that at some point, you won't have your dog anymore and you will be very, very sad thinking about that moment. . .
. . . because Puppies steal your heart. No amount of poop, pee, vomit, barking, destroyed furniture, or stress over training will cancel out how much you love the little furball. When you are ready and you have found the one, it will be right. And all of a sudden, you will understand all of the crazy pet parents out there because you will be one. :)
|You won't even mind|
On a side note, if you think that a puppy will be the magic answer for your kid with ADHD or autism, think again. In our case, the puppy only distracts our children more and is a little freaked out by our ASD kid's loud voice and frantic movements.
But, there is something to be said about a puppy increasing responsible behavior in children and helping keep everyone fit. Our boys know they need to take turns taking the dog outside (we are still working on getting them to scoop the poop - maybe it would be easier with this GoGo Stik - The Totally Clean Pooper Scooper); and when someone is restless, we tell them to take the dog for a walk. Personally, I have lost a few pounds because I take the dog for at least one walk a day, sometimes more.
Oh, and the thing about puppies helping with depression? It's true. A few minutes of cuddling with Hannah, playing fetch with her, or watching her go "psycho dog" (tear around the house running as fast as she can for no apparent reason), elevates my mood incredibly and makes me laugh until I get tears in my eyes. She definitely makes me happy more than she makes me mad or frustrates me.
The important thing about getting a dog is to be sure you're ready. Just like having a baby, you never really know when it can happen - maybe the right dog comes along at the wrong time - but odds are you've thought a lot about it, are around dogs frequently, or you are in the right mindset to do the work. And it is work. Many people think it's okay to return a dog once you've adopted one and it's not working out or "the kids lost interest" (this is how we got our dog); but just like children, negative experiences with previous owners can affect dogs' personalities. Be sure you are ready to give your dog a forever home.
Let technology help you with your pooch, too. Check out my latest Cuddly Critters article for Women's Edition. Of course there's an app for everything!
|Photo by Adam G.|
We're never letting this cutie go!!
Dog owners, what tips do you have for making your home puppy ready? Let's hear about it in the comments.