7 truths I learned when I adopted a puppy
It’s National Puppy Day, in case you didn’t notice. In honor of our beloved shoe-chewers, one of our readers shared some awesome wisdom about her own experience as a new puppy-mommy.
Around last Valentine’s Day, my husband started hinting that he wanted a puppy. I’d never really been the Valentine’s type of girl (he enjoys celebrating little events like that), but with some convincing, we decided to move forward with adopting a rescue furbaby. Luckily, everything went smoothly, and we brought home our new little bundle of joy.
We decided to name our three-month-old puppy Potato. We were told she is an Australian Cattle mix, but because her ears are still floppy, we think she might actually be an Australian Shepherd mix. Either way, she is as adorable as she is a lot of work. We fell in love with her instantly.
Being a military wife means having to say goodbye to my hubby every few weeks for several months, and a few days after adopting Potato, my husband left me to the lovely task of training our little furry girl by myself. Suddenly, there I was: alone with Potato. I was in charge of her health, well-being, house training, mind stimulation, and 24/7 TLC. And in only three weeks, I have learned a lot about caring for a puppy: the good, the bad, and the gross.
1. I should probably just throw my mop away.
Because we have two bedrooms with wall-to-wall carpeting, we have to keep Potato in our living room. Her day crate and toys live there, and that’s where I spend most of my time with her. Living in the Boston area this winter means we are constantly bringing in salt, water, and snow into our home. When we come in from walks, I practice the common courtesy of taking my boots off at the entrance while Potato runs in and leaves her little pitter-patter of paw prints all over our kitchen and living room.
2. There’s no such thing as privacy.
Potato is very clingy and doesn’t approve of being left alone. With that said, sometimes I will let her in our bathroom while I shower. What does she like to do when she’s locked in there with me? Judge me. She pokes her head in the shower and judges me. I answer Mother Nature’s call, Potato judges me. There is no such thing as boundaries with her — everything I do must involve her.
3. My hands no longer belong to me.
Chew toys, tongs, and treats: those are the items Potato thinks are attached to the ends of my arms. She is now four months, so nipping is still an issue I am working on. . . every day. Whenever I put my hands in my pockets, she immediately sits and anxiously waits for a treat that I may or may not magically possess. I also find myself shoving my hands in her mouth to pick out whatever garbage, dirt, or small parts of her toys she managed to chew off. I’m not sure if she enjoys this or not because she just rolls on her back and lets it happen. Is this a cry for attention?
4. Apparently, my toes and ankles resemble cattle.
Potato seems to believe I am some sort of mutated form of a cow. Now, this is not her fault — it is in her nature to herd cattle and this 15-pound meatloaf tries her best. If she is in one of her hyper fits, she enjoys chasing my toes and ankles and herds me to where she feels fit. If I “disobey” her, she thinks playfully barking will help me submit.
5. I constantly have to save her life.
Confidence does not even begin to describe Potato. She is the 15-year-old high school girl of puppies — or, at least, she’s the 15-year-old high school me of puppies. Potato is defiant, brave, has a mind of her own, and everything mom says or does is wrong. I have left her alone about three times, and in those 5-10 minutes, I have caught her chewing through my sound machine charger, chewing through the cable to the living room lamp, and finally, her last proud accomplishment, disconnecting a bedroom lamp and chowing down on the cable.
6. I am, in no way, ready for children.
I am not saying animals are like children (although, I am. I totally am.), but the comparisons are really, really, extremely close. I have a set schedule for her potty time and feeding time. I have to constantly watch her so she doesn’t choke on something. I have to set guidelines for her, and disciplining her is a painful process that makes me feel guilty when she whines. I am completely aware that having children is much, much harder by 100%, but you have to understand this is my first puppy. I do not have my parents to help me raise her to become a proper dog for society. With my husband gone for months, all the responsibilities are on me. Thankfully, a dog cannot throw SCREAMING tantrums, but she can still whine or be silently hurt and need medical assistance. A puppy is enough for me. I can wait for children.
7. A puppy makes great company.
With my husband underway for months, my family states away, and no real friends in a new, unfamiliar home, it can get lonely, fast. Potato keeps me busy by training her, chasing after her, and cleaning up after her — and she gives me love and affection when she sees me down and out. By now, I am used to being alone, but when the loneliness comes crashing down along with the tears, Potato knows exactly how to curl up on my lap and lick the sadness off my face.
Potato and I have been bonding more and more since my husband has been gone. Although there are times I ask, “Why did we adopt her NOW? Why didn’t we wait?”— I take one look at her precious face and I’m reminded she is taking care of me while he’s away. Without her, I wouldn’t have the cuddle comfort she brings, I wouldn’t have random amusement, and I wouldn’t be experiencing a trial run of minimal motherhood. This four-legged, spot-covered burst of energy is my child, my furbaby — and every day I get to spend with her is an amazing experience.
Allison (Ally) Mirenda is a 28-year-old military wife who graduated college and grew up in New Jersey. She recently moved to Massachusetts and runs her own blog where she used to write exclusively about music but has since expanded to topics that tickle the funny bone. She spends her days training her new puppy, Potato, and coming up with funny stories or topics to brighten up someone’s day or make them think.