Ahh, Puppies! It’s hard not to get a little puppy fever when you see a cute wriggly ball of fur. No one is immune to those oh so sweet big round puppy eyes and little licky tongues…the little shark teeth? Well, that’s another matter! Spend a few moments with one of those little cuties, and you’re probably in danger of thinking it is time to add a new fur baby to the family, right?
STOP! Take a deep breath and let your head take the lead and your heart take a back seat. Adding a puppy to the family is no small thing and should never be an impulse decision. Puppies turn into dogs and dogs are a long-term commitment that goes far beyond that initial excitement you feel when a puppy first comes home.
Talking from personal experience, I can vouch for the fact that no matter how long or thoroughly you think you have researched, you are never quite prepared. My daughter and I started our research two years prior to bringing our puppy home. We looked at all the breeds, read up on the characteristics of each, tried to make educated decisions based on our lifestyle and environment and the qualities each breed exemplified. We considered important things like the option to adopt vs. getting a puppy from a breeder and considered the idea of getting either an older dog or getting a puppy. In the end, we decided that getting a puppy from a reputable CKC registered breeder worked best for us. We felt it gave us the best guarantee of having the puppy we selected having the traits we wanted in a specific dog breed.
Once we decided on going the breeder route, we then began our quest to find the right breeder. We wanted a local breeder and wanted someone who cared and had a passion for the breed they represented. We also wanted someone who bred responsibly and invested in the genetic testing to make sure the puppies had a healthy lineage. We followed their Facebook page to get a better sense of who they were and read all the reviews. When we were fully satisfied that they were our perfect match, that was when we knew it was the right time.
The day we brought Kody home was a very exciting day. We had prepared the whole month prior to his arrival and had his crate set up weeks in advance. Toys, bowls, collars, harness and leashes all were at the ready. We researched and selected the perfect puppy food, as nothing was too good for our little prince. We had a special soft blankie selected and little duck toy ready to go with us so we could get mums scent all over it. That way he could bring a piece of his first home back with him when he came to his new home with us. It was a 7 hour round trip drive to get our little bundle of fur, and we were up at the crack of dawn to get an early start that day. We had even watched every puppy video we could on YouTube so we would make sure his transition to our home would be a smooth one (for him and for us). However, fantasy and reality collided that first night at bedtime. Nothing prepares you for the all-night cries of a puppy who is missing mum and siblings. Our puppy was overwhelmed by all the new sights and smells, and who wants to be out of his crate.
Those first two weeks were a serious experience in sleep deprivation for us. Consistency and time were our best allies. Eventually, Kody became more secure in his environment and realized his crate was his safe spot. I am happy to say he now looks forward to bedtime and will let us know when it’s time for bed and even put himself to bed in his crate if we stay up too late.
Once we conquered that first milestone, we soon learned there was lots more to come down the chute. The puppy “land shark” stage was a particularly fun one. Everyone knows puppies bite, but nothing prepares you for living with an adorable furry bundle that could also eat you alive at any moment. We all bore the battle scars for months from those little razors. After that came the chewing on furniture and anything not nailed (and sometimes even nailed down). This one is a work in progress and seems to be the hardest to break as he is a power chewer. Kong chew toys have met their match. Next came the barking and the hate of anything housework related – the vacuum and the mop are his sworn enemy – I highly doubt I can ever convince him otherwise. The furballs… oh yes, those furballs that roll like tumbleweeds over my beautiful hardwood floors. Always there, no matter if I have vacuumed the day before or even hours before. That battle of staying ahead of the shedding fur has become the bane of my life these days. I now dread sunny days at noon when the light shines in to illuminate the millions of dog hairs scattered over my floors, so I have taken to keeping the curtains closed during those hours to keep hold of sanity these days.
Kody has a love/hate relationship with his stepbrother Kenma, our cat – as in he loves to chase him and hates when we give our attention to Kenma. You see Kody feels positive human attention is only meant for him (sigh). This one will also continue to be a work in progress. He is a loving and very needy boy, and his happiest desire is to be with his humans at every moment. I had always thought dogs were more dependent and needier than cats but knowing and living with it has been a big learning curve. Feeling guilty about leaving him behind to go to work or to do human only socialization activities has been the hardest to adapt to. Keeping him mentally stimulated and physically fulfilled is a balance I am always striving for. I feel it is a responsibility I must fulfill as he deserves to live his best doggy life without regrets.
I do feel I have grown a lot over the last eight months since we brought Kody home… I look back and realize how naive I was that first day I brought him home. This little fantasy of how I thought life would be like adding a dog to our family, and how it has actually turned out to be. There have been tears (and lots and lots of shedding fur) along the way but also love, joy and even feelings of pride in this journey with him so far. He has added a depth to our lives, but he has also been a lot more work and much larger responsibility than I ever realized.
A warning to the wise, before you fall head over heels in love with that little fluffy bundle of love and decide to bring home a new family member – make sure you are 110% ready to have the world as you know it turned on its head. There is only one thing you can be sure of once you bring that puppy home; life will never be the same again!
Written by: Barbara Duggan-Smith, Veterinary Assistant