So you’re getting a new puppy! More exciting than all your birthdays put together; such cuteness that your insides turn to warm caramel; a huggable, kissable, wriggling snuggle-chum! But wait, there are a few other things you need to know about becoming a puppy parent. Here’s what they don’t tell you about your new ‘job’ …
Cash – You blew your credit card at the pet store: a crate for pup to snooze in and be safely contained, complete with soft cosy bedding. Toys – lots of toys – to keep him/her occupied. Special (puppy) food and treats and chews (apparently nothing else will do), food bowl, lead and collar, harnesses, brush, poop bag, vet bills, vaccinations, pet insurance…..
Sleep – or rather a lack of. Welcome to 3 weeks of sleeping on the sofa to ensure you do not incur your neighbours wrath. Puppies can bark, howl, whimper for hours (just you wait) – it tugs at your heart strings and drives you bonkers in equal measure. And the following day – a write off! Your sleep deprived, frustrated and a nervous wreck.
Social Life – what social life? A social life is something you ‘used’ to have! Now you can look forward to weeks, probably months, of boisterous puppy play that compromises your dreams of ‘me- time’ or going out.
Chewing – Every surface that your puppy can put its jaws around with be tested for taste, resistance to needle sharp pressure and nibbled for relief of boredom. Anything not fixed firmly in place will be moved, shredded and indented with teeth marks. Skirting boards and stairs often particular favourites.
Warning! Your cute puppy is becoming your nemesis: Increasing debt, an impaired social life & sleep deprivation make you question why you chose to share your life with this creature.
Illusions – The illusion of pleasant walks become a contest of wills as you wrestle with various pieces of equipment and try not to step on your pup as he or she zigzags around you.
Embarrassment – Your puppy will embarrass you at every opportunity: Muddy paws on white trousered strangers, peeing … everywhere! Tangling you up in other people’s dogs’ leads, gnawing through folks’ shoe laces/cardigans or indeed anything clothing that dangles.
Sniffing – endless sniffing. A beautiful day at the park becomes a view of your puppy’s bottom, tail in air, nose down exploring the local fauna, flora and wildlife and … rubbish. Puppies just love picking up and trying to eat rubbish – paper towels, sweet wrappers, poo bags. You name it.
Reality check! Buying a puppy is not like buying a sofa. It will be more demanding than you ever imagine; more expensive and will change your whole lifestyle.
Think before getting your puppy…
Try before you buy – See if you can puppy sit or dog sit for a friend. Offer to look after their dog for a day or two. Understand what its really like to have a dog. Feel the sharp end and volunteer at the local rescue centre. See the type of ‘toy’ you are gambling with.
Breed? Research what different breeds were bred for.
- How much mental and physical stimulation does the breed typically need?
- How much barking can you expect;
- How much pet hair are you willing to vacuum up?
What are you prepared to give up? Take a long, hard, look at your life style. Be brutal:
- Are you going to give up luxury furnishings, a pretty garden and your social life?
- Will your neighbours tolerate your dog barking all day while you work?
- Are you self disciplined enough get up at 6am on cold dark mornings to walk the dog?
- Can you give up spontaneous weekends away and nights out?
- Will your love and sense of responsibility be enough to parent this young animal?”
And finally …
Being a puppy parent is not an easy job! Rescue shelters are brimming with dogs whose pet-parents found they’d taken on too much. So, think carefully before choosing your pup – make sure its the right decision for you, your family, your lifestyle and of course the puppy. If it is then here’s to you enjoying a loving, fun and long lasting relationship together! This cartoon by Rupert Fawcett depicts some of the ‘jobs’ you can look forward to with your dog!
Written by Joy Matthews – adapted from the excellent article by Kay Laurence
You can download Kay’s original article here.