Owning A Puppy — The Untold Stories
This June will mark one year since Charlie became part of our little fam. Seriously, people, this was one of the happiest days of my life. I literally cried tears of joy on the car ride home.
Fast forward one year and Charlie has made me cry for very different reasons. Charlie is curious and playful and sweet and, obviously, adorable. But he is also anxious and needy and too smart for his own good. Every lovey and fun day is matched with frustration and exhaustion.
As we awaited the day we would bring Charlie home, we were met with friends and family both excited and slightly jealous that this cutie of a tiny goldendoodle would be living with us. Of all the people we spoke with, none, and I mean none, told us of the hardships we would face. And by hardships I don’t mean chewed up shoes or pee stained carpets.
No, what I mean is that everyone failed to mention how our patience and sanity would be tested or that for more than 4 months the boy and I would be arguing nonstop or that doing the smallest thing now required extra thought and consideration.
So, here is what no one told us and what I wish they had.
That a puppy is a baby. I cringe even as I write this, but it’s true. Just as you need to be selfless and nurturing and loving with a baby, so too with a pup. When we brought Charlie home, he was only eight weeks old and all of 7 pounds. He was so tiny and helpless and scared that he depended on us for everything and one year later he still does. He always will.
Your patience and sanity will be tested. Every night, at least 10 times, Charlie will nudge his ball under the couch and then bark until he can (read: we can) retrieve it. And every night, at least 20 times, we say “Charlie. No.” Every night when we sit to eat, Charlie decides it’s time for his walk. And he will bark and whine until we tell him to chill. But you can’t get mad at him. You can’t yell, because he’s still learning and he’s helpless and blah blah blah. Your patience will be tested.
That your love life will nose dive. Charlie’s crate, where he sleeps at night, is right beside our bed. If I so much as kiss the boy, Charlie loses it, so you know, there’s that. With Charlie in the mix, taking up the bulk of our attention, we had less time for one another which eventually took a toll on our relationship. One year later, we’re back to normal but it took a concerted effort to do small things like eating dinner together, going for our weekly coffee dates or even just watching Netflix. At the end of the day, no matter what, our relationship is the most important.
That your family will think you’re crazy. While the boy grew up with dogs, I was never allowed on account of my Greek parents not wanting animals in the house. So imagine how they felt when they saw me inspecting Charlie’s poop to make sure it was healthy, or opening his mouth and prying out the bottle cap he managed to quickly scoop off the floor, or sitting with him in the spare bedroom for 45 minutes during a family function so that he wouldn’t cry while everyone was downstairs. Unless the people you know are also dog/pet owners, they will think your nuts. Most of the time even I think I’m nuts.
That you will fight with your spouse. Unfortunately, this was a big one for us. Three weeks into having Charlie, the boy proposed selling our new pup. Truthfully, he was under more stress than me as he was working from home and taking care of Charlie during the day, so I can understand the he was feeling the bulk of anxiety. I felt guilty and sad every day and was convinced that the boy now hated me. We argued and cried and were frustrated every day. Every. Day. It took a good four months for us to get into the swing of things, and to realize that arguing did nothing but make us feel sad and secluded from one another.
That you will feel guilty. Crate training Charlie and hearing him cry. I felt guilty. Leaving him home alone for the first time and hearing him yelp. I felt guilty. Leaving him for 2 weeks to go to Europe. Mountain of guilt. I feel guilty and sad whenever I leave Charlie and this is a year into having him in our lives. In the end though, I know leaving our anxious little puppy alone is actually helping him, so I suck it up. You’ll have to as well.
That you will feel so much love. I love Charlie so much. SO. MUCH. He is loving and playful, smart and funny. I smile just looking at him. I smile just thinking about him! He has brought so much happiness into our life and I can’t imagine our lives without him.
Of all the hardships we have been through, and will likely continue to go through with Charlie, if someone asked me if they should get a pup I would still say yes. But, I would tell them that they must realize that bringing a doggy into your home means you are promising to take care of another being every day, all day, for 10 to 15 years — that’s a massive commitment! It’s a commitment that takes time and heart and patience. But it’s also a commitment that gives you unconditional love, every day, all day, for 10 to 15 years — and that’s amazing.
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